I had the opportunity to participate in my first Automation Nation event in Orlando, Florida this week and came away impressed. I’ve been to numerous IT Nation events in the past so I wasn’t really surprised at the caliber of the event staff. (ConnectWise and LabTech are the same company, and thus their events are related).
In addition to three days of conversations with hundreds of Managed Service Provider (MSP) partner attendees, I also had the chance to host a breakout session for interested partners that gave them the opportunity to learn more about Trend Micro, and specifically about how a cloud-based security solution could help them improve productivity in their own business.
The premise of the presentation was simple. Cloud-based security solutions require a lot less work for the Managed Service Provider since the vendor does all the heavy lifting, which means they can focus their efforts on activities that generate revenue and frees them up to support more customers without having to add more staff or resources.
For those who weren’t able to attend the event, I’ve provided a recap below of what I shared with the partners in attendance.
Productivity gains generally fall in to three categories:
- Initial Deployment
The major difference between an on-premise security solution and a cloud-based security solution is where the management server/console is located. In the case of an on-premise installation, the Managed Service Provider is responsible for downloading and installing the software. This process can easily take 20-60 minutes, which doesn’t sound like much until you multiply this by the number of customers you have (and remember that this is generally considered non-billable time in a fixed-fee business model). Additionally, this doesn’t take into account the initial server build and configuration.
With a cloud-based solution, this process is all handled by the vendor and doesn’t require any time or effort on the part of the Managed Service Provider. That’s an immediate productivity gain.
- Day-to-Day Management
There are numerous activities performed by your technicians on a daily basis that can be performed a lot more efficiently when a cloud-based security solution is deployed. For instance:
- The ability to manage remote devices (ie. Devices that leave the corporate network such as laptops). With a cloud-based security solution, devices are always “online” and manageable, which means technicians can instantly apply policies/configurations and review log files when necessary.
- The ability to more quickly remediate any issues that come up with devices since the management console can be accessed from any device no matter where the technician is. With an on-premise security solution, the technician may only be able to access the management console from their desk via a VPN or other remote control tool.
- The ability to always keep devices up-to-date, which helps reduce infections and related clean-up activities. With an on-premise security solution, devices that leave the network may not get updated in a timely fashion and are more vulnerable to new threats every second that they are out of date. Cleaning up infected machines puts a huge drain on time and resources for an MSP in a fixed-fee business.
- Ongoing Maintenance
Similar to the burden of having to install an on-premise security solution in the first place, there is an endless cycle of patching/updating/upgrading the solution over time. Every time a new hotfix, patch, service pack, or upgrade is made available by the vendor, the MSP has to spend non-billable time and resources applying those updates, multiplied by the number of customers they have. The risk of not staying up to date is increases in infections and support cases, further increasing the burden on the MSP and reducing productivity and profits.
We also had some great questions and follow-up discussion on this topic, and I’m looking forward to helping our current and future MSP partners to be more productive and profitable with cloud-based security.
What’s been your experience with cloud-based security? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or contact me on Twitter, where I’m @ryandelany.