Texas company acquires Canadian MSP pioneer

Ottawa-based N-Able Technologies was acquired today by Texas-based IT management and monitoring software vendor SolarWinds of Austin, Tex., for a reported $120 million.

This deal is expected to close shortly according to N-Able CEO Gavin Garbutt and it looks from the outset that N-Able will be able to get all the benefits of the acquisition without losing its brand name or be forced to make any changes to its channel direction.

In fact, Garbutt told CDN that SolarWinds plans to make Ottawa one of its technology hubs.

Garbutt added that he was humbled by SolarWinds. “I have to admit these guys are smart. I would say that SolarWinds is the best run software company in the world. SolarWinds has developed processes and methodologies that I drool over and can only dream about and it’s a big reason to what attracted me to them,” Garbutt said.

He was also amazed at SolarWinds 56 per cent profitability and called it rare for the software industry. In comparison to N-Able, Garbutt said: “We have a nice profit rate but we are not even close to SolarWinds.” N-Able’s company growth rate was 47 per cent and in the last two quarters it reached 50 per cent.

N-Able has been tinkering with the idea of an IPO and has been approached by a number of parties, but in the end the chemistry between the two firms could not be overlooked.

According to Garbutt, N-Able plans to take SolarWinds sales and marketing engine, its best practices and its customer acquisition model and template it for channel partners in their network.

Also some of the new product additions N-Able was in the process of developing are already in place with SolarWinds and that means N-Able will be reducing its time to market especially with its flagship product InCentral.

Garbutt also was impressed with SolarWinds go to market strategy. SolarWinds employs a learn, try and buy go-to-market model. They support that model by constantly communicating with customers and the rest of the market during the sales lifecycle. Garbutt said that this model means there are constant sales in the pipeline. This model will also be packaged by N-Able to be offering to channel partners for them to leverage.

It wasn’t that long ago when Ottawa was the centre of the managed services universe with not one but two leading managed services providers in N-Able Technologies and Level Platforms Inc.

Since the turn of the century, however, N-Able has practically stood alone further distancing itself from the competition. Another MSP pioneer Silverback was acquired by Dell Computer and Level Platforms fell into a partnership with distributor Ingram Micro to create the Seismic offering.

But Garbutt did not view this deal as another American company gobbling up a treasured Canadian technology jewel. He said there will always be that side of the conversation, but SolarWinds is committed to expanding its offering with N-Able and that might mean beyond the North American region and into more international markets.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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