Survey reveals the biggest challenges and opportunities in the future of the MSP.

Acronis Guest Blogger

December 2, 2021

5 Min Read
future of the MSP
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It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for the IT channel. As businesses around the world shifted to remote-first work models, they’ve rapidly adopted new technologies to support needs like file sync-and-share and real-time collaboration. With more sensitive information exposed to the internet than ever before, the need for effective data protection and cybersecurity has never been higher.

Many MSPs have been thriving in this environment, and the potential for further growth is still immense. Acronis recently published a new report entitled MSPs Speak: Cybersecurity and the future role of the MSP. Conducted by Vanson Bourne, this original research surveyed 400 MSPs across the globe, diving into their biggest challenges and opportunities in providing comprehensive cybersecurity, data backup and disaster recovery solutions.

At the Acronis #CyberFit Summit World Tour 2021 in Miami last month, we listened in on a panel discussion among some of the IT channel’s top voices as they explored what these findings really mean for today’s service providers. Here are a few of the biggest takeaways:

Smaller MSPs Are Struggling the Most

Security is even harder for smaller service providers (those with one to four employees). Compared to their largest peers, they’re nearly twice as likely to have reported clients suffering from dangerous breaches like supply chain attacks and zero-day exploits. This is likely due, at least in part, to the tendency for small service providers to work with small clients, who are often particularly resistant to spending more on enablement and security services.

“There were a number of instances where we were seeing quite clearly that the smallest … MSPs were struggling on a couple of levels,” said Joshua Beil, Director of Research and Analyst Relations at Acronis. “Struggling with the shift toward remote work, and handling that. Struggling with a couple of these attack vectors, like supply chain attacks [and] zero-day attacks. They were having some challenges dealing with integration, as well.”

Small MSPs have reported that managing remote work environments is a notable challenge–53% indicated that they have a limited number of tools for this purpose, and 58% said that attempting to manage remote environments has increased their costs. But as we’ll see, simply adding tools is rarely the optimal path to take.

Vendor Consolidation Can Improve Security and Efficiency

To cover protection gaps and enable new services, MSPs may be tempted to pile more tools onto their stack. Unfortunately, this can add as many problems as it solves.

“Tool sprawl,” as the practice is often known, will at a certain point cause the time and resources spent on management to outweigh any benefits gained–especially when those solutions don’t function together smoothly. This report showed that many MSPs struggled in particular to integrate security solutions with their existing business/IT systems (40%), and with security workflow and process creation/updates (37%).

“The companies with fewer vendors, according to the data in this report here, are not only more confident about the effectiveness of the services they provide, they’re more profitable,” said Rich Freeman, Executive Editor at ChannelPro Network. “We care because the highly integrated companies spend five hours less responding to breaches. We care because consolidating delivers Click on page 2 to continue reading… $229,159 of savings, on average.”

SaaS Management Offers Excellent Growth Potential

MSPs report that their clients use an average of 14 SaaS tools–yet those same MSPs are, on average, only managing 58% of these tools. Just 3% of MSPs claimed to be fully responsible for their clients’ SaaS solutions.

This discrepancy is a dangerous one, not only to your partially-managed clients–whose SaaS data is not being properly protected–but to your own business through them, and your other clients in turn.

There’s room for explosive growth here, so long as service providers are able to impress upon their clients the benefits of having their SaaS tools properly managed. Some of the most common obstacles MSPs encountered include lacking the right relationships with line-of-business decision makers (44%), lacking the right tools (41%), and a general absence of trust between parties (39%).

“The average SaaS growth was 30% quarter-on-quarter, year-on-year inside the pandemic,” said Jay McBain, Principal Analyst at Forrester. “Managed services as an industry … is growing at 11[%]. So that just tells me right off the top that there’s a way to triple–if not more–the opportunity around security.”

The Path Forward: Consolidation, Integration, Automation

While the potential for growth is immense, it’s clear that MSPs are facing a number of challenges in providing effective security services in an evolving world. Throwing more tools at the problem certainly isn’t the solution, as solution management and process control are already among the most common topics of complaint.

Service providers with an eye toward the future should look to limit the number of different vendors they work with, and to streamline their workflows with integration and automation. Such tactics will enable service providers to deliver more effective and efficient protection–even if they’re contending with skill limitations, a common issue during the current IT talent shortage. MSPs who are successful in these efforts will have a material advantage over their competition.

All-in-one solutions–like Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud–fit the needs of today’s service providers like a glove. Imagine being able to manage all your clients’ data backup, cybersecurity and disaster recovery needs through a single agent: that’s one backend, one management console, one user interface and one vendor support line. See for yourself with a 30-day free trial.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.


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