What will be the chief challenges for MSPs in 2015? Marc Thaler talks to MAXfocus Security Lead Ian Trump in part one of a four-part series, starting with network security.
Ian Trump recently conducted the initial IT assessment for a concrete company that’s big on wireless technology. The company, he learned, bought a voice over IP (VoIP) system that it wanted to integrate immediately. The vendor, however, couldn’t move forward with the project; the company’s cable infrastructure was unsuitable and first needed to be replaced.
Trump, the security lead at MAXfocus, says the story is analogous to building a house. He wants managed service providers (MSPs) to know that, in 2015, their customers will be eager to “add a second story” of wireless services and network-connected devices.
“But you better make sure the foundation is good,” Trump says. “Or you could lose lots of money.”
In this case, “foundation” is synonymous with “security.” Cyber-attack strategies are rapidly growing in sophistication, the tactics more innovative. Trump sees the MSP’s service focusing on increased point-of-sale (POS) attacks, and threats to non-Windows machines such as routers and web-enabled inter-connected devices (think “Internet of Things”).
Therefore, the number one motivator for MSPs in the year ahead should be protecting customers from a data breach. Many of them may be growing desensitized to the threat; the result of several high-profile hacks in 2014.
According to Trump, a growing number of conversations within companies are starting with six words: “It would be cool to have …”
Operating on impulse is extremely risky. There’s a danger in looking past – or failing to understand altogether – how that thought must finish.
MSPs need to complete the sentence for their customers with these nine words: “How do we do it – and make it safe.”
“That’s the conversation that’s going to happen a lot in 2015. It’s a big challenge to integrate all Internet of Things (technologies) and keep the customer safe.”
MSPs may just need to serve as the voice of reason. Ever deal with a customer whose judgment was clouded by the excitement of introducing yet another service into an already crowded equation?
Trump envisions customers being drawn to new devices that either automate, or partially automate, a service. This could conflict with the MSP’s philosophy. Adding new services too quickly to the network can create performance and security issues.
That’s why anticipating customer needs is essential. Talk to your clients about what they want to do over the next six to 12 months. Based on what you hear, act accordingly.
Give yourself time to investigate the products and services they want to introduce. Seek advice from peers in the MSP community. Make sure you’ve tested the products, or at least recognize how they work in a business environment.
Educate the companies you serve.
“It’s an easy conversation to have,” Trump says. “But MSPs need to make time, so they don’t get blindsided by fancy new technology that makes its way in.”
Integrating the many new items your customers covet is a big theme for 2015. It’s going to take an extraordinary effort.
Focus on the foundation. The last thing you want is to look up and see that second story crashing down around you.