MSP Expo Speaker & Exhibitor High Wire Networks On Managed Security Opportunities

By Erik Linask

As we get ready for MSP Expo 2020 – taking place in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida as part of the TechSuperShow experience, we’re looking forward a week packed with information and education for MSPs about all the trends that are creating such a massive opportunity for managed services providers.  In advance of that, I took some time to interview High Wire Networks' President and CEO Mark Porter, to hear some of his thoughts on some of the topics the conference agenda will be featuring.

Here’s what Mark had to say about the one of the most significant opportunities MSPs have today – security services.  Security should be top of mind for every business, but the fact is most companies don't have the expertise to keep up with the threat landscape, which make the security services opportunity a massive one for MSPs.

Give us a brief update on the latest news from High Wire Networks.

We are extremely excited going into 2020. We experienced 53% growth in 2019 and expect significant growth again this year.  Our Overwatch Managed Security Platform has been very warmly received by our existing partners as well as prospective ones.  We made major infrastructure upgrades in December of 2019 including redundancy within our data centers and additional data centers, including our first on the European Continent.

What  is driving the growth of the MSP market?  What is creating an increased demand for managed services?

We are solely focused on managed security, which we think is the single biggest driver in managed services.  More importantly, we see this as a business problem, not a technology problem.  Clients are completely overwhelmed by the complexity of security and it’s now a business necessity, not an option.  There are too many point solutions with very narrow functionality, not enough people to manage them, and too much information coming out of them.

What opportunities exist for MSPs to expand their offerings and increase their value to their customers?

We believe MSPs should be embracing security and partnering to do so.  It’s an incredibly complex and expensive proposition to build a 24x7x365 Security Operations Center, invest in the tooling, recruit and hire the best people, build out data centers, and most importantly, invest in really wellheeled security experts to lead it all. 

We believe that every MSP needs to first have an outside partner to secure their own businesses, then have the discussion with every customer, and lead with prospective new clients.  Customers who are concerned about security are willing to pay for it.  We hear that over and over from our partners.

What is the biggest challenge your customers are facing that creates an opportunity for MSPs?

Our only customers are MSPs and VARS, but they face the same challenges that end users face.  Security is complex and can overwhelm you if you don’t have the expertise.  The opportunity is there to move from trusted partner to trusted authority with their clients by bringing expertise to the table that shows them a path to securing their business that starts with “good hygiene” and leverages the power of incredible amounts of data refined into useful reports and actionable intelligence.

How are you helping businesses overcome those challenges?

The fundamental issue is that there are over 1,200 point solutions, not enough people to operate them, and too much information to possibly manage.  We solve this problem by bringing a handful of the best tools available, the people to manage them, and the expertise to help our partners distill this information into actionable items for their end users that improve their security posture fast, and allow for incremental improvements based on data, not guesswork.

What is the MSP opportunity in delivering cybersecurity services to their customers?

First and foremost, we believe that security is like safety programs.  You don’t do it because you have to; you do it because it’s right.  We all need to focus on helping our clients with security because they need it and we know how to get them pointed in the right direction. 

From a business perspective, the opportunity for MSPs is to not only grow their recurring revenue stack, but to also build on the trust they already have with their clients and expand the relationship.  Solidifying this trust moves them beyond certain areas that may be very price sensitive, and into arenas where competitors may not be able to play.

What challenges do MSPs face as they grow their businesses and seek to increase MRR?

Specifically growing into security, we see the challenge as the “WAM.”  An MSP has to have the Wherewithal, the Ability, and the Money.  To build a scalable world class offering, most estimates are that it costs in the range of $2 million and takes about two years.  Throw in a CISO to oversee and drive it who is a real leader, staff to manage it, and the crazy pace of the evolution of tools, it’s a tall order for the typical MSP.  Throw into that mix the fact that MSPs have to sell it to their existing clients or acquire new ones, and the payback can be an extremely long, if ever.  We have enabled them to go from joining the program to revenue in 90 days or less.

How important are automation and AI to the MSP industry?

Automation and AI are absolutely critical to MSPs.  We won’t even consider a tool that is not built from the ground up on AI and must have Machine Learning, both automated and human assisted.  Our product team is very focused on understanding how the AI and ML work, and make sure we have robust SOAR capabilities in the tools.  Not just for managing workload, but for reducing the time to response in the event of indications of compromise. 

How are MSPs able to handle the constant evolution of technology from an IT expertise perspective to ensure they are able to deliver the services their customers need?

We can only speak from our perspective, but we have a team of people who are constantly evaluating emerging technologies and understanding how they fit into our overall solution.  This means constant testing and evaluating, and then seeing how we can consolidate the output into our AI driven XDR platform so that we are enhancing what we do without adding another tool, another screen to watch, and more raw data that is not filtered for noise by AI and ML engines.  We then ask, “Is the information produced valuable enough to the client or to our analysts that we want to introduce this variable into their environment?”  If it meets that bar and allows us to gain enough context and content, we take it to our Advisory Partners for feedback.

There’s already been a lot of consolidation in the MSP space – do you expect that to continue?  Why or why not?

Our opinion is that as long as there are no significant changes in the macro economic environment, consolidation will continue.  If we face some economic headwinds, we expect that there will be consolidation at the lower end of the market as those who cannot make the transition to supporting cloud and IoT and more complex networks, and those that cannot scale upmarket into security may need to capitulate to those who can or band together.

Why is your session at MSP Expo a must-attend?

Our session, “Two truths and a Lie: Discover the Misconception of Cybersecurity” (2/13 at 11:30AM, Solutions Theatre/Expo Floor) will be a little bit of a different message from what others have to say.  Our entire platform is built around what we believe is just a more practical approach.  Our CEO, while technically adept, is not a technologist, and our session will focus on the business propositions and our focus on having a mission more important than just making money or selling a customer a bunch of “stuff.”

What would you tell an MSP Expo attendee if asked, “Why should I visit your booth?”

We will have a strong core group of experts at our booth.  We have over 80 years of security experience to draw upon with just our three most senior guys.  We’re here to talk business, talk security, and exchange ideas and make new industry friends.  If you’re into making the security community a better placeor want to learn more by picking the brain of an expert, stop by. 

Why are you coming to MSP Expo 2020?

We believe that doing security right is not just about business.  We feel that every business is a target, and it’s allour collective responsibility to make this cybersecurity community better.  We’re here to show what we can do, and to further our mission to make the community better!

Edited by Erik Linask

Group Editorial Director

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