Ask an MSP Expert

Q: We’re looking to expand our MSP in 2018. What marketplace changes should my MSP be ready to capitalize on in the coming year to make that happen?

2017 has certainly been an eventful year for the IT channel, filled with many ups and downs — WannaCry, the Equifax breach, NotPetya, and preparing for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It’s safe to say that security and compliance has been and will continue to be a priority for managed service providers in the coming year.

In addition to these two components, we spoke to Brian Babineau, the general manager of Barracuda MSP, to see what other areas MSPs should focus on in 2018.


2018 predictions that can help your MSP grow

The IT industry is constantly evolving—from updated technology advances to advanced threats that seek out vulnerabilities—and it’s your job as an IT provider to be on the forefront of technological change. In 2018, here are the three areas we think will create MSP opportunities throughout the year:

Public cloud services will continue to grow. In 2018, MSPs should become more comfortable with supporting cloud services and migrating workloads to the public cloud. Public cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and AWS will continue to grow, so IT service providers should be looking to see what other cloud solutions and services they can support beyond Office 365.

shared security modelConsider the benefits the public cloud has for your MSP—less infrastructure maintenance, more migration opportunities, and additional security components. When it comes to the public cloud, the vendor (i.e. Microsoft, Amazon, and Google) is responsible for the security of the cloud itself, not what’s in it. That means that your SMB customers that are moving to the cloud need to secure the data and applications they’re running in the cloud. Educate your customers on the Shared Responsibility Model and what your MSP can do to help.

Increased need for security expertise and a robust security portfolio. In the coming year, SMBs will be looking for IT service providers with more security experience, who can improve their organization’s security posture. Five years ago, being an IT provider meant keeping business infrastructure up and running, but now it’s more than that. Being an MSP is about keeping business-critical data safe from today’s sophisticated threats and recovering data when a disaster from a threat or other source occurs.

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More SMBs are evaluating cybersecurity insurance, which creates additional motivation for them to prove they have up-to-date security solutions and infrastructure. Another thing motivating SMBs to improve security in the coming year is the need to adhere to strict compliance standards such as GDPR, which will go into effect in late May, creating opportunities globally for IT service providers. If you haven’t already, 2018 should be the year that you step up your security game.

Endpoint security needs to evolve beyond antivirus protection. Endpoint security is essential because SMBs are using multiple devices to connect to the cloud, and oftentimes on the company network.  Nowadays, compliance makes reexamining endpoint solution security even more critical.

Unfortunately, antivirus is not enough anymore, and IT service providers need to find a way to secure all devices, such as laptops, in case they are lost or stolen. In the context of data protection, chances are data is more likely to be stolen than destroyed in a natural disaster. Moving forward, IT service providers need to think of data in this context and understand how they can better protect their SMBs’ data.

As the end of December end draws near, IT service providers should look at what they can do to proactively help their SMB customers from becoming the next data loss victim. As more workloads are moved to the cloud, it adds an extra layer of complexity making security more difficult by adding additional elements into the MSP purview. Moving into 2018, MSPs can capitalize or ignore the security and compliance opportunities in the channel. While 2017 may have been the year of cyber threats, we still have time to help IT providers make 2018 the year of prevention.


Photo:  Tortoon / Shutterstock.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a content and product marketer with several years of experience in the IT channel. She has created and developed content that helps managed service providers grow their business, and has written many articles featured in SmarterMSP’s The MSP’s Bookshelf and Ask an MSP Expert series.

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