IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Emerging Cloud Opportunities for MSPs and MSSPs

Channel pros can help their customers mitigate cloud migration risks and scale the technology as their businesses grow. By Jon Bove

As organizations adapt to the changing business landscape, cloud solutions have played an increasingly important role in ensuring business continuity. For managed service providers or managed security service providers (MSSPs), this presents an opportunity to extend service offerings and demonstrate value to customers.  

Channel pros can play an essential role in mitigating the risks that come with cloud implementation, while also helping to scale the technology that their customers employ as their businesses grow. Understanding the challenges customers face when transitioning to the cloud is critical as this will inform how you structure your cloud security offerings. 

Challenges Customer Face When Transitioning to the Cloud 

Moving to the cloud exposes customers to a variety of cyberthreats. And because no two cloud environments are structured the same way, securing them can be complicated. Some of the main challenges regarding customer cloud security include: 

Data Security 

While it is typically assumed that cloud providers are responsible for the security of the solutions they offer, customers are often left on their own to deal with the security of their data and environment. Without proper expertise, misconfiguring cloud security controls can increase a business’s potential attack surface and put critical data at risk. And as cloud solutions grow more complex, maintaining effective data security is almost impossible without the support of trained cybersecurity professionals or a DevOps team. 

Access Control

One way that most organizations enable secure access to company data is through the use of identity and access management solutions. These solutions are beneficial for organizations with remote strategies as they help employees access the systems they need to do their jobs. The challenge they pose, though, is appropriately configuring access controls in the cloud. 

First off, data needs to be accessible by employees regardless of the device they are using or their location, which can introduce compliance concerns as data regulations differ between states and countries. Additionally, implementing access controls over the cloud makes it difficult to track which employees have access to what, since data is distributed across multiple networks. This lack of visibility increases the likelihood of threat activity going undetected by organizations. 

Integration

A key challenge during the implementation phase is the integration of existing security solutions with cloud environments. This process can often be complex and, without the assistance of a DevOps team, can reduce overall visibility and create gaps in security.

The Partner Cloud Opportunity

Many organizations are turning to service providers to help manage their cloud initiatives. Below are three ways you can support the deployment and upkeep of customer cloud environments:

Hybrid Cloud Environments

Many customers’ cloud environments include a combination of on-site, private, and public cloud services that rely on orchestration between two or more platforms. By offering hybrid cloud services that build on and span these existing infrastructures, you can bolster customer cloud security without having to overhaul current systems. Doing so will generate value for customers as they will be able to achieve greater levels of business agility while mitigating the risk associated with decentralized cloud operations. 

Security as a Service 

The security-as-a-service model allows customers to shift the burden of cloud management and security to IT service providers, freeing up capital for business growth. By offering cloud solutions on a subscription basis, MSPs and MSSPs can more easily tailor security services to meet the specific needs of customers. Furthermore, offering a catalog of security-as-a-service cloud products ensures that the solutions you provide can be easily integrated, thereby enabling seamless cloud operations.

Secure Apps and Infrastructures

Rather than backhauling customer applications connected to the cloud, consider providing secure remote connectivity directly to cloud applications. This will not only reduce the load on the network but also improve the security of business-critical applications accessed by remote workers. 

This level of remote connectivity can be achieved by using VPNs to act as gateways for application traffic. VPNs provide flexibility for customers looking to expand their application security as they can be administered without reworking their network infrastructure. In order to avoid traffic bursts on business-critical applications, they can also leverage secure SD-WAN solutions to reserve tunnel capacity for certain types of application traffic. That way, customers can define preferred application traffic and ensure secure and available access.

Final Thoughts

As more organizations turn to the cloud to enable remote work, there is an opportunity for channel partners to provide value to customers by ensuring continuity as their business models shift. To take advantage of this, partners must have the expertise needed to evaluate customer needs based on their cloud environments, and be able to position their tools to enable secure usage across distributed networks. 

JON BOVE is vice president of channel sales at Fortinet (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, helping 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 established Fortinet's national partner program and aligned Fortinet's regional partner strategy to allow partners to develop Fortinet security practices with the tools and programs to successfully grow their business. 

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