Q: I’m the President of a small MSP in Wisconsin and I’m proud of our customer-service and problem-solving skills. However, my last tech goes home for the night at 11 p.m. and if a customer’s servers crash after that point, the customer is pretty much out of luck until our first tech arrives in the office the next morning. This lack of coverage seems to be causing dissatisfaction among our customers. Should I be considering 24/7 service? I’m concerned about the cost and staffing.
Whether you should offer 24/7 monitoring will be different for every MSP. If your customers consist of doctor’s offices that all shut down at 5 p.m. and don’t return until the next morning, then it’s probably not as crucial. If you are a small MSP with limited staff and only a handful of customers that run through the night, there are on-call tech services that you might want to consider contracting for night-time service. You could also choose to keep the work in-house and having a tech on call, as you’ll find your expanded night-time business will likely cover the costs.
According to Rob Moyer, president of ComTec Solutions, 24/7/365 is an essential part of the service package that they offer to their customers. “We feel a 24/7 service is important because our client base focuses primarily on manufacturing. Many of them operate at a 24/7 schedule, and it is critical for them to be up and running at all hours.”
ComTec monitors systems at all hours of the day, and they often detect and fix problems before anyone even knows about it. “We are getting alerts in the system and resolving the issue before a customer knows there is an issue,” describes Moyer.
On-call night owls
Moyer started ComTec as a small website design firm in 1995, but it quickly grew to include managed services. After establishing extensive experience in military and defense industries that handle sensitive information, ComTec recently found themselves awarded with a contract from NASA for the Epicor ERP 10 implementation at the Goddard Space Flight Center. To support these types of clients, ComTec has staff available and on-call 24 hours a day to go in and troubleshoot remotely or on-site if need be.
“We don’t subcontract the overnight work. Rather, service calls go to a call center right down the street from us, and they have a list of on-call people,” explains Moyer.
The global economy (and hackers) ignore time zones
There’s been a lot of chatter in cybersecurity circles that certain times of day are more susceptible to attacks than others. From his point of view, Moyer disagrees, “I don’t know that you see that much more at night and if things are configured properly it shouldn’t be a big issue.”
The more significant issue is keeping servers running and information flowing so that people can do their jobs and factories can run at all hours in an increasingly global economy.
“If people in manufacturing don’t have access to their CAD drawings or can’t download information when they need it, that is a problem. Especially as companies rely more and more on technology,” details Moyer.
Training doesn’t stop at sunset
One issue that needs to be addressed, is providing consistent staff training. A first-shift worker receives all the company memos, training, and cajoling from management. With the corporate layer often gone and staff reduced at night, people still need to receive the same level of training and cyber-education, which Moyer and ComTec strive to do.
“We go all out on training to have customers’ internal staff trained. If they need it, we will go in to train their second and third shifts,” Moyer says. ComTec educates users in variety of ways, including emails that are designed to trick employees into opening suspicious links or attachments.
“If an employee receives a suspect email and clicks on it, we report that back to their management. Then, they are required to go through some additional training, “ explains Moyer. He also adds that phishing remains a prime concern, but ransomware attacks are still on their radar.
Moyer says that customers in the aerospace and defense industries are specifically being targeted by hackers and that ComTec makes sure they are properly locked down and monitored. Thanks to the existence of so many back-up options, losing data isn’t as big of a concern as it used to be. However, MSPs need to worry about preventing “data exfiltration.”
That is something that ComTec is watching for, 24/7. Perhaps your MSP should be considering doing the same.
Photo: vectorfusionart / Shutterstock
Hardly fair to compare a NASA contract holder to a “small msp” in Wisconsin. I’d ask, if the clients are worried about uptime and crashes, build a system that addresses that. We have not had a server crash in over 5 years since we put out better equipment and actually do our MSP services.