SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Thoma Bravo Acquires Continuum, A Leading Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) Company

Firm’s Mid-Market Discover Fund Wraps Up Active Week of Deal Making  


BOSTON, MA and SAN FRANCISCO, CA – June 14, 2017 – Thoma Bravo LLC, a leading private equity investment firm, today announced that it has acquired Continuum, a premier global IT management platform for Managed IT Service thoma bravoProviders (MSPs), from Summit Partners. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.  

Continuum, headquartered in Boston, is an international firm that provides MSPs with the platform, services and processes needed to simplify IT management and deliver high quality Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM), backup and disaster recovery and security offerings to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Its vertically integrated service delivery model combines a SaaS-based technology suite with a best-in-class Network Operations Center (NOC) and Help Desk, and allows MSPs to remotely administer, backup and secure their clients’ IT environments from a single screen and to scale quickly and cost-effectively. Continuum employs more than 1,400 professionals worldwide and monitors more than 1 million endpoints for its 5,800 partners, including MSPs servicing more than 60,000 SMB customers.

“Continuum sets the industry standard with its turn-key approach in the Remote Monitoring and Management market for MSPs,” said A.J. Rohde, a Partner at Thoma Bravo. “We know this market well, and have followed the company for a long time.  What Michael George and his team have delivered on in terms of an innovative product suite and full software and services model has been very impressive, and we can’t wait to work with them to accelerate the world-class offering they deliver to MSPs, both organically and through add-on acquisitions.”

“The company has a smart and proven business model which solves a well-understood skills gap in the MSP market,” added AJ Jangalapalli, a Vice President at Thoma Bravo.  “With its strong growth and high customer retention, Continuum is a great fit with the Thoma Bravo portfolio.”

“Thoma Bravo is the perfect financial and strategic partner for us at this important stage of our company’s growth,” said Michael George, CEO at Continuum. “This investment will enable us to continue to capitalize on our core value propositions and increase critical investments in product development as well as sales and marketing tools for our MSP partners to help accelerate their growth. We are incredibly grateful for the partnership and support we have received from Summit Partners, and are confident that Thoma Bravo’s operational expertise, knowledge of the space and strategic support will be invaluable to us as we focus ambitiously on our company’s future.”

The acquisition of Continuum was made through Thoma Bravo’s Discover Fund, which debuted in early 2016, and comes on the heels of its acquisition of Riskonnect, an integrated risk management provider, announced last week. The Discover Fund enables Thoma Bravo to expand its investment reach by focusing on growth-oriented technology companies in the lower middle market. Previous Discover Fund investments include Bomgar, a cybersecurity provider; Elemica, a supply chain operating network; Infogix, an analytics company; and T2 Systems, a parking management software firm.

Kirkland & Ellis is serving as counsel for Thoma Bravo. Goldman Sachs and the Carlyle Group provided the debt financing for this transaction. Lazard acted as financial advisor and Goodwin as legal counsel to Continuum.

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4 ESSENTIALS MSPS FORGET WHEN DISASTER RECOVERY TESTING

Mary McCoy

 

By Mary McCoy, Content Marketing Manager of Continuum Managed Services

 

 

By now, most MSPs recognize that offering backup is table stakes. Your clients can receive this service from any number of your competitors. In order to stand out and increase monthly recurring revenue (MRR), focus on the disaster recovery (DR) aspect of backup and disaster recovery (BDR). Offer your clients DR testing!
To fully capitalize on the advantages of DR testing, keep the following four best practices in mind when adding this service to your IT portfolio. 


1. Test Everything
Technology alone won't save businesses paralyzed by an IT emergency. DR testing should also engage on the business level, considering continuity of operations and processes along with the validation of actual data availability. How robust is your client's DR plan? Being properly prepared can be as simple as knowing who to call and having an up-to-date contact list. Your DR plan should also avoid ambiguity and set expectations when it comes to designating team and individual roles and responsibilities. Do both you and your clients know what to hold each other accountable for or who to reach out to when something goes wrong?
Pro tip: Your DR plans are not one-size-fits-all, which means your testing should vary across your client base. Each business you serve has different needs. Many organizations have specific compliance and regulatory statutes that they're required to adhere to. You may back up and store some clients' data at a physical location offsite and others' in the cloud. No two clients are alike. When DR testing, processes and procedures should be optimized for each individual client.

2. Test Regularly
How often should you be conducting disaster recovery tests? There is no hard and fast rule, and it really depends on the client in question. That being said, you should run annual DR tests, at the very least. Your clients' disaster readiness depends on every employee's understanding of the current DR plan, which they can ultimately only achieve after familiarization with the DR testing process. And when factoring in employee turnover, testing every year helps acclimate any new hires to the proper procedures and protocol, thereby helping you fine-tune your clients' disaster response. Considering that a company's DR strategy is only as strong as its least prepared employee, you'd think more would advocate frequent DR testing to mitigate risk. According to the 2016 Disaster Recovery as a Service Attitude and Adoption Report, however, 22 percent of respondents test their DR plans less than once a year or in many cases, never test at all. Help them avoid this liability and package regular DR tests into your overall BDR offering.
Sure, testing backups every year should be the standard, but even this may be too conservative in certain circumstances. Let's examine a scenario in which you may want to test more frequently. Perhaps you serve a bank or any other financial services business bound by PCI DSS compliance. To comply with regulatory standards, you may need to test this client's DR plan every three months to ensure your BDR solution meets the necessary requirements. In contrast, a barber shop's DR plan may only need to be tested two to three times per year. Again, when formulating DR plans, always make sure you optimize procedures and processes at the client level.


3. Document Outcomes
Strong DR documentation starts with a client's disaster recovery plan, which should outline everything anyone would need to know in the event of an emergency. This includes contact information, a detailed outline of the steps and procedures that individuals need to follow in order to activate a disaster recovery, expected time frames for recovering data and more.
Only when your response policy is put to the test, can you adequately assess the effectiveness of a DR plan. Maybe certain directions are unclear and create friction across teams. Document any and all outcomes during and after testing. What worked? What didn’t? Where were the failure points? Why did those failures occur? How do you address these in your client's plan? Were any employees or team leads unavailable? In the event that you can't reach these people in the future, who are their backups? Little details like this can mean everything when the clock is ticking and your clients' business continuity is at stake. To help ensure a more seamless DR response, record all results that may be used to improve your clients’ disaster readiness. Then, conduct a post-mortem with all involved, to review lessons learned and areas for improvement.

4. Update DR Plans
Finally, update your clients' DR plans as necessary. This testing is all for naught if you don't do anything with the data you record. It's not enough to simply remember what to do next time around. Recall the conversation around client employee churn. If your client onboards a new hire after your DR test, this employee will only have the existing DR documentation to follow. Rather than repeat the same mistakes in your next round of DR testing, correct now to save your clients later. And remember, disaster readiness is ongoing. Continue to frequently revisit and strengthen your DR plans so that testing runs smoother going forward.

Deliver robust backup data protection services to your clients. Learn how to provide effective business continuity as a service. Download our BDR eBook here!

Meet Mary! Mary McCoy is a Content Marketing Manager at Continuum, where she's worked for over two years. Mary primarily manages the MSP Blog and has consulted with hundreds of partners, lending website, blog and social media support. Before that, she graduated from the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) with a BA in Economics and served as digital marketing intern for Citi Performing Arts Center (Citi Center), spearheading the nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday social media campaign. Like her school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, Mary believes learning never ends. She considers herself a passionate, lifelong student of content creation and inbound marketing.

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MSPradio Segment Features Harrybbb to Discuss O365 and Microsoft Growth Opportunities

Harry Brelsford is more than just our founder and CEO—he’s also a radio star, speaking as the featured guest for Continuum’s MSPradio.

HarryB Headshot

The segment, “Growth Opportunities with Microsoft & Office365: MSPradio 53,” shares with MSPs how small businesses are using Microsoft and the current opportunities and threats available by using Microsoft.

The industry continues to change, and Brelsford discusses everything from Windows 10 to reselling Office 365 and why we can’t count out Microsoft as a key player.

Brelsford noted soon-to-be-released Windows 10 is an exciting development for MSPs and SMBs alike, as it offers increased technology and functionality.

“If you’re a (Windows) 8 hater, Windows 10 is for you,” Brelsford said. “It’s got the button back, it’s got the functionality back, and I think it’s going to be a legitimate business opportunity along the lines of XP, when it launched in 1995.”

Brelsford also discusses the history of SMB Nation and O365 Nation, as well as current and upcoming events.

Listen to the full podcast here, or subscribe to MSPradio podcasts on ITunes or Stitcher.

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Continuum makes play to simplify the public cloud for MSPs

According to research completed last summer by Wakefield Research and Citrix as little as 16 percent of your SMB customers might actually understand what the cloud is. Twenty-eight percent of survey respondents said that it was weather-related (literally a cloud in the sky) while another 17 percent...well, the less said about their responses the better. Suffice it to say they were wrong.

The numbers are probably better now, almost a year later but the cloud has gotten more complex too. The big public cloud providers – which are gearing their services to large enterprises which have proportionally large IT staffs – have stuffed their offerings with hundreds of solutions and it’s your job as their IT guru to help them navigate that morass.

That’s why Continuum launched the Continuum Cloud Console – C3 for short – this week. C3 is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) management platform that helps MSPs unlock the value of the public cloud for SMBs by streamlining the congested world of the public cloud.

dee-zepf“We’ve simplified the complexity of the choices out there,” said Dee Zepf, Continuum’s Vice President of Product Management and Technical Services at Continuum. Essentially, C3 preselects the solutions that are going to make the most difference for SMBs and excises the rest, decluttering the process for MSPs.

C3 – which provides cloud service management through the same pane of glass used by the company’s existing RMM solution, thus putting everything on one screen for techs – is initially limited to Amazon Web Services (AWS), but Zepf says that she expects to roll out enhancements every quarter going forward, including Google, Azure and other large public cloud offerings.

Tim Lasonde, president of Boston-based NSK Inc., which is focused on providing IT services to SMBs, says the conversation about the public cloud comes up with customers all the time, especially when a client is due for a technology refresh.

As a member of Continuum’s Partner Advisory Council, one of the partners who beta tested the C3 offering and an existing Amazon Web Services partner, Lasonde has some keen insights on the value of a service like C3.

“Working with Amazon can be a bit of a daunting process. They are big player and have a lot of offerings. It’s such a disruptive technology. There are a lot of different ways to implement it,” he says. “I think one of the reasons C3 is a good product is because it helps smaller MSPs that don’t really have the time to invest in figuring out all the options.”

Tim LasondeLasonde adds that considering the rapidity with which customers are moving towards buying services through the cloud, getting up to speed on these services is critical for MSPs in the evolving IT landscape. The very public price war driving costs down across the board is certainly a factor driving interest.

On the one hand, this is helping us get new clients over and above existing customers, he says, but MSPs really do need to look at this for their customers because if they don’t then someone else will or the customers will do it for themselves.

Right now anyone can go online and order Office 365, but someone still needs to manage that and controlling how the SMB is exposed to the value these services deliver allows the MSP make sure it’s own value proposition is included in the message.

“Sure customers can go online and purchase O365 and stuff like that,” says Lasonde. “But when it comes to managing it, like migrations, that requires some skill and some training. There are a lot of pain points. It’s not the kind of thing that the average SMB wants to do. That’s where we can add a lot of value.”

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Continuum Launches MSP Radio Podcast

continuum logoEarlier this month, Boston, MA-based Managed Services company, Continuum, launched a new podcast series called “MSP Radio.” Podcasts will be broadcast weekly, and community members are encouraged to subscribe for instant streaming to their iTunes lineup.

The first session, titled “The Future of Managed IT Services,” presented by the company’s VP Sales, Mark Connolly and VP Channel Sales, Mark Zahar, aired on April 10, and was a 35 minute cast focusing on industry expectations for 2014 and beyond. You can listen to a recording of this cast on the blog here. Listeners of MSP Radio are encouraged to ask live questions by using Continuum’s twitter handle: @FollowContinuum and the tag #MSPRadio.

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Continuum Strengthens Leadership Team with Additions on Technology, Marketing Fronts

continuum logoContinuum said today that it has hired two new industry experts to its executive management team: Paiman Nodoushani, vice president, engineering and chief technology officer; and Jeanne Hopkins, senior vice president and chief marketing officer. The moves deepen Continuum’s strengths in product engineering and development, as well as all aspects of partner and acquisition marketing programs.

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Oops…My Bad! 5 Blogs We Missed Last Week

Oops ladyHere we go again! As I do each week, I am really enjoying bringing our readers a quick round-up of the blog coverage I didn’t manage to get to during the week prior.
 
Here at SMB Nation, we are still in regroup mode having just wrapped up our annual fall conference this past weekend. In case you couldn’t make it to Las Vegas for the event, make sure you go to our main home page where you can find several blogs and photos discussing some of the session highlights, as well as what went on during the exhibit hall and who were the male and female winners of the annual Jim Locke Award!

Please take some time to peruse a few snippets of information that we didn’t get a chance to bring you last week….let us also know if there was something we might have missed, which is not mentioned in this entry…because as you know…we love news!

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Oops…My Bad! 5 Blogs We Missed Last Week

Oops ladyHere we go again! As I do each week, I am really enjoying bringing our readers a quick round-up of the blog coverage I didn’t manage to get to during the week prior.
 
In addition, here at SMB Nation, we are in total crunch time mode gearing up for our annual fall event to be held this week in Las Vegas at the Rio! We have designed a brand new Web site specifically for this event, which you must check out today. For additional information on the new Web site, our cool XP Migrations video produced by Bigger Brains, and our fall conference, check out our blog post here. Hurry up, and get your registration in, as we are just about a couple of days away from this event…it’s go time!

Please take some time to peruse a few snippets of information that we didn’t get a chance to bring you last week….let us also know if there was something we might have missed, which is not mentioned in this entry…because as you know…we love news!

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Continuum Signs Biz Associate Agreements with MSPs Under New HIPAA Rules

continuum logoContinuum said it has gone to great lengths to ensure it is fully prepared to assist its partners and their clients in meeting the standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. In addition to strengthening its technical, administrative, and physical security, the company has created the Continuum HIPAA Resource Center to provide up-to-date compliance information for MSPs that helps them gain a better understanding of the technical implications involved with new HIPAA rules.

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What's Next for Zenith Infotech?

Zenith Infotech logoFor the last two years, it has been no secret that Zenith Infotech has experienced its share of headlines discussing its current financial situations. It was first noted in October 2011 that the company had defaulted on $85 million in foreign currency convertible bonds. Now, just last week, The Economic Times of India (Zenith is based in Mumbai, but has U.S. headquarters outside of Pittsburgh, PA) reported that the “Bombay High Court has admitted the winding-up petition (meaning an order has been sought to put a company into compulsory liquidation) filed by foreign lenders. In addition, the article said that the court has appointed an advocate as a provisional liquidator.

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ASCII Group Makes a Stop in Atlantic City for its Roadshow Series

This year’s ASCII Group Summit road show stop for the NY/NJ area moved its location further south from Woodbridge to Atlantic City, NJ. Held at Caesar’s (no, not where the real Caesar lived), the event attracted a healthy mix of MSPs, VARs, vendors and distributors. I even managed to reconnect with a friend that I have known since first grade, who coincidently was attending with her husband, Joseph Fulgieri, a Long Island-based VAR.

(Pictured): ASCII Summit attendees gathered today at Caesar's in Atlantic City for a full day of business strategy tactics and education.

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Continuum Doubles NOC Capacity with Move to 24/7 Facility in Mumbai, India

As many of our readers have observed, we have spoken with Continuum a few times in the last couple of months regarding the changes and expansions the RMM is undergoing. Today, the company announced another one of its initiatives, this time regarding its Network Operations Center (NOC).

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AVG/LPI Acquisition (Part 2): LPI’s Dave Sobel Responds

Yesterday I posted a blog based on a conversation I had with Michael George, CEO, Continuum, regarding AVG's acquisition of LPI. Today, in the second part of this two-part article, we'll focus on a discussion I had with Dave Sobel (pictured), who is VP of LPI’s partner community, and whom I have known back from when he was on the other side, as the CEO of his own MSP firm Evolve Technologies.

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Continuum State of the Union: We are Stronger than Ever, and Completely MSP-Focused

At this point, about 18 months later, you would have been living in a cave if you are involved in the SMB channel and had not heard that Zenith Infotech’s managed services business unit was spun off as a separate entity known as Continuum. Based in Boston, the company, in which VC firm Summit Partners has made a sizable investment, Continuum (formerly known as Zenith RMM), operates as a strong U.S.-based company that is continually focused on its MSPs and helping them to better their lives—both professionally and personally.

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Continuum, Growth Achievement Partners Forge Alliance to Help with Managed Services Transition

Continuum, and Growth Achievement Partners (GAP), a major provider of sales and operational consulting in the office technology marketplace, announced their strategic alliance to establish a new Managed Services Business Model specifically for office technology dealerships. The model provides a blueprint for a seamless transition into this adjacent opportunity, so dealers can capitalize on lucrative trends toward off-site management, HaaS (hardware as a service) and cloud-based offerings. This transition will help deliver recurring revenues and customer growth to dealers through an expanded solutions and network services offering, resulting in accelerated financial performance.

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Continuum’s Marketing Advantage Program will Help MSPs Populate, Nurture Sales Leads

In response to high partner demand for a complete lead generation solution, Continuum introduced today Marketing Advantage, a fully integrated, turnkey marketing program. Developed using input from hundreds of MSPs and research into how and why SMBs buy IT services, the program goes beyond traditional approaches to offer a highly systematic process that addresses the unique marketing requirements of MSPs. Designed as a set-and-forget system, Marketing Advantage requires minimal investment in time and resources with everything implemented and completely customized to the MSP’s brand identity. 

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Continuum will Serve as Exclusive MSP for CMIT Solutions Worldwide Franchises

Based in Texas, CMIT Solutions announced Continuum as the exclusive managed services software and services provider for its more than 135 franchises nationwide. The arrangement enables CMIT franchisees to more efficiently and cost-effectively deliver comprehensive IT management, protection and support services that meet all the technology needs of their small-to-mid-sized business (SMB) customers. IT service providers who adopt Continuum’s fully integrated platform can achieve unprecedented gross margins in their managed services business, which is not possible using alternative software-only solutions.

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Continuum’s Tech Advantage Program Offers MSPs High-Value, Low-Cost Expertise

Continuum said today it is now offering Continuum Tech Advantage, a new program that allows its MSP partners to leverage the expertise of more than 200 certified engineers and technicians on a project-by-project basis.

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Continuum Partners Can “Revive” BDR with Free Re-Imaging Technology

Continuum said today that it is currently offering the immediate availability of Continuum BDR Revive, a quick way to breathe new life into existing backup and disaster recovery (BDR) appliances. Continuum BDR Revive is an easy-to-use BDR re-imaging tool that upgrades Zenith Infotech, Dell AppAssure, Axcient, HEROWare, Chartec and other BDR hardware that meets minimum hardware requirements, into Continuum Vault appliances.

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