MSP 501 Profile: Stratosphere Networks Pivots to Managed Cybersecurity Services

The MSP transformed a Chicago convention center into a massive hospital for COVID-19 patients.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

December 10, 2021

5 Min Read

Company Name: Stratosphere Networks
Company MSP 501 Rank: 89
CEO: Steve Melchiorre
Headquartered: Evanston, Illinois

Primary Services:

  • Managed cybersecurity, IT services, infrastructure and cloud phone systems.

Twitter: @StratosphereNet

Stratosphere Networks, which this year cracked the top 100 of the MSP 501, decided several years ago to become a managed cybersecurity services provider as well as a managed IT service provider. It now serves as a single source for all of its clients’ IT and cybersecurity needs.

The company provides solutions including Microsoft, VMware, Citrix, Sonicwall, Cisco, Juniper, Aruba, Meru, Extreme Networks and more. Its professional services group designs, implements and maintains IT infrastructure at all levels.

Businesses that lack IT staff turn to Stratosphere Networks for full help desk, server and infrastructure support. Businesses that do have IT personnel on staff can utilize the company’s overlay services to support their group.

CEO Steve Melchiorre touches on navigating the pandemic and pivoting to managed cybersecurity services.

Channel Futures: What new opportunities and challenges came with the global COVID-19 pandemic?


Stratosphere Networks’ Steve Melchiorre

Steve Melchiorre: Fortunately, we had already migrated most of our clients from on-premises technology to the cloud for their phone systems and critical business applications before the pandemic. For those that still needed cloud or remote work infrastructure, we quickly deployed the necessary solutions.

Internally, our staff members already had the technology needed (IP phones and laptops) to work effectively from home. There was a lot of uncertainty at the beginning of the pandemic as, after the initial remote-work infrastructure deployments, project work and demand for on-site support slowed down.

However, the city of Chicago and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency did call us and ask us to help them transform McCormick Place (the largest convention center in North America) into the McCormick Alternate Care Facility, a 3,000-plus bed field hospital to prepare for a potential surge in patients as a result of the pandemic. That kept us busy as our team worked around the clock, leveraging our relationships with IT solution suppliers to get the hospital up and running as quickly as possible. We confirmed equipment availability and designed the architecture of the IT and telecom network for the facility.

Our team tackled device procurement, on-site setup and installation, project management services, security services, coordination of communication between everyone involved, and more. Ultimately, with help from our partners, we finished a project that normally would have taken a year or longer in just two weeks. It was both the most challenging and the most meaningful project we’ve ever taken on. We knew many lives were potentially at risk. And I’m incredibly proud of our team for performing exceptionally well under pressure and meeting the deadline.

CF: Tell us the story of the biggest pivot you’ve ever had to execute.

SM: To meet our clients’ growing cybersecurity needs as cybercrime became an increasingly pressing issue, we decided several years ago to become a managed cybersecurity services provider as well as a managed IT service provider. This took considerable time and effort. It was essentially equivalent to launching another business that required different experience, skills and technologies to properly safeguard our clients’ data and networks.

Ultimately, it made sense for us. That’s because there would end up being too much finger-pointing if we utilized a third-party provider for security solutions. There would be too much overlap between them and us in terms of firewall, antivirus and so on. We’re better off serving as a single source for all of our clients’ IT and cybersecurity needs.

Today our state-of-the-art network operations center (NOC) is also a security operations center (SOC). And our CISO has carefully evaluated the many solutions on the market and selected the best cybersecurity offerings to create a best-in-class portfolio that we deliver and manage for our clients.

CF: If applicable, why are you a business owner instead of working for someone else? What is the allure of entrepreneurship to you?

SM: Entrepreneurship and working for myself instead of someone else has always appealed to me. I founded my first company while I was still in high school. And when I was in college, I launched a business washing and sealing outdoor decks. That grew to have over 200 repeat clients. In those early days, I handled things by myself and didn’t have a staff.

After I founded this company in 2003, I had a team of people working for me for the first time and had to develop managerial and leadership skills. I realize that a great customer experience starts with an exceptional employee experience, which hinges on skilled leadership. So I’ve invested in professional development for myself and the rest of our leadership team.

A big part of the allure of entrepreneurship is helping businesses succeed and improving the surrounding community. As a company, we do our best to demonstrate how much we care about the companies we serve. It’s our mission to empower our clients through exceptional service and our vision to be the technology partner that everyone wants to work with. We also encourage our team members to give back through our community service program. And they get an additional two days of paid time off for participation in sponsored volunteer activities.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Edward Gately or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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