IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

ConnectWise Strives to Quench MSP Thirst for Security Knowledge at First IT Nation Secure Event

The new addition to the vendor’s lineup of IT Nation conferences seeks to help partners tackle an enormous challenge with equally enormous revenue potential. By Rich Freeman

In a further sign, if any were needed, that cybersecurity is both the greatest threat to managed service providers today and an enormous potential revenue source for them, ConnectWise has kicked off a new IT Nation partner event dedicated solely to security education and knowledge sharing.

Called IT Nation Secure and set to take place today and tomorrow, the conference seeks to quench a deep thirst for security insights and best practices among ConnectWise partners, according to Jay Ryerse, the vendor’s vice president of cybersecurity initiatives.

“The partner community has a desperate desire for more information,” he said in a conversation with ChannelPro.

Ryerse likens IT Nation Secure to a two-day crash course in cybersecurity modeled after the annual RSA and Black Hat conferences. “Most MSPs have never been to either of those events and may not have even heard of them,” he says, adding that unlike those gatherings, the ConnectWise show is tailored specifically to the needs of MSPs.

Though he declined to provide exact registration numbers, Ryerse said ConnectWise was targeting 5,000 attendees. “We should hit that without too much concern,” he added. 

SMB spending on cybersecurity hardware, software, and services will grow 10% year over year globally through 2024 to $80 billion, according to August data from Analysys Mason. Fully 91% of those SMBs, meanwhile, would consider switching to a new IT service provider if offered a top-notch cybersecurity solution, according to a September study commissioned by ConnectWise and conducted by Vanson Bourne.

Numbers like that are responsible for ConnectWise’s June introduction of a new MSP-focused cybersecurity framework, a set of accompanying cybersecurity “playbooks” and training resources, and a cybersecurity-focused partner community also called IT Nation Secure.

All of that is backed by a four-stage “maturity model” for partners to measure themselves against. Organizations at phase one are brand new to security, those at phase two are providing essential security services to their clients, those at phase three have added more advanced services, and those at phase four have essentially reached full-blown managed security service provider status. Helping partners ascend to the next phase up in the model is the core mission of both the IT Nation Secure event and community.

Though hard data isn’t available, Ryerse estimates that 80% of MSPs are either in phase two or three at present. The speed with which ConnectWise partners have engaged with IT Nation Secure, he continues, suggests just how badly many of them wish to up their security game.

“We are ahead of every metric that we envisioned we’d be at by this point,” Ryerse says. “We’ve had more downloads of the framework and the playbooks than I think anybody imagined we’d hit.”

Enrollment in ConnectWise’s IT Nation Certify training classes has been ahead of pace as well, he adds, noting that more than 5,000 MSPs have completed a course to date. The two classes available now cover security fundamentals for sales professionals and business owners on the one hand and engineers on the other. Recently announced advanced-level courses get started in January, and master-level classes will arrive eventually as well.

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