5 must-haves for managed service providers

A recent survey by Vanson Bourne revealed that 55% of MSP respondents state that customers are demanding Internet of Things-related services, and seven in ten MSPs plan to amend their services based on the wants of the customer.

It’s a constant juggling act to provide customers with the new technologies their businesses need while trying to do so in a profitable way.

Security and systems monitoring is high on the list of customer wants, sending MSPs scrambling to find opportunities to add these services to their business portfolios.

In fact, solution providers in general see security, especially cloud security, as a heightened concern for their clients and a potentially smart way for them to increase revenues and better serve their customers.

Current market conditions

MSPs have to carefully consider what security solutions they will be able to offer. They traditionally have strong technical backgrounds but often lack sufficient business resources to sort through all the partnership options and revenue models to make the right choice.

The security solutions market is a fiercely competitive one. MSPs compete against each other and traditional resellers. Many companies can easily offer security products that are configured as narrow “point solutions” designed to address specific problems such as intrusion detection or perimeter defense.

However, these solutions may work for some clients, but there are as many security challenges and network environments as there are solutions.

Greater sophistication is required these days, as evidenced by the trend in the market to provide customers with higher-value solutions that can combine security with IT monitoring as an integrated service. This addresses a wider variety of problems and the potential for greater business opportunities.

>See also: 6 things to look for in a Managed Security Services Provider

The real trick is to find solutions that integrate well with the many client network landscapes. After all, for every network under management there are a host of challenges and headaches, not to mention multiple network environments that must be managed and secured at any given moment.

Ultimately, MSPs must answer to SLA parameters while increasing ROI in a market where hardware margins continue to drop and operating expenses continue to escalate.

MSPs should consider solutions that will provide the ability to meet and exceed SLA expectations while lowering operating expenses and adding value to the business.

When they’re ready to implement a holistic path to network management, in such a way that they also provide customers with assured compliance and security, they should consider these five best practices.

1. Support all infrastructure options, including cloud

No longer does data reside only in an on-premise data center, so an integrated monitoring and security platform must support physical and virtual infrastructures, including public, private and hybrid clouds.

2. Try the single platform approach

Look for consolidated solutions that link security, performance and compliance services. The days of offering stove-piped solutions for individual problems is long gone, largely due to the reality of how data is created and shared inside an organisation for collaborative decision-making.

Instead of using different products for security, performance monitoring and compliance, a single platform can lower ROI and is less expensive to purchase and deploy, providing potential savings on scarce IT resources for deployment and support.

Additionally, rather than implementing disparate solutions, having all data available in an integrated solution makes it easier and faster to evaluate and identify the root cause of problems.

3. Deliver remote management and support

MSPs need to be able to identify and fix remote problems easily because more and more organisations – and not just multinational conglomerates – have data centres or major computing hubs in different locations.

Also, nearly all organisations are supporting bring-your-own-device policies and other remote computing capabilities, so offering a support agreement that can easily handle problems that crop up in places outside the traditional headquarters facility will be essential.

Ideally, the solution should provide the tools to initiate communications with remote users’ systems – particularly mobile devices – without having to open up security firewalls and expose those links to hackers and other potential security breaches.

4. Support a variety of virtualisation hypervisors

It’s becoming increasingly common for organisations to have two or more different virtual machine (VM) hypervisors running different VM workloads, which means MSPs must find a solution that is hypervisor-agnostic.

This will make it easier to support a variety of cloud computing architectures, such as public clouds like Amazon Web Services or private clouds built by cloud service providers – either on a customer’s site or hosted in the service provider’s data centers.

5. Support and make the most of a multi-tenant architecture

MSPs that have made considerable investments in their own infrastructures need to be able to amortise that cost across many clients. A secure, reliable multi-tenant architecture can do that in a way that is seamless to customers.

The ability to share compute, storage and networking resources across a broad range of customers – without exposing any customers’ vital data to other tenants – allows MSPs to add significant financial value to their offerings.


Sourced from Dan Maloney, AccelOps

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...