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Ensuring MSP Relevance in a World Gone Cloud

Ensuring MSP Relevance in a World Gone Cloud

Finding ways to remain relevant in a cloud computing world is vital to MSP success these days. Especially when customers appear so willing to work directly with cloud service providers (CSPs). This month, I'm focusing this guest blog on how MSPs can attract and retain customers with services that securely integrate cloud-based and on-premises solutions.

The level of security expertise found in MSPs is unlikely to be found in all but the largest of companies. I’m talking the Fortune 500 here. Medium and even quite large companies simply can’t afford the level of in-house talent required to securely, seamlessly integrate SaaS applications with internal IT environments. MSPs are therefore the obvious choice for help.

When customers work with MSPs, they’re able to integrate their SaaS applications and on-premises solutions, leveraging their existing internal identity, security event managers and compliance systems (among other things). This integration simplifies the user experience, streamlines provisioning and deprovisioning, and drives down costs—while significantly bolstering customer security.

Do You Have What It Takes?

Bringing together the external SaaS world and internal IT environment as one secure, cohesive computing solution takes several core capabilities:
  • Seamless identity and access management. Most customers will want to leverage their existing identity stores and access management infrastructure for authenticating to cloud-based applications. Provisioning also needs to happen in a timely manner, so new employees have access to the resources they need to do their jobs. Deprovisioning needs to happen just as fast, so rogue users can’t gain access to critical information after leaving the company.
  • Single sign-on capabilities. Regardless of the number of SaaS applications or internal solutions that a customer is using, its workforce needs to be able to sign on with a single set of credentials. An environment that requires multiple user names and passwords will only hinder productivity, increase costs and possibly compromise security as passwords are often written down and stored on notes next to computers.
  • Roles management. User roles need to be automatically mapped from customers’ identity systems to roles used by connected SaaS applications. Then, each time an employee leaves or changes roles, company managers can make the change once, and it’s reflected in the applications.
  • Solid compliance. Compliance needs to be just as solid for cloud-based solutions as it is for internal systems. Audit logging is a specific requirement of many regulatory and standards bodies. You need to be able to track, correlate and report compliance events from the cloud back to the various security event managers used by your customers. This information need to be readable by any log manager. There is a prime opportunity here for MSPs to help customers without sophisticated compliance systems to evolve.

Novell Cloud Security Service Can Help

Where does my company, Novell, fit into the discussion? Novell Cloud Security Service includes out-of-the-box application connectors for integrating SaaS applications into a common management framework, regardless of platform or technology. That way, you can seamlessly share roles, policies and workflows in the cloud for transparent integration of cloud-based and on-premises systems. I suggest you check out this important new service.

Dan Dufault is global director of partner marketing at Novell. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of Dufault's guest blogs here.
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