There’s unparalleled and unprecedented demand for security in today’s world. This demand for robust security services is driving MSPs (managed service providers) to transition to MSSPs (managed security service providers). MSPs and MSSPs might sound similar, but the services offered by the two are distinctly different.
Why is security so important today? It’s because data, the foremost currency in the world, is at constant risk of being looted by various malicious attackers, all of whom are consistently improving their tools and techniques. Acronis researchers found that the cost of a data breach in 2023 could rise to a jaw-dropping $5 million. Meanwhile, phishing attacks made up 76% of all attacks between July and October of 2022, a spike of 130%.
That’s the terrifying speed at which attackers operate. Companies that don’t prioritize security are walking targets for data breaches, and these data breaches can often prove to be fatal.
This article will explore how MSPs can transition into MSSPs to meet the increasing demand for security services. We’ll cover the steps that MSPs need to take to effectively provide security services to their clients and stay competitive.
MSPs and MSSPs: Key differences
An MSP provides a company with IT infrastructure management services. An MSSP provides a company with cybersecurity-centered management services. The subtlety is only in the language. The actual differences are vast.
MSPs and MSSPs are both third-party providers with whom businesses form contractual working relationships. However, they operate from different consoles. MSPs deliver their services from what’s known as network operation centers (NOCs), whereas MSSPs work out of security operations centers (SOCs).
An MSP’s emphasis will always be on operational efficiency. The goal of an MSP is to ensure that a business’s IT operations are running smoothly and productively. An MSSP’s goal is to make sure that companies are safe from cyber risks, malicious threats, and regulatory compliance entanglements.
Commons tasks that an MSP might provide are technical assistance, contract management, user access management, payroll applications, and integration of security tools. An MSSP provides anti-malware functionality or capability, vulnerability assessment and patch management, options for private virtual networks, breach detection (EDR), monitoring and reporting, user authentication, endpoint management, and many more.
Top reasons to transition from an MSP to an MSSP
There are numerous reasons why an MSP would consider transitioning into an MSSP. First off, it’s simply necessary to meet the cybersecurity demands of businesses worldwide. MSPs should view this as needed progress, an opportunity — not a radical change or disruption.
Becoming an MSSP will give today’s MSPs a chance to redefine themselves and tap into a larger customer base. The potential profit margins of providing security solutions are also higher than many of the services MSPs currently provide. There’s a lot of fluff these days about benefits and advantages, but boosting the bottom line is hard to argue with.
Unlike companies that start out as MSSPs, MSPs that transition to being an MSSP can leverage their existing expertise with a new array of cybersecurity skill sets. By doing so, they provide added value to their existing or targeted customers with a unique range of services.
MSP to MSSP: A step-by-step guide
Step 1: Formulate a viable plan
All good moves begin with a good plan. And to be viable, a plan needs to incorporate a comprehensive strategy around which everything else revolves. The best MSP-to-MSSP transition plans should feature the continuous improvement of security posture to offer the most robust services.
It’s important to first determine the company’s readiness level to become an MSSP. This would involve a thorough measuring of all components of the current organization. As mentioned above, an MSP also typically functions out of an NOC, so one of the first steps should involve moving to an SOC either in-house or as-a-service.
Step 2: Identify and buy the right set of tools
The tools that an MSSP wields are ultimately what give it an edge and widen its competitive advantage. So identifying and procuring these solutions is of tremendous importance. The best ones in the industry will ensure that an MSSP can protect its customers at a lower cost, which should result in an increase in profitability.
Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud is the gold standard among such tools. With its advanced pack options, it offers service providers an unparalleled tool to fortify their customers. Most importantly, it is built with MSPs in mind, meaning that integration and collaboration with existing MSP systems like RMM and PSA are seamless. It is also ideal for smaller MSPs and does not require many highly skilled specialists to operate.
Step 3: Hire the right staff
There is strong competition for highly qualified staff and technicians due to the global shortage of IT professionals. Unfortunately, they’re a must, and training existing IT personnel won’t cut it. The work in an MSSP is often too specialized for multitasking, so hiring experts with specific backgrounds in cybersecurity is essential.
It’s also important to train new hires to be able to use robust AI-powered automation tools. This is because it’s humanly impossible to ensure proper security around the clock. An SOC’s full potential can only be realized when it features a perfectly assembled team of IT and cybersecurity professionals.
Step 4: Build an SOC from scratch
A critical factor in the transition is building an SOC from the ground up. This is because control of an SOC’s design will ensure that the intricate needs of a particular MSSP are met. The common challenge of building and managing an SOC from scratch is understaffing. This can be addressed by integrating automation and other AI tools into an SOC’s architecture wherever possible.
Building an SOC isn’t cheap. It’s expensive and requires meticulous planning. Most MSPs, excluding huge ones, do not have their own SOCs. Instead, they use SOC as a service or sell (resell) MDR services. It is much cheaper to buy SOC services than to build one.
Step 5: Reconfigure protocols and procedures
Protocols and procedures are the glue that holds an organization together. But these are completely different for an MSP than for an MSSP. So any MSP undergoing a transition must update their protocols and procedures, as well as commit to the reconfigurations their new architecture, objectives, and clients require.
It would be uncommon to find isolated components in a top MSSP. A well-oiled and efficient MSSP is an amalgamation of a good team, a solid architecture, and an updated set of protocols and procedures that have no bottlenecks or roadblocks.
Step 6: Update and optimize business models
One of the most important steps in a move from MSP to MSSP is this last one. When an organization undergoes this degree of profound change, it affects every aspect of its business model.
Once a commitment toward becoming an MSSP has been made, an MSP needs to update and optimize its entire business model. This new model must reflect the new focus, objectives, and logic of the company.
There’s no such thing as tiptoeing when it comes to becoming an MSSP. A pivot toward the world of cybersecurity is likely long-term, so a company’s business model needs to represent the company’s new MSSP avatar.
There are enough reasons and incentives for an MSP to decide to become an MSSP. What an MSP needs is conviction and commitment to the journey. The advantages of becoming an MSSP are numerous, but the quality of the transition is critical. Careful, responsible, and smart planning is required to start reaping the benefits of being an MSSP.
There’s no need to shelve an organization’s MSP capabilities. Instead, once they procure cybersecurity talent and build a robust SOC, they can use their previous skills to augment their new security offerings.
An MSP needs to come up with a solid plan, arm themselves with tools like Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud, hire specialized cybersecurity professionals, partner with an established SOC-as-a-service provider, optimize protocols and processes, and update their business model to successfully complete the shift from MSP to MSSP.
The world needs cybersecurity. Now is the perfect time for MSSPs to dominate.
This guest blog is courtesy of Acronis. Read more Acronis guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of ChannelE2E’s sponsorship program.