What MSSPs Need: Simplicity, Reach, Visibility, Unity
Every day cyberattacks cripple organizations of all sizes and across all industries. According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report, there were more than 53,000 security incidents and 2,216 data breaches last year alone — and those are just the ones reported. Many of these attacks were on small-to-midsize businesses that don’t have adequate expertise or resources to protect themselves.
Since the average total cost of a data breach in 2017 was $3.63 million, according to a Ponemon study, smaller organizations might face bankruptcy just through a single breach. So it’s no wonder businesses increasingly are turning to managed service providers and value-added resellers for security help.
Because where there’s pain there’s profit, I see many resellers changing to a managed-services model with packaged security services. There are two main reasons for this.
First, customers are now used to getting a service rather than buying a product, a shift being fueled by increasing confidence in SaaS and cloud technologies. VARs are realizing that reselling products is a highly competitive market, and it’s becoming commoditized. If everyone is fighting for margins, there’s no room for differentiation and winning the customer’s trust. A better idea: Offer a bundle that meets business needs via multiple solutions and focus on a service-level agreement as a commitment. This helps create a recurring and consistent revenue stream.
Second, break-fix professional services just don’t help when it comes to security or thwarting advanced and evolving threats. To truly meet a customer’s needs, partners must provide a complete set of security services – preventing, detecting and responding to any security incidents – and remote management, remote monitoring and reporting services.
When done properly and with a valuable service offering, the transition to an MSSP can be both lucrative and fulfilling. If you are a VAR, a digital service provider or a transformative MSP looking to add managed security, here are some key considerations for building a successful portfolio:
- Look for managed security solutions that allow for simplified initial deployment, ongoing maintenance and management, and upgrades. The simpler, the better. Managed-security service use cases require remote management. That management, as well as ongoing maintenance, upgrades and configuration of security policies, are the most common services that MSSPs provide as part of a packaged offering, on either customer- or partner-owned products. To provide this value effectively, partners need centralized access to all the security products from one single interface.
- Remote monitoring is critical when transitioning to an MSSP model. Customer’s IT infrastructures are constantly evolving. New malware variants and threats are discovered daily. The “set it and forget it” formula is no longer viable. MSSPs need ongoing, actionable visibility into their customer’s networks and the ability to do universal updates quickly to provide effective services and protect margins.
- Regulatory or audit requirements – such as PCI or HIPAA and now GDPR – are now commonplace. Managed-security service providers must demonstrate deep understanding and compliance with these standards. Solutions that deliver actionable visibility that enable easy monitoring, reporting and troubleshooting capabilities help satisfy these requirements.
- Security threats are constantly evolving. The Q4 Internet Security Report from my company, WatchGuard, found that approximately half of incoming malware did not match an existing malware signature; it was either a new piece of malware or an old one with its code obfuscated to slip past defenses. It’s critical for a managed-security service portfolio to include protection against both known, and new and evasive threats. The security coverage should start with the fixed network and extend beyond the perimeter to cover Wi-Fi, endpoints, user identities and applications. It also should scale from physical to virtual environments.
The transition from VAR to MSSP comes with some obvious challenges, like maintaining SLAs; hence, partners setting up managed services must fully understand the capabilities offered to their customers, and not overpromise. Partners should deliver a layered security approach with packaged basic and advanced security services that include prevention, detection and response capabilities backed by threat intelligence or correlation. Additionally, incorrect vendor selection, taking a vendor-agnostic approach, or not having a fully certified and trained staff, can lead to variably high TCO of the services being delivered, hence diluting the profits and souring the customer experience. The more automation delivered directly from the vendor, the better the TCO for a partner to setup a managed-service portfolio.
The managed-security services market is on an aggressive growth path, fueled by small-to-midsize businesses. There is a huge opportunity for MSPs and VARs to create new recurring revenue streams and establish deep relationships with their customers by making the transition to offering managed-security services.
Himanshu Verma | Channel Futures
Himanshu Verma is a director of product management at WatchGuard Technologies, with a primary focus on delivering WatchGuard products and solutions to the managed security service provider (MSSP) market. Prior to WatchGuard, he held product management roles for the enterprise authentication-as-a-service division of SafeNet (now Gemalto). During his time at SafeNet, Himanshu helped transition the enterprise authentication business from a traditional on-premises product to a highly successful SaaS solution.