ConnectWise CEO: New Cloud, Remote Management Services Aim To Make ConnectWise The Center Of The MSP's Ecosystem

ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini on Thursday told an audience of over 3,000 MSPs and technology partners that despite how much he hates the word "ecosystem," his company is doing all it can to be at the center of partners' ecosystems. 

Bellini, speaking at the IT Nation conference in Orlando, Fla., said an ecosystem must have a focus on customers and offer a wide choice of solutions and customer-focused services.

"It's about your services set, how you drive your services set, that is the whole glue that brings this together," he said. "We've put ourselves at the center of the ecosystem."

[Related: Cisco Teams With ConnectWise To Create A 'Managed Service In A Box' Solution For MSPs]

Bellini identified 14 different technologies that make up what he called the "technology canvas" that encompasses the areas where partners can invest in services opportunities. These include copy and print; digital security; physical security; IoT; audio and visual; collaboration; line of business applications; office applications; network infrastructure; on-site computing; cloud computing; application development; and business intelligence.

ConnectWise brings together the kinds of solutions that tie channel partners to those technologies, Bellini said. "It's our job to connect to as many of these as we can to meet your needs," he said.

In doing its job, ConnectWise unveiled a number of new managed services, including a new unified console that will bring management of Cisco, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud environments into a unified console.

The company also showed off Perspective, a new service that connects a field technician's smartphone camera to the ConnectWise Control console so that a solution provider's in-house support person can see exactly what the technician sees.

Craig Fulton, ConnectWise chief product officer, demonstrated Perspective by showing how the remote smartphone image in integrated into the service ticket without changing screens. 

As part of the demonstration, Fulton showed that the remote smartphone could actually read the barcode of a remote device to automatically bring up information about that device into the service ticket.

In addition to incorporating remote video into the service ticket, Perspective can also be used to send junior technicians before being fully trained to remote sites to work closely with senior technicians at the central office, Fulton said.

"His vision fits with my vision of my own company," said David Stamm, CEO of Stamm Technologies, a Milwaukee-based MSP. "Clients do want more help with a wide range of services."

Stamm added: "You could do Facetime to remotely see what is happening in the field, but with Perspective, you see it in the ConnectWise screen. And that barcode reading is very important."

One of ConnectWise's core services, ConnectWise Automate, is being enhanced to allow support people to handle remote monitoring and management via the web, with all necessary information related to the support able to be managed in a single screen. The transition is scheduled to happen in 2018.

Fulton also demonstrated dynamic networking mapping as part of ConnectWise Automate. With dynamic network mapping, a map of a customer's network and devices can be generated at will so, replacing older mapping tools which produce network maps which could be obsolete in only five minutes as devices move, he said.

"We do network mapping manually now," Stamm said. "Yes, there are other tools. But since we've already moved to ConnectWise Automate, this new network mapping tool gives us a quick view from inside our service console."

"Having all the endpoint information in a single pane of glass will make it easier to see if there are other unknown issues when taking care of customer support issues," said Greg Zimmerle, owner and president of myIT.com, a Bedford, Texas-based MSP.

Bellini and Fulton also showed ConnectWise Unite, a new managed service offering that brings Cisco Spark, Meraki, Cisco Umbrella, and Stealthwatch Cloud offerings into a new console. This was first introduced earlier this month at the Cisco Partner Summit 2017.

Nirav Sheth, vice president of sales and systems engineering in Cisco's Global Partner Organization, took the stage to tell partners that his company was dedicated to bringing Cisco's enterprise-grade networking, security and other technologies to managed service providers of any size, and that ConnectWise Unite was a good place to start.

"We are unequivocally committed to this space," Sheth said. "We want to bring enterprise capabilities, marry it to consumer ease-of-use, and marry it to your capabilities."

Bellini and Fulton took the news one step further with the news that Amazon Web Services has also been added to ConnectWise Unite, and that Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure will also be added.

AWS integration into ConnectWise Unite has already started, and Google Cloud integration will happen next year, Bellini said. Microsoft Azure is currently integrated into the ConnectWise Cloud Console, but Cloud Console and ConnectWise Unite will be merged, bringing Cisco and the industry's three biggest cloud technologies into a single management console.

"We now use a glorified ticking system and portals," said Jim Brice, director of infrastructure services at MNJ Technologies, a Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based MSP. "But it's not a day-to-day part of our business because we lack what Unite brings. There's no way to use Cisco Umbrella or Meraki with ConnectWise currently. We need to go the Umbrella portal to get the information we need. So this looks cool."

"It's interesting to see the visualization of the entire ecosystem, and how it ties to CRM and billing," said Tim Barto, vice president of business development at IronEdge Group, a Houston-based MSP. "We want to see it all. And ConnectWise Unite is heading in the right direction."

Also new is the ConnectWise Developer Kit, a new set of tools that can automatically generate code to add other offerings to ConnectWise Unite. Bellini said the ConnectWise Developer Kit was used to bring Cisco into Unite and can be used by any of ConnectWise's vendor partners to make their offerings a part of Unite.

Channel partners can also use the ConnectWise Developer Kit to customize their offerings to work in the Unite console, Bellini said.

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