Guest Column | August 30, 2021

5 Critical Services For The Modern MSP Portfolio

By Kyle Yencer, MicroAge

B2Brand post 5-13 photo

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we live and work, disrupting every industry — including MSPs. As the global workforce went remote overnight, companies became increasingly reliant on our services for day-to-day management operations, workforce collaboration, monitoring, and more. The shift marked an inflection point across MSPs to reevaluate our approach, technologies, and advancements with evolving client needs.

MSPs must modernize to remain agile, relevant, and profitable through disruption. What does it mean to be a modern MSP in 2021? Here are the five mandates.

A modern MSP:

  1. Stays alert to market trends, anticipating client needs in advance. COVID-19 sparked unprecedented acceleration in cloud services, AI, automation, and other edge technologies. Did MSPs see growth opportunities in these areas? Yes. Were we prepared for the surge? Clients of modern MSPs were and likely experienced a more seamless transition to a remote workforce with service providers already fluent in the tech stack necessary to empower a secure and high-performing connected workforce. Modern MSPs are always looking ahead to ensure future success.
  2. Doesn’t sleep on security innovations. The 2021 MSP Insights Global MSP Benchmark Report found 91% of MSPs reported security as their key growth area. On the heels of the high-profile attacks on SolarWinds, the Colonial Pipeline, and JBS, this trend is anything but surprising. At MicroAge, we see how frequently ransomware attacks impact our clients. One of our account executives recently worked to get a manufacturer back online and in business after a phishing email corrupted their system. They were seeing the signals of the cyberattack for months, but in the aftermath, their small IT team was blindsided.

    In the wake of the attack, several measures were taken to protect all users with MFA for their M365 account and VPN access, a best practice most cybersecurity insurance providers now require for policy renewal. Microsoft recently stated that MFA reduces vulnerability by 99.9%. MFA is a must for any organization with a boost in security posture and ease in implementation.

In the event of a ransomware attack, immutable backups promote a solid recovery path. Eighty percent of IT teams experience M365 data loss due to a lack of third-party protection. While the platform includes a wide array of best-in-class solutions, backup isn’t one of them. Modern MSPs understand that optimizing your environment requires an extra layer of backup and security to protect the business from disruption. Even when security measures fail, having a current backup of every email, application, file, and other data accessible means having any organization back online in minutes.

  1. Automates device management. With the CDC revisiting social-distancing and masking guidelines, and more employees embracing remote work, a hybrid landscape is here to stay. With company tools and devices spanning a variety of locations, each with a unique set of vulnerabilities, technologies like Microsoft Intune are mission critical. If you aren’t talking about Intune or thinking about implementing it successfully, you aren’t a modern MSP.
  2. Prioritizes monitoring. A modern MSP’s tools are hyper-focused on alerting clients to issues from outside their network and internal red flags and vulnerabilities. These systems should automatically gauge performance via status updates. With a robust monitoring system in place, a modern MSP should have complete network visibility and the ability to respond to changes and prevent outages.
  3. Is open to change. The status quo doesn’t cut it anymore. Modern MSPs are devising creative solution packages to fit every client’s needs, not a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead of throwing everything onto the cloud as-is, a modern MSP looks at optimizing migration to promote collaboration and automation.

    A modern MSP has moved past the 100% on-premises approach, asking, “is active directory still serving us?” Modern MSPs continue advancing technologies and security to keep pace with constant industry changes and shifts in compliance requirements.

To thrive in a disruptive, digital environment, MSPs must modernize—actively adopting new technologies, streamlining solutions, and remaining open to change. How are you modernizing your MSP?

KyleAbout The Author

Kyle Yencer is the vice president of services & connected workforce at MicroAge, an end-to-end technology services and solutions provider.