Cloud Changes MSP Role From Tech Fixers to Trusted Advisers

Cloud Changes MSP Role From Tech Fixers to Trusted Advisers

By Greg Tavarez

The cloud is no longer a futuristic concept; it's the present reality for businesses of all sizes. This ongoing revolution, however, demands a shift in the role of MSPs. Once solely focused on technical maintenance, successful MSPs are now often tasked with guiding clients through the complexities of cloud adoption.

Clients need a partner who understands their unique needs and can strategize a seamless transition. For example, helping businesses with a hybrid cloud model requires MSPs to possess expertise in both realms to make certain of smooth operation and data security across diverse environments. This has to be achieved with MSPs already acting as guardians by proactively identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities to protect their clients' valuable data.

That’s a lot to have on one’s plate, right? But MSPs that take on this new role are positioned to thrive in a cloud-first era, and GFI Software is there to assist MSPs as they take on this role. GFI Software is a Platinum sponsor of MSP Expo 2024, taking place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and will be in booth #321.

We had a chance to speak with Eric Vaughan, CEO of GFI Software, who provided insight into how GFI Software has helped MSPs since last year’s MSP Expo, and what he is looking forward to with this year’s show. Vaughan is also the CEO of IgniteTech, a Diamond sponsor of Future of Work Expo and Generative AI Expo, also taking place February 13-15 in Fort Lauderdale. IgniteTech will be in booth #321.

Here is what Vaughan had to say:

Are there any recent innovations/announcements from your company you would like to highlight?

This year's big story is undoubtedly GFI AppManager. Since announcing it at last year's MSP Expo, it's become our fastest-growing product ever! MSPs resonate with its ability to streamline their work, delivering unified communications, security and network management. Our success validates our commitment to solutions built specifically for the MSP community. We continue to enhance our broader MSP suite, including GFI KerioConnect, GFI KerioControl and GFI LanGuard for MSPs. Additionally, we're committed to an AI-first culture, bringing the power of CoPilot features to all GFI products and empowering our partners with the latest technology.

Describe your company's role in the MSP ecosystem and how your company supports MSPs.

We see our role in the MSP space as much more than just a vendor. We want to be genuine partners. That means having the right tools in place, obviously – strong security solutions, ways to streamline communication, and easy-to-use network management are all vital. But for us, it also means giving our MSP partners a level of support and resources that truly helps them grow. Flexible billing, dedicated account managers who understand their business, training resources – that whole side is incredibly important because what makes our partners successful makes us successful.

What are the top 2-3 trends you are seeing in the MSP space and why are they important to MSPs?

There are a few trends I think every MSP should have on their radar right now. Obviously, AI is huge. Automating those tedious, repetitive tasks, using AI to analyze data for threats before they become disasters – these are game-changers, freeing up resources for high-level strategy and ultimately helping MSPs be more profitable.

Speaking of threats, proactive security is no longer a “nice to have.” It's simply how you survive. MSPs can't be firefighters anymore, waiting for that alarm to go off. We need tools that help us see those threats coming and head them off in advance. And we can't forget that the cloud isn't going anywhere.

The ongoing cloud revolution demands that MSPs become advisers for their clients, providing expertise in migrations, hybrid configurations and cloud security. This can be an amazing new service offering for MSPs.

How are these trends impacting your business?

These trends aren't just things we watch, they're driving what we do every day. Take proactive cybersecurity: We recognize that advanced threats aren't something MSPs can simply react to. That's why features like RADAR in GFI AppManager go beyond the traditional “detect and respond” model. RADAR leverages machine learning to actively identify network anomalies and offers immediate, actionable recommendations.

When it comes to AI and automation, we're living our own “AI-first” culture. Initiatives like our “AIMonday” show tangible action where everyone in the company gets hands-on with AI. These experiences, alongside AI skills development programs, directly translate into how we develop our products. Just look at features like CoPilot across our solution suite – bringing proactive insights and intelligent automation to benefit MSPs every day.

How do your services/products integrate into the MSP landscape, creating symbiotic relationships rather than a mere vendor-client dynamic?

We prioritize true partnerships with MSPs. Our MSP-focused program provides solutions specifically tailored for our partners’ success, along with resources, support, and ongoing training. This ensures not only that they have the right tools, but that we grow together. That's what makes the relationship less “vendor-client” and much more focused on mutual benefit.

What emerging technologies (e.g., IoT, 5G, AI, generative AI, etc.) should MSPs be considering and incorporating into their service offerings to help their clients stay ahead in their respective industries?

MSPs who harness AI will have a major competitive edge. That's precisely why we built GFI AppManager on a foundation of advanced proactive solutions. Take RADAR – it's machine learning constantly watching for subtle network security anomalies, stopping problems before they start. It revolutionizes threat response, letting an MSP take the vital role of protector for their clients.

This same thinking expands across everything in our solutions suite, exemplified by the CoPilot feature set. Whether it's intelligent, context-aware GFI KerioConnect communication analysis that improves response time and ticket handling, or GFI LanGuard's threat mitigation that actively adapts based on evolving attack vectors. These features embody our philosophy: take cutting-edge technology, make it easy to leverage on any scale and ensure those benefits can be strategically passed on to the businesses the MSP serves.

The technology landscape and business needs are constantly evolving. How does your company's strategy actively encourage MSPs to embrace change and turn it into a strategic advantage?

Our goal is to empower MSPs to not just react to change, but to leverage it. This starts with building solutions that anticipate technological shifts, like our investment in AI and proactive security tools.

Beyond that, our MSP partner program is centered on equipping MSPs with the knowledge and resources needed to guide their clients into the future. That's how change becomes a competitive edge.

What key challenges do MSPs commonly face and how are you helping solve them?

MSPs face this daily battle of increasing complexity – more tools, more clients, more to manage. Switching between screens and logins eats up a shocking amount of their day. That's exactly why we built GFI AppManager. Think of it as mission control for MSPs: a single dashboard where they finally see all their products and all those separate accounts. That alone brings huge sanity back to the workday.

Beyond that “sanity restored” benefit, it becomes more about proactive insight. Instead of reacting to client-impacting downtime, alerts are customized to flag problems before they escalate. Reporting takes all that data they have and translates it into something genuinely useful, from making data-driven cost management decisions to tailoring services as client-needs change. Plus, because it's designed to be scalable, it's something MSPs can build on – no reworking everything they do to adjust to new onboarding.

How do you see the MSP industry evolving in the next several years and how is your company preparing for these changes?

The MSP landscape is evolving at lightning speed. Of course, the themes we discussed earlier – proactive security, cloud expertise, AI optimization – all remain essential. But beyond that, we anticipate a growing emphasis on the MSP as a strategic advisor, not just a tech support provider. Clients will depend on MSPs to navigate more than just security or cloud adoption. They'll want partners who help them leverage emerging technologies for broader business transformation.

GFI is focusing on solutions that help MSPs consolidate their tech stacks, simplifying management while allowing them to easily incorporate innovative new technologies and services. It's about helping MSPs adapt so they can, in turn, be drivers of innovation for their end clients.

When you hear the phrase "Future of Work," what immediately springs to mind?

When I hear “Future of Work,” I immediately think of the transformative power of artificial intelligence. There's a lot of discussion about it, but I genuinely believe we're at the very beginning of understanding its true impact. AI will fundamentally change how we solve problems, gain insights, and approach entire industries. We're only just starting to unlock these possibilities, and the future is incredibly exciting.

What are the biggest keys for businesses to successfully navigate modern work environments?

Firstly, it's all about adaptability. Businesses get stuck if they're resistant to change. Encouraging employees to upskill, embracing new technologies – that's how you stay competitive. Secondly, workplace structures also need to evolve. Companies clinging to 'how things have always been done' tend to get left behind. This could mean rethinking everything from the physical office footprint to talent recruitment strategies. Finally, don't be afraid of AI. It's a game-changer – it can automate routine stuff, help you analyze data in ways you never could before, protect against threats... It's a true advantage for businesses who get on board.

How is your idea of Future of Work defining your roadmap and how is your company helping businesses navigate Future of Work?

Everything we do is shaped by our understanding of the Future of Work – technology empowering humans, the need for constant adaptation, and the changing workplace itself. This means building solutions that put AI to work in accessible ways, helping MSPs streamline a complex tech landscape, and providing the resources and knowledge they need to prepare themselves and their clients for whatever comes next.

How are AI and automation changing how businesses operate today?

At GFI and IgniteTech, we've embraced an AI-First mindset that goes beyond product development and customer-facing solutions. We have an ongoing initiative to identify and integrate AI into our internal processes across the entire organization. From marketing and sales to engineering and finance, every team is involved in exploring how AI can streamline, automate, and optimize their workflows. This commitment enables us to boost productivity across the board and cultivates a deep understanding of AI's potential within our own organization.

What are the most notable challenges/concerns businesses face as they seek to leverage AI and automation in their operations?

There are a few critical concerns that businesses need to keep in mind as they adopt AI and automation.

These technologies will bring fundamental changes to the way work gets done. Proactively managing this change through open communication, training, and focusing on collaboration between humans and AI helps reduce resistance and unlocks the best results.

There's also a natural worry about ceding too much control to algorithms. This is where a commitment to transparent and explainable AI designs, with human oversight as part of the core approach, becomes essential.

How are you helping them solve those challenges?

Our solutions are designed to be transparent and easy to use, allowing businesses to confidently incorporate them without massive overhauls. Features that automate those mundane, repetitive tasks let teams focus on strategic initiatives, while simultaneously freeing up their time. Additionally, with security being non-negotiable in the AI era, we take it seriously. Robust encryption and strict privacy practices help businesses protect their critical data.

How do you see AI and the Future of Work evolving/changing over the coming year and what impact will that change have?

Tools will integrate AI features directly, letting more people leverage its power without specialized skills.

I expect a focus on the collaborative potential of AI, where it assists humans with decision-making and uncovers insights rather than just automating tasks. And again, Companies encouraging employees to evolve their skill sets, emphasizing adaptability alongside new tech proficiency, will thrive. It's important to not lose sight of ethical AI usage, addressing issues of bias and responsibility so businesses build and maintain trust.

One particularly exciting trend to watch is the democratization of software development, driven by low code AI platforms. Soon, line-of-business employees, not just engineers, will design custom AI solutions for their specific needs. This transforms innovation, as those with in-depth process knowledge won't be hampered by needing extensive technical expertise.

What are you most looking forward to at the MSP Expo and the Generative AI Expo 2024?

Beyond the always-exciting technology on display, what I truly look forward to at events like ITEXPO is the chance to connect with other leaders shaping the evolution of AI. Collaborating and sharing insights is immensely valuable. It's those conversations that spark truly innovative thinking and accelerate progress for the whole industry.

What is your session and why is it a must-attend at GenAI Expo 2024?

I'm excited to be joining some incredible thought leaders for a panel discussion on “Generative AI and the Customer Experience” at GenAI Expo. Personalizing the customer journey is critical, but often falls short with current tools. GenAI offers a powerful way to shift that paradigm. This session will be about uncovering what truly individualized CX looks like through practical use cases, how to address concerns and build trust in these technologies, and getting everyone started on their GenAI journey. If you're serious about staying ahead in customer experience, don't miss this session.

Why are you participating at MSP Expo 2024 and what are you highlighting at your booth?

We always enjoy participating in industry-leading events. It was here last year that we debuted GFI AppManager, and we're excited to return to showcase the product's evolution. It's a chance to connect with MSPs, hear about their successes and pain points, and demonstrate how our platform has matured.

Additionally, we're spotlighting our cutting-edge AI-first initiatives, demonstrating our commitment to innovative AI solutions shaping the industry. At our booth, visitors can find live demos of GFI AppManager alongside our full MSP solution suite. Our team will be on hand to discuss how our technology, including powerful CoPilot features, can revolutionize the way MSPs work.

Please share a success story or two about how your strategies helped MSPs navigate the growth minefield, turning challenges into opportunities.

Growth for any MSP can feel complicated – more clients mean more devices, networks, and expectations. This is why finding tools that ease that strain is vital. That's the heart of why we built GFI AppManager, and its rapid adoption, with over a thousand MSPs onboard, underscores its success in simplifying that daily grind. Its centralized management capabilities eliminate a lot of the complexity inherent in growth, making scaling far less daunting.

What technological changes/evolution do you expect to see in the coming year and how will those changes impact your business?

The coming year marks a turning point in AI adoption. I think we're done with that phase where everyone dips a toe in the water... AI features will become baked into the everyday tools most businesses use. That completely changes the game – efficiency expectations, how people make decisions based on data – and it means adapting quickly or getting left behind. This shift requires an external and internal change in how we do business. We're laser-focused on ensuring our products integrate AI in impactful ways that solve immediate client needs.

Internally, at both GFI and IgniteTech, it's an all-hands-on-deck approach. Everyone is gaining practical understanding of AI through our "AIMonday" and other upskilling programs. This isn't just for our technical teams, but across the board. With everyone upskilling and understanding AI's potential, we unlock better problem-solving and ensure our solutions deliver true value for our partners and customers.

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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MSPToday Editor

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