SolarWinds Boosts Security with Passportal Buy

Leaders in both companies vow the product’s integrations with other MSP platforms will not change as a result of the acquisition.


SolarWinds has acquired Canadian password and documentation management firm Passportal in a bid to offer increased security to its MSP customers around the world, which has become increasingly important as cyber criminals target MSPs, said SolarWinds general manager John Pagliuca.

“If you can infiltrate and hack into an MSP, you now have access to the crown jewels of all those companies of all those people,” he told CRN. “All the bad guys have woken up to the idea, you can see it in the press, you can see it in the attacks that are going on, they’re targeting the MSP… We need to make sure we arm the MSPs with the technology to protect them from those bad guys.”

The deal took about two months to put together and was finalized earlier this month, Pagliuca said. The terms were not disclosed.

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Austin, Texas-based IT service management company SolarWinds has 22,000 MSP clients, who employ roughly 200,000 technicians, he said. Those technicians have access to more than 600,000 small to medium businesses all over the world with a total of 6 million end users, so security, Pagliuca said is paramount. The IT documentation product created by Passportal CEO Colin Knox is an excellent complement to SolarWinds’ platform, he said.

“We see security as a huge opportunity,” Pagliuca said. “Of course Colin did as well. That’s why he built his company. That’s why he built the product … He built a product that scratched an itch that he saw from his own experience as an MSP and that’s how Passportal was born. We love the fact that its purpose built that its built with the user in mind. “

Knox – who will remain with the company “for a long period of time” helping with strategy and growth of his product -- told CRN that he had known Pagliuca and SolarWinds, for years. He said last year when he was considering how to grow Passportal, and looking for a security-first platform, SolarWinds seemed a “natural fit.”

“Organizationally, there’s a lot of cultural synergies with how the businesses aligned,” Knox said. “SolarWinds is security first focused. They’re simplicity and the right tools for the IT task type focus was great. Just being able to leverage what they have in their portfolio, the resources they have available, and the 22,000 MSPs in their community … We were already on a really great growth path and trend, but we wanted to further accelerate that and get our technology in the hands of as many MSPs around the world as possible.”

Knox said the other reason he chose to sell his Calgary-based company to SolarWinds is their shared belief in an open ecosystem when it came to integrations with other MSP management tools.

“MSPs shouldn’t be restricted to only having it available from one RMM company or one PSA company,” Knox said. “So that also aligned from an open stance and an open ecosystem with SolarWinds. I wanted to make sure that whatever direction we were headed, that Passportal had the opportunity to remain open and to be able to integrate with any solution on the market, that the MSPs are leveraging to deliver IT services today.”

Pagliuca said that “open ecosystem” was one of the first items that Knox mentioned when they started negotiations, and he said it “completely aligns” with how SolarWinds does business.

“I agree 100 percent with what Colin said,” Pagliuca said. “You’re either in or you’re out when it comes to this ecosystem. You’re either going to be transparent and in it for the good of the MSP or you’re not going to be. Both SolarWinds and Passportal felt the same way and our goal is to put Passportal’s tools and solutions and the protections they give, into the hands of every MSP. It doesn’t matter whether or not their leveraging someone elses solutions in other parts of the equation. For us it is irrelevant. We very much saw the world in the same way.”