There are two inexorable facts about cybersecurity and email that managed service providers (MSPs) can’t ignore. The first is that for all intents and purposes, email has become a cloud service. There may be some organizations still running a Microsoft Exchange service, but most either have, or soon will have, shifted to a Microsoft Office 365 environment for accessing both email and productivity applications as a cloud service.

The impact of that shift on the channel has been nothing less than profound. Most IT service providers don’t make anywhere near as much on a Microsoft 365 project than they did supporting Microsoft Exchange running in an on-premises environment. Rather than folding their proverbial tents, savvy MSPs are leveraging their relationships with customer to deliver a wide range of complementary Microsoft Office 365 services, most notably in the realm of cybersecurity. No matter how email gets delivered, it remains the number one threat vector through which malware infiltrates a user’s network. Almost every day — as the result of a phishing attack — an end user downloads an attachment or clicks on a link resulting in yet another attempt to inject malware on to their system.

The second inexorable fact is that cybersecurity is also now shifting towards becoming a cloud service. Many managed service providers (MSPs) have a long history of constructing all their own services as much out of necessity as out of pride. If you’re going to go through the trouble of hiring first-class engineering talent to manage IT on behalf of customers, it only makes sense to leverage that investment to build the best network and security operations centers possible.

The MSP opportunity

As IT in general, and cybersecurity in particular, continue to evolve, many of those centers are evolving into hubs through which centralized services residing in the cloud are aggregated. Instead of remotely managing applications residing in a local data center, MSPs are now aggregating a wide variety of cloud services on behalf of their customers. Nowhere has that shift been more apparent than in the delivery of email. The opportunity that creates for MSPs is that somebody needs to make sure all those services are secure. The challenge is that as cybersecurity evolves, the amount of data and traffic that needs to be analyzed required massive amounts of horsepower that can only be cost-effectively accessed in the cloud. On top of that, the next generation of cybersecurity will be based on machine and deep learning algorithms that require access to massive amounts of data to be effective. Most MSPs are not going to be able to aggregate enough data on their own to make use of those algorithms in a meaningful way. This will result in an inevitable shift for SMBs to rely on MSPs to deliver email security services in the cloud.

We’ll be discussing these and other email security trends as they pertain to MSPs during an upcoming webinar. Be sure to check it out, because truly, MSPs need to be paying attention to this topic if they want to continue to thrive in the years ahead. Going forward, MSPs clearly need to find a way to stay relevant to their customers in the age of the cloud. Arguably, the best place to get started is by securing the very email services that started the shift to the cloud in the first place.

Photo:  jijomathaidesigners / Shutterstock.

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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