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With Global MSP Day upon us, Smarter MSP has been reaching out to key players in the managed services industry to gain their perspective on what this international event has to offer.

We recently sat down with Brian Babineau, SVP and GM of Barracuda MSP, to ask him about his recent observations on the state of the channel. Brian shared his thoughts on what he has seen, what he thinks the landscape may look like in the near future, and how Global MSP Day can help MSPs be prepared for any upcoming changes and challenges.

Q&A with Brian Babineau

Q: From your perspective, what is the purpose of MSP Day and why is it important?

We created MSP Day to unite a community that offers and consumes IT services. We sought to bring subject matter experts – from both providers and customers – together to drive collaboration, communication, confirmation, and transparency around managed services. The market has grown so rapidly, and Global MSP Day provides an opportunity for constituents to pause and reflect on what is going well, what can be improved, and to share their experiences.

To foster this community, we have published relevant market research on MSP Day to drive conversation and education around insights yielded by the study. The findings that emerged from last year’s MSP Day highlighted a great deal of optimism for MSP businesses. In fact, 54 percent of members of the European MSP community surveyed said that managed services represented the greatest potential revenue. The confidence in the managed services market is increasing, as in 2018, managed services beat cloud computing and professional services by a margin of 4 to 3. In last year’s survey, it was a 4 to 1 margin.

As MSP Day expands globally, the purpose will remain the same; however, the outcomes will vary widely. It is with the highest hopes that this year’s day demonstrates gratitude to the MSP and small business IT communities for obvious reasons. Next year, we should optimistically predict that Global MSP Day will spotlight the use of IT to advance healthcare initiatives and reignite global economies.

Q: What are the most notable changes you’ve seen in the MSP industry in the recent past?

In late January, we held a Partner Advisory event in Dallas, where the discussions centered on adding security offerings, hiring security talent, and enabling even the smallest of businesses to use technology as a competitive weapon. Six weeks later, we reconvened the same group for a virtual check-in. We ended that discussion talking about the shortage of laptop inventory and whether MSPs had the time to evaluate government economic programs.

The most notable change has been the quick shift that MSPs had to make to support their customers this spring, as they transitioned to a predominantly remote workforce. The setups that worked for customers in January didn’t necessarily work for them in March, and this demanded an enormous effort on the part of many MSPs. My observation has been that MSPs prioritized access and education to help customers achieve that access first, and everything else became secondary. One MSP I spoke with ripped out his legacy firewalls because they weren’t designed to handle the traffic that they were about to see as a result of many customers switching to WFH mode. They have since redeployed a cloud-based firewall that can scale based on user demands.

In talking to our partners, once they had established access, it became clear that in enabling remote employees and students to work securely, users had become far more critical than devices. For example, people that had been using Windows workstations now logged into Google Chromebooks to start their day. As a result, all other technology decisions had (and should continue) to shift from a device-centric approach to one that is both user- and data-centric. When doing this, security of the person and their data cannot be undermined. Cloud computing is finally being recognized as the easiest way to securely share data.

Ultimately, MSPs must manage devices and secure users and data no matter where it is saved. This is not going to be a trend that fades away – all businesses now know what is possible and aren’t likely to mothball all their laptops and security they put in place over the last six weeks.

Q: If you could give an MSP advice for growth, what would it be?

First, I would say that now is the time to transform your business.  Focus on users and data, not devices. Now more than ever, you need to be able to protect customers wherever they are. Pricing per user has a higher probability of highlighting your value than pricing per device. Users create data, and data must be secured and protected.

Aside from pricing, think about offering security assessments that determine a user or a group of users’ current security posture. This gives you a baseline and enables you to have an educated discussion about how your security portfolio can help strengthen their security, and that it can be measured using undeniable data. For example, an average simulated phishing campaign through Barracuda MSP’s email security awareness program captures clicks on a bad link from 16 percent of end users. Users need to be reminded that they are the weakest link to understand the associated risk; and using assessments and benchmarking can do this for you, as well as demonstrate your value when you help them improve that performance over time.

Also, I would encourage them to l cloud everything – become an expert in cloud security, hire someone and train them on security-related help desk calls. Use the cloud so your clients reinvigorate their businesses to new heights.

Q: What do you see as the main opportunities for MSPs in the next 1-2 years?

I would say their IT expertise and ability to make remote workers productive and secure creates a significant opportunity. The threat landscape hasn’t materially changed over the recent months; the susceptibility of our systems and people have.

If I were predicting what your help desk calls will look like in two years, a majority will not center on a device-related issue. Your users will call because someone compromised their cloud-based file sharing account, or their mailbox was highjacked. Start getting ready for the user and data world.

Q: What do you see as best practices that MSPs can follow?

Invest in (your and your employee’s) education. If you are constantly avoiding learning about new technologies or optimizing ones you already deployed, you will fall behind.

In the first three weeks of March alone, Barracuda Sentinel detected 467,825 spear-phishing email attacks, and 9,116 of those detections were related to COVID-19. Criminals take no breaks and were chomping at the bit to take advantage of businesses. Between distracted employees, who had been uprooted to work remotely with varying degrees of readiness to do so, and leveraging fear by using coronavirus-related messaging, bad actors had a broad target.

Worse, many MSP’s employees didn’t know what spear-phishing was. As the problem got worse, they were still learning what it was in order to figure out how to stop it. This was a costly delay for many clients who were already going through their worst times as a business.

Q: Why should MSPs choose to participate in Global MSP Day?

As mentioned, Barracuda has security in its DNA. We at Barracuda have more than 16 years’ experience in security innovation. We have spent over 7 years running MSP-specific platforms, and 20 years researching and developing our RMM platform. We communicate with our partners regularly to gain insight into real world perspectives.

Global MSP Day was designed for you to do this with your peers outside of a trade show or webinar. Someone has gone through what you are going through right now. A successful Global MSP Day happens when MSPs learn how to deliver services in an efficient way that provides comprehensive protection to their customers, while generating profits for the MSP.

Brian, along with the rest of us at Smarter MSP, is looking forward to speaking with and learning from the many MSPs of the community on Global MSP Day. Be sure to register for the virtual event and take advantage of this great opportunity!

Photo: AppleZoomZoom / Shutterstock

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Lindsay Faria

Posted by Lindsay Faria

As Director of MSP Marketing, Americas, at Barracuda, Lindsay Faria is dedicated to empowering Barracuda MSP partners to grow their businesses by providing tools and information to make marketing and selling their data protection services as effective, fast and easy as possible.

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