Article | April 13, 2020

Understanding How SMBs Rely On MSSPs For Success

By Jon Bove, Fortinet, Inc.

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As the world goes digital, your customers are working toward increased agility and speed by switching to the cloud. Large enterprises are building and managing private cloud resources internally as well as developing complex multi-cloud environments. Small and midsize businesses (SMBs), on the other hand, are busy forming critical partnerships with managed service providers as they generally lack the resources to go it alone. Regardless of their approach, both sides are driven by the prospect of lower IT costs, higher computing power, increased scalability, and greater productivity. They’re also becoming aware that as promising as the benefits of cloud computing may be, they also come with a new set of risks – including failed projects, data loss and cyberattacks.

For many SMBs, building a digitally secure cloud network is outside their comfort zone. That’s because most of the functions and processes associated with safe cloud adoption are beyond their limited set of IT resources. This leaves them stuck at a crossroads: they’re desperate to modernize, but their hands are tied due to the lack of resources needed to secure the networks they build.

SMBs And MSPs/MSSPs: Critical Partnerships That Generate Deep Relationships

MSSPs and MSPs always have offered SMBs the critical security solutions they need to secure their digital environments. Many have built a strong business model around filling this gap. But that’s not all that today’s SMBs require. According to a recent Fortinet report, a majority of SMBs are also looking to partners for additional IT services. Given the role that digitization plays in SMB success, these SMBs are seeking more robust partnerships with providers who also offer business insight and customized offerings along with the usual set of devices, support and expertise.

Because this is a growing need being expressed by SMBs, partners have the opportunity to serve them with an even wider range of tools and resources. Providing these additional capabilities also will lay the foundation for an even deeper relationship with customers.

3 Ways Partners Can Support Their Customers’ Digital Transformation Goals

The aforementioned report also identifies the top three services SMBs are looking for from their partners. These go beyond traditional security offerings, and include:

  1. Implementation consulting
  2. Ongoing outsourcing
  3. Public cloud security

By customizing offerings with specialized contracts and expertise that support those three areas, partners can fill a critical gap in their cybersecurity strategy. Here is a closer look at each these value segments that partners should consider offering to customers.

1. Implementation Consulting

According to that same study, more than one-third of SMBs (35 percent) rely on outside consultation services to assist with the planning and implementation of secure cloud-based services. As a services partner, providing a range of services to help customers transition to a secure, cloud-based network affords them the chance to compete and succeed in the digital arena. Many SMBs simply do not know where to start and need guidance from a services partner across a broad range of areas, including network design and integration, configuration, firewall migration, platform migration, wireless configuration, and more. Any or all of these services can be provided to ensure SMB customers enjoy a smooth, secure transition to the cloud.

2. Ongoing Outsourcing

Almost as many SMBs use MSSPs and MSPs for their ongoing outsourcing needs (30 percent) as they do for implementation consulting. By offering data-driven advice, consultation, and direct outsourcing services for their cloud implementation and ongoing management challenges, partners can significantly strengthen long-term relationship with customers. By addressing a range of needs that give customers a critical differentiator, partners become an integral part of their team, thereby build a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.

3. Assistance With Public Cloud Security

The Fortinet study mentioned earlier found that another 24 percent of SMBs seek help with public cloud security from their key services partners. SMBs have generally been slower to move to public cloud environments than enterprise organizations, and much of this can be attributed to the fact that 93 percent of these businesses are “moderately to extremely concerned” about cloud security, which is up from the previous year. In spite of this, 75 percent have at least some cloud deployments in place, and 39 percent of them have already moved at least half of their infrastructures to the cloud. This indicates an eagerness to make this transition. By providing public cloud security consultation and services, partners can help resolve their concerns and accelerate their broader adoption of all the cloud has to offer. This is also an opportunity to form stronger relationships that will continue to pay off as those customers transition to the more mature stages of public cloud adoption over the next few years.

Final Thoughts

SMBs are looking for more than just traditional security solutions from their MSSP and MSP partners. Those who are able to offer a wider range of tools and resources can help bridge the gaps those SMB customers are struggling with as they work to modernize their environments. Digital transformation may be the new differentiator but remaining secure through the reliable support of an MSP or MSSP is the most critical way for them to achieve success – and this means partners have a real opportunity to grow their business as well.

About The Author

Jon Bove is the vice president of channel sales at Fortinet, Inc. (FTNT). In this capacity, Bove and his team are responsible for strategizing, promoting, and driving the channel sales strategy for partners in the United States as we seek to help them build successful – and profitable – security practices. A 17-year veteran of the technology industry, Bove has held progressively responsible sales, sales leadership and channel leadership positions. During his time at Fortinet, he has been responsible for establishing Fortinet's National partner program and aligning Fortinet's regional partner strategy to allow partners to develop Fortinet security practices with the tools and programs to successfully grow their business.