Managed services are becoming an increasingly integral part of the business IT ecosystem. With technology advancing at a rapid pace, many companies find it cheaper and more effective to outsource some or all of their IT processes and functions to an expert provider, known as a managed service provider (MSP).
Unlike traditional on-demand IT outsourcing, MSPs proactively support a company’s IT needs. And with the IT demands of businesses becoming ever more complex, reliance on MSPs is likely to increase exponentially over the next few years.
What Is a Managed Service Provider?
An MSP manages a company’s IT infrastructure on a subscription-based model. MSPs offer continual support that can include the setup, installation, and configuration of a company’s IT assets.
Managed services can supplement a company’s internal IT department and provide services that may not be available in-house. And since the MSP is continuously supporting the company’s IT infrastructure and systems, rather than simply stepping in from time to time to put out a fire, these services can provide a level of peace of mind that other models just can’t match.
What’s the Difference Between Managed Services and the Break/Fix Model?
Unlike on-demand outsourced IT services, managed services play an ongoing and harmonious role in the running of an organization.
Due to the rapidly changing nature of the digital landscape, it’s no longer sustainable to fix problems after the damage is done. Yet the break/fix model is still a common way of dealing with IT-related problems. It’s like waiting to repair a minor leak until after the pipe has burst.
On-demand providers are usually brought in to perform a specific service (like fixing a broken server), and they bill the customer for the time and materials it takes to provide that service. MSPs, on the other hand, charge a recurring fee to provide an ongoing service. This service is defined in the service-level agreement (SLA), a contract drawn up between the MSP and the customer that defines both the type and standards of services the MSP will be expected to provide. This monthly recurring revenue (MRR) can provide a lucrative and reliable revenue stream.
What Services Can an MSP Provide?
MSPs provide systems management solutions, centrally managing a company’s IT assets. This encompasses everything from software support and maintenance to cloud computing and data storage. These solutions can be especially valuable for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that may not have robust internal IT departments, especially when it comes to hard-to-find skills.
Network Monitoring and Maintenance
From slow loading times to outages, inefficient and faulty systems can cost companies a fortune in lost productivity. MSPs reduce the likelihood of such delays by keeping an eye on the network for slow or failing elements. By using a remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool, the MSP will automatically be notified the moment an issue arises, allowing them to identify and fix the problem as quickly as possible. That means shorter downtime, so the customer’s tech—and the business needs it supports—can get up and running again in no time.
Software Support and Maintenance
MSPs provide software support and maintenance to ensure the smooth running of all business applications that a customer needs on a daily basis. This includes ensuring that the programs used to maintain the network are fully functional. Overall, the goal is to provide an uninterrupted experience so that work can carry on as normal.
Data Backup and Recovery
Data loss can be catastrophic, so companies need to have a system in place to back it up and recover it, should the worst happen. MSPs can handle the backup process, protecting companies against both accidental deletion and file corruption, or more malicious intent (like cyberattacks). They can also support a company’s overall disaster recovery plan, ensuring the business can always recover its data in the event of an emergency.
MSPs can also help their clients optimally store their data. While hard data storage was once standard, new forms of remote data storage are growing in popularity, including cloud computing. MSPs can enable seamless data migration if the client decides to switch storage options.
Cloud computing encompasses more than just remote data storage options. Various IT applications and resources can be accessed via online cloud service platforms, with providers charging a pay-as-you-go fee for access. Whether the client relies on a public, private, or hybrid cloud platform, MSPs can help them navigate the cloud successfully, streamlining their workflows, storing data successfully, and more.
Challenges Facing MSPs
While there are numerous benefits to the managed services model, including the recurring revenue and the ability to build long-lasting relationships with clients, this model isn’t without its challenges.
Shifts in Sales and Marketing
Until recently, many MSPs have grown organically through referrals and word of mouth. But increasingly, companies are seeing the value of the ‘master MSP’ model, which offers valuable infrastructure to other MSPs in areas where their own expertise may be lacking. As a result, we see a trend toward inorganic growth.
In this market, MSPs can stand out from the crowd by investing their efforts in product management. Prioritizing the needs of the customer is a simple way to create value around your services. This goes beyond the basic standards outlined in the service level agreement—it’s about showing you go above and beyond.
Keeping Existing Customers
With new differentiators emerging, MSPs have to adjust their approach to keep customers happy.
One way they can set themselves apart is by having business conversations very early on in the relationship. By gaining a clear understanding of the outcomes the client wants to achieve and working with them to come to an agreement surrounding expectations, MSPs can establish themselves as a partner rather than simply a provider. This will allow you to adjust your approach to match their needs—like driving for profit rather than acting as a cost center.
Best-in-class MSPs also rarely find themselves arguing with customers over whether something is covered. That’s because they’re fully aligned on what the MSP is responsible for. Whatever the SLA covers, it’s the MSP’s job to ensure their client understands. This requires regular conversations to confirm everyone is on the same page and satisfied. Documenting these conversations also allows MSPs to streamline any disagreements by showing what has been discussed and agreed upon. The goal is to become a trusted advisor that they turn to for guidance.
A next-level approach to proactivity is also a plus. This includes setting up alerts to rapidly identify issues and putting new measures in place to ensure mistakes don’t repeat themselves.
Transitioning toward a more risk-based approach, bolstered by a security-first mindset, will go a long way, opening doors for both more recurring and non-recurring revenue streams as clients seek out your consultation. The best MSPs are experts at assessing their customers’ environment and developing a tailored plan that covers governance, compliance, and ongoing risk management. What’s more, they adjust their approach regularly to reflect the ever-changing security needs of their clients—offering more opportunities to showcase their value and up their revenue stream.
The Impact of Cloud Computing
While MSP revenue is rising, profit margins are actually shrinking. Part of the problem is the fact that MSPs are expanding their portfolio of services, yet still relying on their former pricing structures. But many MSPs are making the problem worse by choosing the wrong cloud service vendor to partner with, which can significantly impact an MSPs already-shrinking profit margins.
Some cloud service vendors are simply not priced to support an MSP. And with the pace at which cloud technology is evolving, a process that was cutting-edge when an MSP implemented it could become inefficient within a period of weeks. It’s vital that MSPs be open to change if a vendor becomes unsustainable, lest risk their own services becoming unsustainable as a result.
You should also be ready to address any cloud-related questions and concerns that clients raise. Cloud technology is still relatively new, and it can be confusing, so overcoming any uncertainties will play a key role in an MSP’s ability to act as a valuable advisor to its clients.
How MSPs Use Software
Just as they bring value to their customers by streamlining workflows and protecting networks, MSPs need internal frameworks that increase efficiency.
Professional services automation (PSA) tools allow MSPs to streamline and automate repetitive administrative tasks. This saves time and cuts costs, all while enabling greater scalability.
MSPs can also utilize remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools. These automate the patching process and allow you to reduce time spent on resolving tickets, essentially doing more with less. Not only does this enable a more proactive approach, but it puts time back into the support team’s day to focus on other things.
Needless to say, MSPs should be easily accessible to their clients via technology. Remote desktop support makes that possible. With remote control over a client’s systems, MSPs can rapidly solve issues from wherever they are—without interfering with the end user’s access. This reduces customer downtime, allowing repairs and IT support to happen quietly in the background.
What the Future Holds for MSPs
The role of MSPs is changing. Keeping an eye on these emerging trends can help you anticipate shifting client expectations—and stay ahead of the curve.
Arguably the largest area of opportunity for MSPs is cybersecurity—and that service is only going to grow more valuable. Even as awareness increases and regulations tighten around data privacy laws, the number and complexity of cyberattacks continue to rise. Between 2017 and 2018, the annual cost of combating cybercrime rose by 12%—from $11.7 million to a record high of $13 million—so establishing yourself as a cybersecurity expert now will put you in good stead for the future.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is also going to have a major impact on MSPs. Keeping up with the sheer volume of devices being used on a day-to-day basis requires a dynamic approach to systems management. This includes being proactive about establishing best practices and security guidelines around new technology, such as the use of voice assistants.
Business intelligence offerings are also likely to grow in demand. With the use of IT in business at an all-time high, the amount of data being generated is enormous. But data is only numbers without someone to effectively consolidate and analyze it to extract actionable insights. Providing easy access to reports and KPIs that clearly demonstrate areas for improvement will allow MSPs to not only stay relevant in this data-driven market but become leaders in their field.
https://www.netcal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/140526-Simple-Steps-to-Improving-Your-Service-Delivery.png3001001Conal Mullanhttps://www.netcal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/netcal_logo2.gifConal Mullan2019-05-30 08:00:532019-05-30 08:00:54Managed Services 101: Where MSPs Are Now, and Where They’re Going
It’s a familiar story in tech: new technologies and shifting preferences raise new security challenges. One of the most pressing challenges today involves monitoring and securing all of the applications and data currently undergoing a mass migration to public and private cloud platforms.
Malicious actors are motivated to compromise and control cloud-hosted resources because they can gain access to significant computing power through this attack vector. These resources can then be exploited for a number of criminal money-making schemes, including cryptomining, DDoS extortion, ransomware and phishing campaigns, spam relay, and for issuing botnet command-and-control instructions. For these reasons—and because so much critical and sensitive data is migrating to cloud platforms—it’s essential that talented and well-resourced security teams focus their efforts on cloud security.
The cybersecurity risks associated with cloud infrastructure generally mirror the risks that have been facing businesses online for years: malware, phishing, etc. A common misconception is that compromised cloud services have a less severe impact than more traditional, on-premise compromises. That misunderstanding leads some administrators and operations teams to cut corners when it comes to the security of their cloud infrastructure. In other cases, there is a naïve belief that cloud hosting providers will provide the necessary security for their cloud-hosted services.
Although many of the leading cloud service providers are beginning to build more comprehensive and advanced security offerings into their platforms (often as extra-cost options), cloud-hosted services still require the same level of risk management, ongoing monitoring, upgrades, backups, and maintenance as traditional infrastructure. For example, in a cloud environment, egress filtering is often neglected. But, when egress filtering is invested in, it can foil a number of attacks on its own, particularly when combined with a proven web classification and reputation service. The same is true of management access controls, two-factor authentication, patch management, backups, and SOC monitoring. Web application firewalls, backed by commercial-grade IP reputation services, are another often overlooked layer of protection for cloud services.
Many midsize and large enterprises are starting to look to the cloud for new wide-area network (WAN) options. Again, here lies a great opportunity to enhance the security of your WAN, whilst also achieving the scalability, flexibility, and cost-saving outcomes that are often the primary goals of such projects. When selecting these types of solutions, it’s important to look at the integrated security options offered by vendors.
Haste makes waste
Another danger of the cloud is the ease and speed of deployment. This can lead to rapidly prototyped solutions being brought into service without adequate oversight from security teams. It can also lead to complacency, as the knowledge that a compromised host can be replaced in seconds may lead some to invest less in upfront protection. But it’s critical that all infrastructure components are properly protected and maintained because attacks are now so highly automated that significant damage can be done in a very short period of time. This applies both to the target of the attack itself and in the form of collateral damage, as the compromised servers are used to stage further attacks.
Finally, the utilitarian value of the cloud is also what leads to its higher risk exposure, since users are focused on a particular outcome (e.g. storage) and processing of large volumes of data at high speeds. Their solutions-based focus may not accommodate a comprehensive end-to-end security strategy well. The dynamic pressures of business must be supported by newer and more dynamic approaches to security that ensure the speed of deployment for applications can be matched by automated SecOps deployments and engagements.
Time for action
If you haven’t recently had a review of how you are securing your resources in the cloud, perhaps now is a good time. Consider what’s allowed in and out of all your infrastructure and how you retake control. Ensure that the solutions you are considering have integrated, actionable threat intelligence for another layer of defense in this dynamic threat environment.
This article was provided by our service partner : webroot.com
https://www.netcal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/blog-800x400-cloud-target-1.jpg400800Conal Mullanhttps://www.netcal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/netcal_logo2.gifConal Mullan2019-05-16 07:05:572019-05-16 07:05:58Cloud Services in the Crosshairs of Cybercrime
It is no secret anymore, you need a backup for Microsoft Office 365! While Microsoft is responsible for the infrastructure and its availability, you are responsible for the data as it is your data. And to fully protect it, you need a backup. It is the individual company’s responsibility to be in control of their data and meet the needs of compliance and legal requirements. In addition to having an extra copy of your data in case of accidental deletion, here are five more reasons WHY you need a backup.
With that quick overview out of the way, let’s dive straight into the new features.
Increased backup speeds from minutes to seconds
With the release of Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 v2, Veeam added support for protecting SharePoint and OneDrive for Business data. Now with v3, we are improving the backup speed of SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business incremental backups by integrating with the native Change API for Microsoft Office 365. By doing so, this speeds up backup times up to 30 times which is a huge game changer! The feedback we have seen so far is amazing and we are convinced you will see the difference as well.
Improved security with multi-factor authentication support
Multi-factor authentication is an extra layer of security with multiple verification methods for an Office 365 user account. As multi-factor authentication is the baseline security policy for Azure Active Directory and Office 365, Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 v3 adds support for it. This capability allows Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 v3 to connect to Office 365 securely by leveraging a custom application in Azure Active Directory along with MFA-enabled service account with its app password to create secure backups.
From a restore point of view, this will also allow you to perform secure restores to Office 365.
Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 v3 will still support basic authentication, however, using multi-factor authentication is advised.
By adding Office 365 data protection reports, Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 will allow you to identify unprotected Office 365 user mailboxes as well as manage license and storage usage. Three reports are available via the GUI (as well as PowerShell and RESTful API).
License Overview report gives insight in your license usage. It shows detailed information on licenses used for each protected user within the organization. As a Service Provider, you will be able to identify the top five tenants by license usage and bring the license consumption under control.
Storage Consumption report shows how much storage is consumed by the repositories of the selected organization. It will give insight on the top-consuming repositories and assist you with daily change rate and growth of your Office 365 backup data per repository.
Mailbox Protection report shows information on all protected and unprotected mailboxes helping you maintain visibility of all your business-critical Office 365 mailboxes. As a Service Provider, you will especially benefit from the flexibility of generating this report either for all tenant organizations in the scope or a selected tenant organization only.
Simplified management for larger environments
Microsoft’s Extensible Storage Engine has a file size limit of 64 TB per year. The workaround for this, for larger environments, was to create multiple repositories. Starting with v3, this limitation and the manual workaround is eliminated! Veeam’s storage repositories are intelligent enough to know when you are about to hit a file size limit, and automatically scale out the repository, eliminating this file size limit issue. The extra databases will be easy to identify by their numerical order, should you need it:
Flexible retention options
Before v3, the only available retention policy was based on items age, meaning Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 backed up and stored the Office 365 data (Exchange, OneDrive and SharePoint items) which was created or modified within the defined retention period.
Item-level retention works similar to how classic document archive works:
First run: We collect ALL items that are younger (attribute used is the change date) than the chosen retention (importantly, this could mean that not ALL items are taken).
Following runs: We collect ALL items that have been created or modified (again, attribute used is the change date) since the previous run.
Retention processing: Happens at the chosen time interval and removes all items where the change date became older than the chosen retention.
This retention type is particularly useful when you want to make sure you don’t store content for longer than the required retention time, which can be important for legal reasons.
Starting with Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 v3, you can also leverage a “snapshot-based” retention type option. Within the repository settings, v3 offers two options to choose from: Item-level retention (existing retention approach) and Snapshot-based retention (new).
Snapshot-based retention works similar to image-level backups that many Veeam customers are so used to:
First run: We collect ALL items no matter what the change date is. Thus, the first backup is an exact copy (snapshot) of an Exchange mailbox / OneDrive account / SharePoint site state as it looks at that point in time.
Following runs: We collect ALL new items that have been created or modified (attribute used here is the change date) since the previous run. Which means that the backup represents again an exact copy (snapshot) of the mailbox/site/folder state as it looks at that point in time.
Retention processing: During clean-up, we will remove all items belonging to snapshots of mailbox/site/folder that are older than the retention period.
Retention is a global setting per repository. Also note that once you set your retention option, you will not be able to change it.
As Microsoft released new major versions for both Exchange and SharePoint, we have added support for Exchange and SharePoint 2019. We have made a change to the interface and now support internet proxies. This was already possible in previous versions by leveraging a change to the XML configuration, however, starting from Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 v3, it is now an option within the GUI. As an extra, you can even configure an internet proxy per any of your Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 remote proxies. All of these new options are also available via PowerShell and the RESTful API for all the automation lovers out there.
On the point of license capabilities, we have added two new options as well:
Revoking an unneeded license is now available via PowerShell
Service Providers can gather license and repository information per tenant via PowerShell and the RESTful API and create custom reports
To keep a clean view on the Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 console, Service Providers can now give organizations a custom name.
Based upon feature requests, starting with Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 v3, it is possible to exclude or include specific OneDrive for Business folders per job. This feature is available via PowerShell or RESTful API. Go to the What’s New page for a full list of all the new capabilities in Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365.
This article was supplied by our service partner : veeam.com
In a recent report by the firm 451 Research, 62 percent of SMBs reported having a security awareness training program in place for their employees, with half being “homegrown” training courses. The report also found that most complained their programs were difficult to implement, track, and manage.
Like those weights in the garage you’ve been meaning to lift or the foreign language textbook you’ve been meaning to study, even our most well-intentioned efforts flounder if we’re not willing to put to use the tools that can help us achieve our goals.
So it goes with cybersecurity training. If it’s cumbersome to deploy and manage, or isn’t able to clearly display its benefits, it will be cast aside like so many barbells and Spanish-language dictionaries. But unfortunately, until now, centralized management and streamlined workflows across client sites have eluded the security awareness training industry.
The Importance of Effective Security Awareness Training
With the average cost of a breach at around $3.62 million, low-overhead and effective solutions should be in high demand. But while 76 percent of MSPs reported using some type of security awareness tool, many still rely on in-house solutions that are siloed from the rest of their cybersecurity monitoring and reporting.
“MSPs should consider security awareness training from vendors with cybersecurity focus and expertise, and who have deep visibility and insights into the changing threat landscape,” says 451 Research Senior Analyst Aaron Sherrill.
“Ideally, training should be integrated into the overall security services delivery platform to provide a unified and cohesive approach for greater efficacy.”
Simple Security Training is Effective Security Training
Security awareness training that integrates with other cybersecurity solutions—like DNS and endpoint protection—is a good first step in making sure the material isn’t brushed aside like other implements of our best intentions.
Global management of security awareness training—the ability to initiate, monitor, and report on the effectiveness of these programs from a single pane of glass across all of your customers —is the next.
When MSPs can save time by say, rolling out a simulated phishing campaign or training course to one, many or allclient’s sites across the globe with only a few clicks, they both save time and money in management overhead, and are more likely to offer it as a service to their clients. Everyone wins.
With a console that delivers intuitive monitoring of click-through rates for phishing campaigns or completion rates for courses like compliance training, across all client sites, management is simplified. And easily exportable phishing and campaign reports help drive home a client’s progress.
“Automation and orchestration are the force multipliers MSPs need to keep up with today’s threats and provide the best service possible to their clients,” says Webroot SVP of Product Strategy and Technology Alliances Chad Bacher.”
So as a growing number of MSPs begin to offer security awareness training as a part of their bundled services, and more small and medium-sized businesses are convinced of its necessity, choosing a product that’s easy to implement and manage becomes key.
Otherwise, the tool that could save a business from a breach becomes just another cob-webbed weight bench waiting for its day.
This article was provided by our service partner : webroot.com
https://www.netcal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/WSATRelease-BlogImage-v2.png400800Conal Mullanhttps://www.netcal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/netcal_logo2.gifConal Mullan2019-05-14 09:38:062019-05-14 09:38:06Why Simplified Security Awareness Training Matters for MSPs and SMBs
What you don’t know can, and will, hurt you. Cybersecurity is now at the forefront of business IT needs. If you ignore it, it won’t go away, and even worse, your customers will look elsewhere to get the services they need if you’re not providing them. It’s time to face the music. I recently sat down to chat with Chris Loehr, Executive Vice President of Solis Security, who specializes in cybersecurity incident response.
Chris has experience conducting forensic work on cyberattacks. He works with MSPs day in and day out and sees first-hand the mistakes commonly made all the time. Here are the tips he shared with us on how to wise up about cybersecurity:
Know Your Power
Your tools, specifically your remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool, are extremely powerful. While it can be used for the purpose it was intended, allowing you to work on multiple machines at the same time, it can also be used maliciously to attack several companies at once. This makes MSPs an ideal target for attackers to gain access to an entire database in a relatively short amount of time vs. attacking companies individually. And unfortunately, in some cases, businesses never recover. You need to ensure that your RMM is secure.
Don’t Blindly Trust Your Providers
You should hold yourself responsible and perform due diligence on your key vendors/service providers. Your customers trust you. The vendors you work with are an extension of you and the services you provide. Ensuring that your vendors are doing the right things makes it easier for you to also do right by your customers. You need to educate your customers on what threats could impact them, what you do or do not cover, and provide the appropriate solutions. In doing so, you can be the trusted service provider they believe you are. And in the long run, this level of earned trust translates directly to customer retention.
Invest the Time to Truly Know Your Customers
When disaster strikes should not be the time that you’re learning about your customers and their operations. You need to know ahead of time what the critical applications/files are that need to be backed up. They might not be the obvious applications. Too often after disaster strikes, you find out you didn’t back up something essential to the customers’ business because you didn’t know about it or its importance. A business impact assessment (BIA) should be performed annually for each monthly recurring revenue (MRR) customer.
Give Your Best Customers Some Love
When disaster strikes, the best customers usually will be the most upset and most willing to pursue legal action. Even though everything appears to be going great, you don’t know what may be happening behind the scenes. Having crucial conversations with decision makers is key to your ongoing success. Ensure these conversations include topics around cybersecurity to help protect them, as well as yourself.
Don’t Be Cybersecurity Insurance Ignorant
Cybersecurity coverage is not the same as an auto insurance or health insurance policy. Filing a claim does not make your premiums go up. Be especially careful when deciding what coverages to waive. To get lower premiums, companies sometimes waive cyberextortion coverage. However, this type of coverage pays for a ransom, should you be in a situation to require one. Even though you might have enough money in the bank to pay it, keep in mind that you are still responsible for operational expenses as well (like payroll).
Doing a risk assessment is helpful to understand where you and your customers stand and in the future could also become a tool for the insurance industry to help underwrite policies.
Realize That Your Contracts Aren’t a Magic Shield
This is the biggest weakness of many MSPs. Anyone can sue you regardless of your contract. You need to know when certain scenarios will negate your liability limitations. Often, MSPs rely on only one attorney to assist in creating their contracts. It’s always best to have a second option. We highly advise getting a litigation attorney to look at your contracts. Also, take into consideration different state laws if you operate in more than one state and how that impacts your contracts.
Prepare for a Disaster
As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” Not planning for a disaster could quite literally put you out of business or set you back a couple of years. Your backup solution is the ultimate piece that will save your business. It has to be more than rock solid. Test it and test it again. Backing up data is the first step but being able to restore from the back up is the true measure of success. The worst-case scenario is to have to tell your customer that you lost all the files that were previously backed up. A one size fits all backup solution might not work for each customer.
https://www.netcal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/0508-CybersecurityIgnorance-Blog-CW-1000x300.jpg3001000Conal Mullanhttps://www.netcal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/netcal_logo2.gifConal Mullan2019-05-09 06:39:442019-05-21 04:15:297 Critical, and Often Overlooked, Ways to Improve Your Cybersecurity