Calgary-based Passportal, which provides password protection services to MSPs and VARs, has launched the first of what it intends to be a series of strategic innovations, with service management software provider ConnectWise.
Passportal’s story is a not-unfamiliar one in the IT industry, as it evolved out of an in-house solution a parent company designed to solve a specific problem. Colin Knox, Passportal’s founder and CEO, had been an IT consultant who worked in a variety of roles at MSPs until he started his own MSP in 2009.
“Things were going great, and then in late 2010, a tech left, and we needed to protect the company and customers from him, so we had to manually change hundreds of passwords – over 30 hours in man hours,” Knox said. “We can’t do things that way, but that is how the bulk of MSPs are operating around passwords.”
Knox said they went on a vendor search and found enterprise solutions, but they were designed for a single company, not an MSP, and were too expensive in any event.
“In trialing the products, they didn’t work right for an MSP, although some came close, and the closest was $5000 to buy it and $1000 a year for maintenance,” he said.” That wasn’t in the budget for a 5-10 person MSP. You can’t justify that kind of capital outlay.”
“We wound up building a product in our MSP to solve the problem for us, and then we found that a bunch of companies asked if they could get their hands on it, so we decided to create a company around it,” Knox said. “With a cloud-based service, we can come in at a palatable monthly cost for the MSP market.”
Knox said few MSPs – and few platform vendors – have this kind of password protection, not because it’s difficult to do technically, but because it hadn’t been a priority.
“It’s so simple and it’s right in front of them, but nobody else acted on it,” he said. “It’s one of those things which may be too simple to notice. Most companies either use Excel spreadsheets, which is good for control but not security, or store passwords with their client files in their PSA systems.”
Most MSPs and VARs quickly see the value in online password management.
“When we speak to people, we find they come from the same position as us,” Knox said. “They had techs leave their business and lost sleep about whether they changed passwords when someone left, especially if they were mad they had been let go. Even when a tech goes away on vacation and is completely out of contact, they find they can’t even get into the system. This is something they shrugged off and ignored because there wasn’t an affordable and suitable solution for them.”
The core value proposition is clear, he said.
“MSPS have a multitude of clients who all have many passwords, and this gives them control over that,” Knox said. “They lose efficiency because they don’t know passwords to revoke access. All passwords are controlled in our system but are encrypted on several levels. Our people can’t read or see them, and the same protection works against external compromise as well.”
Knox said Passportal’s strategy this year is to massively extend their breadth by partnering up with multiple platform vendors. Previous to the ConnectWise integration, they only had one in place, a 2013 integration with Autotask which is still in effect. The ConnectWise deal is just the first for this year, Knox said.
“It’s a key strategy of our plan for growth,” he said. “You will see integrations and partnerships with major players in the RMM industry and the document management industry. We are working on those right now.”
Passportal presently has about 500 MSP partners, in 19 countries.
“They range in size from one and two man shops to ones with over 100 people in the MSP practice servicing 5000 plus clients,” Knox said. “Those large ones are seeing huge efficiencies at that scale by using our service.”
Passportal will also soon be announcing a next generation build, as well as a new resale model.
“The resale model will allow VARs to resell corporate password management out to their clients,” Knox said. “It will be fully white labelled, and they will be able to manage all client databases from the single console, and it will handle automated web log-in as well as manage passwords.
“60 per cent of all calls on MSP help desks are password related,” Knox added. This will allow businesses to reset their own password rather than burden the MSP with calls, and get a faster resolution than submitting a ticket.”