As many MSPs continue to expand their offerings, Alvaka Networks in Irvine, CA, is seeking to narrow its offering in an effort to appeal to its main client base.
Alvaka's business technology officer, Dave Cunningham, told CPI in an interview that the MSP is being "very selective" about adding to its solution set as it seeks to grow revenue by 25 percent in 2019.
"We are somewhat unusual in that I would say that 90 percent of MSPs are expanding their solution set, whereas we are probably [getting] more and more narrow, more focused, partially because we are pursuing a larger-than-average client size than most MSPs," Cunningham said.
Alvaka Networks caters for mid-market to small enterprise customers, meaning businesses of between 500 and 5,000 employees, which Cunningham notes is a different market to many MSPs. As such, the firm is only adding to its solution set in a very conservative manner. Along with this, Cunningham pointed out that only offerings that existing staff can deliver, that clients are asking for and that are complementary to existing offerings will be added.
In a further effort to differentiate itself Alvaka offers patch management as-a-service, which, according to Cunningham, lends itself well to the MSP's customer base as it's an area where larger organizations struggle.
"Large organizations really struggle to patch their environment and supply all the security updates, so that's something that is ideally outsourced to a company like ours," he said.
Cunningham notes that this is an area that offers Alvaka the opportunity to partner with MSSPs who may not have the resources to be able to do patch management themselves.
"What we are seeing is that the MSSP, while they are doing vulnerability management, they don't have the staff or the skills to be able to do the patch management, which is a remediation task.
"So that's an example where, if an MSSP attempts to provide that service to their clients, they can struggle because they don't have the skills to do that kind of infrastructure management task. So instead they could partner with an MSP like us."
The staff skill shortage also leaves MSPs exposed to the risk of being a point of entry for hackers to attack their clients, as well as being a target themselves, Cunningham noted. What this means is MSPs "increasingly needing to demonstrate that they themselves have the adequate security measures in place to prevent their clients from being attacked via the MSP".
"For the MSP, in order to be able to demonstrate they can secure their own environments, they may wish to implement or secure their environment according to a particular framework," he said. "The one that we use is the CompTIA Security Trust Mark+, which is a superset of various frameworks. And we need to implement those methods and controls, and then we need to be able to demonstrate to our clients that those controls are in place."
Another consideration for MSPs operating in the mid-market and upwards is a difference in cloud migrations, Cunningham said. While MSP chatter these days is dominated by talk of complex cloud migrations, Cunningham said Alvaka tends to support legacy infrastructure, meaning the firm is less impacted than most MSPs by current cloud trends.
"For mid-market and enterprise customers, the migration to the cloud is being done on a tactical and very selective basis. So we think the SMB market, which many MSPs service, is probably more impacted than we are - whether it be a threat or opportunity - by clients moving to both the cloud and software as-a-service offerings.
"These large organizations have investments in their line-of-business applications that they have built proprietary processes around, and to migrate to a software as-a-service application is not as feasible as it might be for a small business."
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