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The COVID-19 pandemic is clearly driving a wave of economic disruption from which no managed services provider (MSP) will be immune. However, as organizations move to implement business continuity plans, many of them are turning to MSPs. In fact, there are 10 specific areas where MSPs have unique expertise that most organizations need, including:

Managed endpoints

With almost the entire workforce working from home, most organizations don’t have the skills and tools required to manage a wide variety of endpoints that are now being pressed into service. Some of those endpoints might be owned by the organization. However, most of those endpoints will be devices will be owned by the end user. Organizations will need to push a variety of agent software on to those devices to both manage them and ensure compliance with any number of regulations.

Service desk augmentation

Beyond the fact that most end users are not especially adept at working from home, many of the devices and peripherals they are using are likely to be brand new. In fact, there’s now a shortage of everything from PCs to cameras. Not surprisingly, the number of calls being made to IT service desks in some organizations has skyrocketed.

Vertical industries that deliver digital education and entertainment services are struggling. At the same time, providers of everything from groceries to the trucking companies that deliver those groceries to medical facilities are overwhelmed.

Remote access tools

With so many people now working from home it’s apparent how dependent organizations still are on legacy desktop applications. Remote access tools that make it possible for employees to access applications that were never meant to run on anything other than a local area network (LAN) are in high demand.

Collaboration tools

Most people have some familiarity by now with online conferencing tools. However, using these platforms to manage and run multiple meetings a day that involve more than a handful of people is a substantial challenge for most organizations. Most business people are not only going to need advice concerning which platforms can scale to meet their needs, but also what are the best practices for using them all day long.

Wireless bandwidth

The network bandwidth most individuals have at home is shared. With everyone trying to access that bandwidth at the same time, throughput quickly becomes an issue. Wireless access cards that provide better connections than what the local cable company provides will soon be a requirement.

Cloud services

Migration to the cloud has been evolutionary at best for the past decade. Nearly three quarters of applications still run on-premises. Once the initial financial shock is absorbed, the number of organizations looking to accelerate their migrations to the cloud will increase. Chances are high that more organizations will be looking to rip and replace those applications.

Managed security services

Cybercriminals are already doing everything they can to exploit the current crisis. As cyberattacks increase in both volume and sophistication, organizations will need to augment their already limited cybersecurity capabilities. Many more organizations will opt to outsource cybersecurity altogether. Most organizations are now only a hack away from a major breach, simply because one credential was compromised while someone used a system from home to access a corporate application.

Zero-trust networks

The first thing most organizations did in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was to increase the network bandwidth they allocated to their virtual private networks (VPNs). Many organizations are now discovering they need a simpler way to securely access applications using a modern networking service.

Open source software

During the last major economic downturn, IT organizations turned to open source software in droves. Rather than lay off IT staff, the goal was to reduce the total cost of IT by eliminating licensing fees. However, someone with expertise will still be needed to manage and update all that open source software.


Most IT staffs are going to be smaller than they were a few months ago. To make up for that shortage, most organizations are going to look to aggressively automate their IT processes. Of course, IT processes don’t automate themselves. Someone with expertise needs to turn all the infrastructure into proverbial code.

No one knows for certain how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last or how long it might take for the global economy to recover. Savvy MSPs should assume the latter is going to be a lot longer than the former and adjust their practices to seize opportunity wherever they can find it.

Photo: shinobi / Shutterstock

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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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