How the MSP industry has changed: Reflections after 4 years away

Some of you may know me already, but I’d like to formally introduce myself to those of you who don’t. My name is Tim Wholey, and I’m a regional account director at Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda. My journey with Intronis started back in 2010, and the industry has changed quite a bit since then—something that’s especially clear to me as I return to the IT channel after four years away.

I worked at Intronis for three years, but then in 2013 I left for a new adventure. After a while, I started to miss the MSP market, though, and in early 2017 when Intronis MSP Solutions was looking for a new regional account director, I found myself quickly updating my resume and bringing my suit to the dry cleaners. Now that I have a few months back under my belt, I wanted to share my perspective about how the industry has changed. While four years away may not seem that long, technology is constantly evolving. But, I’m sure you know that already.

Changes and new opportunities for MSPs

What surprises me most coming back into the industry is how the number of MSPs out there has grown and how the previously hesitant SMB segment has embraced managed services. There is also broader adoption of managed services across the mid-sized market. It’s clear that more companies are taking advantage of the efficiencies and cost savings that managed services can provide.

Managed service providers that were previously ahead of the pack in providing backup and disaster recovery as a service to their clients are now ahead of the curve with security services. During my first run with Intronis, being ‘proactive’ as an MSP meant monitoring SMBs’ networks and providing a plan in the event of a data loss disaster. Now, the proactive approach consists of protecting the network that the data is living on with both backup and security products.

Instead of just selling managed services based on the fear that a natural disaster could happen, providers can now use their trusted advisor status to educate customers about current threats and sell solutions that mitigate them. Today, no one is safe from cybercrime. No matter what size their business is or where they live, SMB customers could be the target of these attacks.

With so many cyber threats out there, I suggest having your clients sign an affidavit if they decide to forego certain services that you recommend. That way, instead of the SMB putting the blame on you when something goes wrong, you can prove that they’re liable because they declined those services.

The IT channel is moving toward security—and many MSPs are using this as an opportunity to expand their service offerings. More and more SMBs are moving to Office 365 every day, but according to a recent Barracuda survey 70 percent of respondents believe that by itself Office365 doesn’t sufficiently protect them from ransomware threats. This is a where you have the opportunity as an IT provider to step in and help!

As adoption of the public cloud and cloud solutions increases, SMBs are going to need more robust security solutions because host applications are not immune to threats. Activity is increasing inside and outside the network to access applications and data, so there are more threat vectors and chances for vulnerabilities to occur, which creates an increased need for security and protection from zero-day attacks.

As the industry continues to evolve, IT service providers need to embrace the changes and technology that comes along with it. After all, my experience has taught me that nothing in the managed service space stays the same for very long.

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