From The Expert Feature Article
July 01, 2015

Five 'Must Haves' for MSPs Developing an Integrated Security and Management Solution

By TMCnet Special Guest
Dan Maloney, VP of Marketing and Business Development

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) walk a tightrope every day when it comes to running their businesses: They must be on the constant lookout for new ways to meet their customers’ evolving technology needs, while evaluating the likelihood that they can offer those services reliably, cost-efficiently (for their customers) and profitably (for their own companies).

Not surprisingly, security and systems monitoring are in great demand, leaving many MSPs struggling to identify opportunities to add these services to their business portfolios. In fact, solution providers in general see security, especially cloud security, as a heightened concern for their clients and a potentially smart way for them to increase revenues and better serve their customers.

What should you look for when implementing a multi-tenant environment that monitors and secures network infrastructure across both physical and virtual boundaries? In this article, we will take a look at five best practices for service providers to consider when adding security and monitoring services to their already burgeoning tool kit.

Multiple Clients, Little Time, Many Solutions: the Challenge of the MSP

Making smart decisions on the type of security solutions to offer can be tricky for MSPs. They traditionally have strong technical backgrounds but often lack sufficient business resources to sort through all the partnership options and revenue models to make the right choice.

They also face intense competition from each other and even from traditional resellers when offering security solutions. Many companies can easily offer security products that are configured as narrow “point solutions” designed to address specific problems such as intrusion detection or perimeter defense. However, these solutions may work for some clients, but there are as many security challenges and network environments as there are solutions.

MSPs today are forced to become more sophisticated. There is a trend in the market to provide customers with higher-value solutions that can combine security with IT monitoring as an integrated service, thus addressing a wider variety of problems and the potential for greater business opportunities.

Five Best Practices for Implementing Network Monitoring and Security as a Service

Selecting solutions that work in myriad client network landscapes can be a daunting task. After all, for every network under management there are a host of challenges and headaches, not to mention multiple network environments that must be managed and secured at any given moment.

At the end of the day, MSPs must answer to SLA parameters while increasing ROI in a market where hardware margins continue to drop and operating expenses continue to escalate. Consider solutions that will provide you with the ability to meet and exceed SLA expectations while lowering operating expenses and adding value to your business.

Below are five key considerations for MSPs looking to implement a holistic path to network management, while providing customers with assured compliance and security.

  1. Implement consolidated solutions: Explore consolidated solutions that link security, performance and compliance services. The days of offering stove-piped solutions for individual problems is long gone, largely due to the reality of how data is created and shared inside an organization for collaborative decision-making. Instead of using different products for security, performance monitoring and compliance, a single platform can lower ROI and is less expensive to purchase and deploy, providing potential savings on scarce IT resources for deployment and support. Additionally, rather than implementing disparate solutions, having all data available in an integrated solution makes it easier and faster to evaluate and identify the root cause of problems.
  2. Support all infrastructure options, including the different cloud architectures: No longer does data reside only in an on-premise data center, so an integrated monitoring and security platform must support physical and virtual infrastructures, including public, private and hybrid clouds.
  3. Provide remote management and support: While there are many remote management platforms on the market, you will need to be able to identify and fix remote problems easily, regardless of the approach you take. More and more organizations—and not just multinational conglomerates—have data centers or major computing hubs in different locations. Also, nearly all organizations are supporting bring-your-own-device policies and other remote computing capabilities, so offering a support agreement that can easily handle problems that crop up in places outside the traditional headquarters facility will be essential. Ideally, the solution should provide the tools to initiate communications with remote users’ systems—particularly mobile devices—without having to open up security firewalls and expose those links to hackers and other potential security breaches.
  4. Be sure you can support and take advantage of a multi-tenant architecture: MSPs that have sunk considerable investment into their own infrastructures need to be able to amortize that cost across many clients. A secure, reliable multi-tenant architecture can do that in a way that is seamless to each of your customers. The ability to share compute, storage and networking resources across a broad range of customers—without exposing any customers’ vital data to other tenants—allows MSPs to add significant financial value to their offerings.
  5. Work with all major virtualization hypervisors: The virtual machine (VM) hypervisor market is becoming increasingly fragmented. Microsoft, Citrix, Oracle (News - Alert), Red Hat and other major vendors are all making significant inroads into the market leadership position long enjoyed by VMware. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly common for organizations to have two or more different hypervisors running different VM workloads, which means MSPs must find a solution that is hypervisor-agnostic. This will make it easier to support a variety of cloud computing architectures such as public clouds like Amazon Web Services (News - Alert) or private clouds built by cloud service providers either on a customer’s site or hosted in the service provider’s data centers.

Integrated Solutions (News - Alert) Enhance Existing Service Agreements

As MSPs look to better serve the needs of their customers, functions such as security, performance monitoring and compliance are always at or the near top of customers’ requirements. This is prompting MSPs to look for ways to support those requirements in an integrated solution that can be quickly deployed and easily upgraded over time to become a recurring revenue stream for the MSP.

An integrated solution has now become a critical requirement for MSPs looking to provide wider and deeper capabilities for their customers’ increasingly complex IT architecture. That solution also must be easily adaptable to a wide range of infrastructure designs, supporting physical and virtual environments on-premises, co-located or fully managed on an outsourced basis.

Consolidating monitoring consoles will provide support staff with a much-desired single- pane-of-glass view of customer environments, reducing deployment costs and allowing your organization to provide higher-value, higher-margin services. What’s in your tool box?

Download the complete whitepaper here.               

About the Author: Dan Maloney is vice president of marketing and business development for AccelOps, the leader in actionable security intelligence for the modern data center. Maloney has nearly 20 years of experience in the enterprise software arena, serving as general manager and global vice president for eCommerce at SAP (News - Alert). Dan was at SAP for 12 years, where he held a variety of leadership roles, including global vice president of business development, focusing on selecting, structuring and enabling SAP's partnerships for cloud, mobility and traditional on-premise software. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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