Thales was highly commended in our Best Security Offering category at the CPI MSP Innovation Awards in New York on Thursday night.
The firm answers our five crucial questions for MSPs.
1) What will a successful MSP look like in three to five years' time?
Hybrid cloud is the new normal as we see an increasing number of IT resources and functions adopting a mixed environment, and MSPs are recognizing this enormous opportunity.
As more customers move data between multiple and different clouds, private clouds and essential on-premises environments, the successful MSP will need to be able to support them. Every service or cloud provider, from the smallest SMB hosting company to the biggest hyperscale player, needs to build a partner network; collaborate as part of other providers' ecosystems and ideally have an ecosystem that makes its own products, services, or expertise part of other providers' delivery stacks. The MSP that provides sustainable and differentiated value-add services is the one that will stand out over the noise.
With security one of the top issues that enterprises foresee, they look to hybrid clouds to provide answers. As a result, adding layers of security will be critical in delivering that value. And as we move to the future these aspects of enterprise security must be as automated as possible to reduce the need for the current high levels of skills that security demands.
Encryption and security must not be more than a push of a button. That is the goal the channel eco-system has to work towards if we are to make the dramatic reductions in the cybersecurity industry skills gap that is regularly putting data protection out of the reach of many organizations.
2) What has been the most important development in the MSP space over the last 12 months?
Digital transformation has become the driving force behind the both the MSP industry's evolution and also that of its' customer base. While the technological and commercial advances of the cloud have created significant opportunities for enterprises, service providers and IT vendors alike, this cloud-driven transformation has also undone conventional approaches to data security and created compliance challenges when it comes to data control and ownership.
And with increasing demands placed on organizations of all sizes around the world, the need to comply with regulations is ubiquitous. From reducing cost of ownership to empowering IT decision making across the value chain, it is safe to say that the cloud means that life will never be the same for anyone. These technology changes have also changed the security landscape and unwittingly drawn us into a realm of increasing threat vectors, inadequate security practices and bad actors.
This wave of disruption can be overcome using ever advancing automation, processing and intelligence technologies that can be used to build and deliver security an increasingly diverse IT landscape; and the evolution in security is critical to the success of digital transformation. The recognition by MSPs that it is they who have to deliver the security for their applications by providing a "security by design" approach has changed perceptions inexorably.
3) If an MSP had to invest in just one new technology - which one should they pick and why?
Security, of course! There is a fruitful future for both security as part of a service offering as well as Managed Security Services. There is a cyber security skills gap affecting every organization in every industry. If you look at worldwide trends, there aren't enough trained security professionals to go around, leaving organizations without the skills to implement some of the security measures that they need in order to stay safe and comply. This drives the move to the hybrid cloud - where security needs to cover data that is held in multiple clouds and/or continues to be retained on-premises for either data sovereignty, performance or purely policy reasons.
Existing MSPs can now easily incorporate security solutions to strengthen an existing portfolio of managed services, adding another income stream and increasing revenues. For Managed Security Service Providers, adding additional cloud based security solutions to existing on premise offerings provides a path to enhance an existing portfolio of and increase revenue. Hybrid security solutions are reliable, repeatable, and profitable additions that are easily aligned to an MSP business model.
4) Do you think MSPs should be outsourcing core functions such as their helpdesk and security services? Why/why not?
In order to provide the best service for their customers, MSPs have to turn to the experts in each field - whether it is security, applications integration, helpdesk or other aspects that are critical to building hybrid and multi-cloud environments. It is important to find the right balance between the "one-size-fits-all" approach and tailored services. MSPs should know there is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to providing security services. There are some excellent security-as-a-service offerings available that can be white-labelled. It's really all about getting the balance of build versus buy right.
5). What's the biggest threat to an MSP's business today?
The world is never going to be 100 per cent cloud-based because there is always going to be a need for certain organizations to keep sensitive information close and in-house. There are always going to be organizations that cannot move away from on-prem solutions, especially those that must comply with sovereignty requirements like government institutions. As a result, there will always be a need for products intended for on-premises, while other functions can be purchased from an MSP. I believe we're increasingly looking at a future of hybrid infrastructure models and MSP's who are not able to support such hybrid models will struggle to deliver the value and differentiation required to retain sustainable revenues streams and profitability.