Jason Howells, VP MSP international sales at Barracuda MSP, on the challenges, and opportunities, facing MSPs post-Covid
As part of CRN's MSP Transform event taking place on 23 June, we catch up with Baracuda MSP about how MSPs can capture the UK's post-Covid recovery.
What is the biggest challenge that your partners (VARs, MSPs, etc) will face this year, and how have you helped them combat these?
With the rapid shift to remote work dramatically increasing reliance on applications like OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams over the past year, protecting your data is a more crucial requirement than ever before—and more challenging. That's why organisations are looking for comprehensive, easy-to-use backup solutions that are fast to get up and running.
Even after over a year, there are still challenges to remote connectivity and security, and some end users may still be treating this like a temporary situation. MSPs need to make sure they are communicating with their end users at these crucial times to prevent stagnation. MSPs must take charge of informing end users to revisit computing best practices, as well as encouraging the use of secure technology infrastructure. They must also continue to invest in tools which can help their end users better manage their work as we potentially shift to a world where we're working between office-based and home-based work.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity for your partners over the next 12-18 months?
Partners need to look for opportunities to improve and to address any gaps (both technological and human) that may impact the safekeeping of their data no matter where it is or how it is used. Security-centric MSPs will have a different lens on both their business opportunities and their accountability to deliver IT services. As an example, the entirety of 2020 necessitated remote work environments, where the need to protect users, not just devices, has come into greater focus. As businesses begin to return to the office following the pandemic, MSPs will need to be even more vigilant in their efforts to ensure their clients' remote and hybrid work environments are fully protected.
Every industry is going to operate differently as a result of the pandemic. Those businesses that embrace the opportunity and transform to meet the new realities will succeed. At the centre of this are cloud-based applications and remote monitoring and management (RMM). Unfortunately, where there is opportunity, there are also security threats. Cyber risk created by a shift to cloud computing is a manageable obligation MSPs should welcome in an effort to aid their clients in business transformation.
What impact will customers returning to offices and adopting hybrid working models have on your business?
As organisations begin, or in some cases, continue to adapt to hybrid work scenarios to support their growing remote workforces, the introduction of having access to tools and solutions to ease the burden will have a significant impact on MSPs and their end users. Services like a stable and secure RMM are necessary next steps in showing your commitment to supporting your customers in their security-centric journey. An MSP who utilises these tools effectively for their clients will be better suited to help them to better mitigate the security risks associated with the work-from-anywhere approach and thus allowing the MSP to create new business opportunities for them to deliver more flexible, secure access to valuable data, and streamline data protection operations.
What one technology trend will shape the IT channel the most over the next 12-18 months?
Technology which is able to allow you to move security closer to the edge (people, places, and things) will become much more important over the next few months. Technologies which allow hybrid working to remain fundamentally secure. RMM solutions which are security-centric, deployed through the cloud and are able to assess and address security risks for all customers will be a priority.
Having technology is easily integrated within other solutions will be beneficial. This way, MSPs and their end users will be able to easily fit these scalable security-relations technologies into their day to day management of their services.
What is your advice to partners to grow their business with you this year?
With remote working and cloud-delivered services becoming a de facto part of every business, one of the most important things to remember is that being able to manage it all will be your priority. MSPs which are able to adapt, grow and learn throughout this period will be the MSPs which see the most success going forward.
It's clear to me that security has and will continue to play a vital role in establishing a service provider as a trusted partner. By helping clients keep their data safe and their business running smoothly, MSPs establish themselves further. Essentially, if MSPs aren't offering security services to their customers, they're missing out on an integral opportunity in the current landscape.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it painfully clear that the level of description a business now needs to withstand can reach previously unimaginable scale. Going forward, MSPs will need to remember that they will forever be altered by this. In fact, as we look to restart and rebuild, one of the key tools in any MSPs arsenal will continue to be resilience.
Jason Howells is VP MSP international sales at Barracuda MSP