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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States


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July 22, 2019 |

SMB TechFest Stresses Rewards and Risks of Specializing in Security

Managed security is a big opportunity that imposes big responsibilities, according to multiple speakers at the latest SMB TechFest conference.

Though their views differed in multiple respects, speakers at the latest quarterly SMB TechFest event in Anaheim, Calif., last week agreed wholeheartedly on this: The time to make security a specialty is now.

“There’s never been a better time to sell security,” said Karl Palachuk, owner of consultancy and MSP community operator Small Biz Thoughts, during a panel session at the show, which targets managed service providers and VARs serving small and midsize businesses.

Indeed, IDC expects businesses worldwide to spend $103.1 billion on security this year, and $133.8 billion in 2022. That makes it one of the hottest opportunities around at present, according to Dave Seibert, CIO of IT Innovators Inc., an MSP and solution provider in Irvine, Calif., and creator of the SMB TechFest series.

“Security is a model/discipline everyone needs to embrace to provide protection as our industry continues to grow,” he says. “I feel strongly on this need, and thus focused several sessions on this area.”

With businesses worldwide set to spend $21 billion this year specifically on managed security, according to IDC, Seibert dedicated a morning panel session at his Q3 event to best practices for transitioning from managed service provider (MSP) to managed security service provider (MSSP).†

“Everyone is going to have to develop an MSSP practice, if you’re not already doing it,” said panelist Joshua Liberman, president of Net Sciences Inc., an MSP and managed security provider in Albuquerque, N.M.

What it means to be an MSSP was a subject of discussion during the session, though. According to Palachuk, most channel pros who call themselves MSSPs will in fact be MSPs offering white-label security services through a third-party vendor with deep security know-how. True MSSPs maintain state-of-the-art security operations centers staffed with high-priced cybersecurity experts.

“There are people in here who will do that, but probably only one or two,” Palachuk said.

Palachuk advised genuine MSSPs and managed security outsourcers alike to steer clear of the MSSP label, which he believes will more likely confuse end users than attract them. Fellow panelist Erick Simpson, a business transformation and improvement consultant for IT providers (and co-host of ChannelPro’s 5 Minute Roundup video podcast series), disagreed.

“There is value to using these acronyms, especially in marketing,” he said, noting that businesses are searching the web for MSSPs in growing numbers these days. Showing up among the results can help channel pros set themselves apart from the growing ranks of their peers as well.

“You need to establish how you are different and distinct than everyone else,” Simpson said.

Multiple Techfest speakers noted that there is risk as well as reward to launching a security practice. “Nothing you do right will matter if you do security wrong,” Liberman stated.

With cybercriminals increasingly targeting MSPs and the end user passwords they possess, Seibert notes, getting security right begins with putting your own tools and processes in order.†

“There are several news stories during the last few months where MSPs were the successful target of hackers. This includes large and very large national MSPs where the result was the actual encryption of all their clients’ data,” he says. “We collectively need to secure our own MSP businesses.”

At Net Sciences, Liberman explained during a second TechFest session, that means being rigorous about in-house patch management and enforcing strict application, data, and physical access controls, among other measures. “Operational security has to be the way you think,” he says.

Calling attention to issues like that was a high priority for Seibert as he plotted out content for last week’s show. “I’d rather every one of us stay out of the news,” he told attendees.

The fourth and final SMB TechFest event of 2019, which takes place October 16 and 17, will focus on business growth strategies rather than security, according to Seibert, who builds each one of his events around a different theme to keep the content fresh for attendees.

“Our industry often grows faster than solution providers can adapt,” he says. “We need to stay ahead of our clients in our skills to continue as their trusted advisor and the authority to aid their business.”

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