SolarWinds MSP is pushing for more partners to work together in the security sector which calls for a high level of skills and investment.
Colin Knox, the founder of Passportal and now director of product strategy with SolarWinds after its acquisition still keeps in close touch with a lot of the MSPs that use the product and is still helping to educate them on security practices. He talked to IT Europa about the pressure to cut costs had meant a lack of security in some software, even as MSPs come under increasing attack.
“My guess would be probably 60% of the market's very aware; another good chunk of the market is on the verge of it. And then I think there's a bunch of people that are choosing to not do something about it right now, whether it's their size or even the operational maturity level of the organization.”
“I think that as an MSP, you can get very lost in the ‘busyness’ of what you do, as proactive as they all aim to be and strive to be. And you're forced into a reactive world where you're running and running and running. Unless they've taken the opportunity at ownership level to kind of step outside of the business and outside of the doing and be more focused on working on the business, I think it just comes down to a time constraint for them.”
This is an issue for the industry, he says. “It may be mis-prioritisation of some things. One example is based on their typical business model of doing flat rate IT services. It is a frequent choice - being convenient over security, buying a solution that ties other products and systems together and allows them to do things a lot faster as an MSP to be more profitable but many times at the concession of security, whether that be access control or auditing or data sharing etc.”.
“These persistent threats that are targeting MSP and the MSP centric-software vendors has started to tune them into focus on security a little bit more. But I think it's the onus is also on a lot of us to keep preaching and educating them all, to bring them the rest of the way, because in many cases, if something hasn't happened yet, it will.”
He says that the security pressure is rising; at the same time, the target is moving faster now. He also reports plans for continued investment in SolarWinds which has the MSP Institute and is focusing education tracks on security and awareness.
Not every MSP can be a security specialist. “So if they come up to our conference we make sure that we're filling tracks with advice and education on those things or introducing them to complementary solutions that will round out the rest of their security offerings. If they don't have the skills to have some of the higher-level conversations or talking security, they shouldn't necessarily be having the conversation if they can't back up that conversation with the service to deliver that, that meets a need.”
“If you have an inherent weakness, you can either try to solve for that or hire to solve for that or work in partnership with a master MSP tied to whatever solution it is and with a partnership. So if they don't have the ability to have a strong sales conversation or sales pitch, then hire somebody that can.”
And the same applies to more complex security needs: SolarWinds acquired Trusted Metrics, in September of last year, a security monitoring solution. “That is a product and technology, that SolarWinds has continued to invest behind and develop.”
But the scale and number of MSP out there who can leverage a solution like that is limited, he says. “On its own there are very few because again, you need the specialized skills, you need the investment, you need the time. So pairing that with partnership organizations where we can do threat monitor service provider offerings, where they can acquire the software and then leverage that in partnership and have others do the backend monitoring, and backend security assistance. So we're not just putting a tool out there and saying to the MSP, ‘good luck’. But pairing them up with master service providers that as SolarWinds we've vetted, worked with and decided to go to market with in partnership.”