Within recent years, the IT industry has been moving at a pace which we may never experience again in our lifetimes. With more cloud options becoming available and continuous changes across the industry, it can be difficult for small businesses to keep up or have the inclination or investment to build a team inhouse to manage their IT demands.
Within the past few years, across our partner channels we’ve seen an increasing demand from smaller businesses seeking external expertise; this in turn has meant more IT vendors than ever are now focusing on managed services within their propositions, with dedicated resources and programmes available to MSPs to target this market.
My advice for organisations perhaps seeking an MSP would be find a partner who offers a variety of services that can be tailored to your business objectives. Ensure that they aspire to use the most advanced technology available in the marketplace, which has been tried, tested and proven over a long period of time. Remember, we live in a 24/7 world these days, find an MSP who will go above and beyond for its customers, providing a 24/7 partnership to look after all the backend stuff so you don’t have to worry about it.
To give you some further insight, we also asked an MSP and an industry analyst to provide their opinion. Rick Gray, founder of MSP Effective Cyber Security says, ‘Across UK industry there is a lack of skilled IT professionals and resources available to SMEs, adding to the quantity and severity of threats that businesses face within cyberspace nowadays.
You are likely to be targeted
From a hacker’s perspective it doesn’t matter if you’re a small or large organisation, you’re still likely to be targeted at some point, so you need security in place to deal with those threats, he adds.
Gray also finds that another key factor driving interest in managed services is the compatibility of backup and cloud services to suit specific needs.
‘For instance, using Office 365 allows users to store and backup data in the cloud, however once the volume of data increases to a certain point, users often face expensive and complex methods to access and retrieve that information. Many MSPs however offer cloud-to-cloud service archives and a onedrive sharepoint, which doesn’t inflict any limitations on data or create additional cost, resulting in unlimited storage in the cloud for users.
‘The practicality of monthly subscription models is also a consideration for many organisations; by removing IT infrastructure from a CAPEX into an OPEX model it can allow financial directors and CEO’s to budget more effectively for the future.’
Clive Longbottom, offering independent analyst for the IT industry says there are two ends of the spectrum where an MSP play strongly, with a range of offerings possible in between. On the one hand, managed service providers have the ability to use automation to tackle the menial tasks which may be repetitive and subject to errors by humans. The other end of the spectrum is where The MSP has a much greater level of domain expertise than an SME can hope to achieve.
‘In the case of managing security for example, where there is a new or previously unknown advanced threat that has come through, the chances of an average SME picking this up and knowing how to deal with it are very slim. For an MSP with security as part of its portfolio, they’ll have a better idea of how to react and can apply the tools which most organisations struggle to onboard and find almost impossible to keep up to date.’
Find an MSP for both ends of the spectrum
Longbottom adds that the trick is to find an MSP that can help cover both ends of the spectrum, who acts as a worthwhile investment and insurance. Within this instance, it’s not like taking out an insurance and hoping nothing happens, you’re taking out insurance as the likelihood is, something will happen.
‘Within a small business many employees are obviously multitasking within the workplace, and an IT support employee may find themselves responsible for cyber security without actually being able to solve and address major threats. When a major security breach occurs or ransomware attack takes place, 30 per cent to 60 per cent of businesses will not recover. However, if they have an MSP behind them, with offsite backups and preferably offerings around business continuity by failing over to cloud-based services, this can help save the business from a catastrophic impact.’
As part of MSP Day 2018 on Wednesday 23rd May, we’ll be releasing some detailed research into the appetite and application of managed IT services within UK businesses. The views of those offering managed services will be compared with the views of those who are using them in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the opportunities and challenges likely to affect the further growth of this sector. For more information, you can visit the MSP Day site here.
Jason Howells is EMEA director at Barracuda MSP.