SolarWinds lays out both short and longer-term goals of Passportal acquisition

SolarWinds immediately brings a suite to market incorporating Passportal’s password management and IT documentation technology, but has more ambitious plans as well.

On Friday, SolarWinds announced that it has acquired Calgary-based Passportal, as well as the immediate launch of the SolarWinds Passportal suite, which incudes both Passportal’s original password management solution, as well as what they term the privileged client knowledge management tools they have been selling for the last two years.

SolarWinds has been beefing up their presence in security over the last year through both security and strategic partnerships, and Passportal brings strength here in multiple areas.

Passportal’s original password management solution was originally created by Colin Knox as a house solution at an MSP he owned. He then formed Passportal to productize the solution. It provided companies with online password management services that are designed and priced for MSPs rather than enterprises. In 2017, they added new capabilities to their platform, notably Docs, a documentation management product. This part of the portfolio is what Passportal describes as privileged client knowledge management tools.

“This is a way of framing the IT documentation but more closely aligning with what the documentation is,” Knox said. “MSPS have asked what a  ocumentation solution. Documentation is all the client knowledge an MSP needs to deliver services. It’s very privileged knowledge, and in the wrong hands it’s a vulnerability, so access to the privileged credentials is important.”

The original password management capability is a net-new one for SolarWinds MSP. The companies had been communicating for some time, and had been discussing partnering early on.

John Pagliuca, Executive Vice President, General Manager, MSP, SolarWinds

“Colin and I had been talking three to four years, and we have been watching how Passportal has evolved their story,” said John Pagliuca, Executive Vice President, General Manager, MSP, SolarWinds. “The further we went along, the more we realized that we were aligned. It really came down to three things.

“The first is market focus,” Pagliuca said. “Solarwinds likes to say we are built for IT geeks by an IT geek. Passportal is similar. They were built for MSPs by MSPs.”

The second is a strong culture fit.

“A SolarWinds core competency is mergers and acquisitions, and we have a disciplined framework there which has been pretty successful,” Pagliuca said. “I came from one myself, with LogicNow. We like to make sure that there is a fit, not just in the business model, but the culture, so that we can best leverage existing teams that we acquire. Everyone at Passportal from Colin down has a passion for customer success, which manifests itself in the way that way they onboard and support their customers. That aligns with our empowering MSPs to fuel their growth.”

The third thing is a focus around security.

“We looked at a bunch of different offerings in the space, and they had a very secure one,” Pagliuca said.

Discussions turned to the possibility of acquisition about a year ago.

“We have been in conversations for months teetering on years,” Pagliuca added.

Integration of the products proceeded while the deal was being concluded, which is how the new product suite is able to be announced with the acquisition. Pagliuca noted though that unlike Kaseya’s acquisition of Passportal competitor IT Glue, which took place two years before it was publicly announced in late 2018, this deal is just taking place now.

“We were completely transparent to our MSPs and the channel,” he said.

The plan for now is to keep the technology on the MSP side of the SolarWinds house, and to broaden it out eventually.

“In our M&A framework, we leverage the technology solutions and teams broadly, but the focus for Colin and myself in the short and mid-term is to deliver the technology to as many MSPs as possible – whether they are SolarWinds customers or not,” Pagliuca said. Longer term, the technology will be offered to any IT pro – not just service providers.”

Pagliuca explained that while Passportal will not be a separate operating unit, it will operate as if it were, to be able to continue to sell to the non-SolarWinds part of the market

“They will not be a separate legal entity, but they will have a separate, standalone focus and will continue to invest and support a sales, support and R&D team,” he said. Colin will continue to lead Passportal and will continue to drive the strategy. They will also continue to sell to non-SolarWinds customers.”

While IT Glue Chris Day immediately parted ways with IT Glue and Kaseya once the deal became official, and his two-year commitment immediately lapsed, Knox says that his plan is to stay with SolarWinds long-term.

Colin Knox, Passportal CEO

“Our intention all along when we were considering this as an option was to find a way to accelerate our growth projections,” he said. “The plan will be to stay with SolarWinds for a considerable period of time.”

Both Knox and Pagliuca indicated that the Passportal team was likely to be involved in broadening out SolarWinds’ technological capability in additional directions.

“There is an awful lot of options and opportunity,” Knox said. “I’d be lying if as a geek at heart I said I wasn’t excited by what we have at our disposal. Kevin Thompson [Solarwinds CEO] has been looking for a next generation PSA 2.0. With some of the things they have now, with what we can bring to the table we can come up with an answer to that search.”

“We are excited to have Colin on board to help chart out the greater SolarWinds portfolio, not just the Passportal stuff,” Pagliuca added.

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