With more and more businesses expanding their applications catalogs and stretching their IT spending every quarter, the market for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) is as hot as it ever was. Amidst all the competition, managed service providers need to keep focused on making sure that they embrace the technologies and tools that can assist in better service delivery at lower costs. In this guide, we will cover some of the types of tools that every managed service provider needs to know and leverage to differentiate its services from the other players, and also to drive operational efficiencies.
Professional Service Automation
Service automation technology is a core component of a professional managed service provider’s service basket. Particularly in IT settings, professional service automation (PSA) assumes a greater value. These software help MSPs implement the required functionalities seamlessly.
Document and project management are the two most important aspects of PSA software. Apart from this, PSA software also brings in functionalities for event scheduling, reminders and notifications, and invoicing. Good PSA tools go a long way in helping MSPs automate many processes, which lends a tremendous productivity boost to the employees, and helps the service provider control project costs.
Managed service providers are responsible for the upkeep of several applications for their clients. After the shockwave of ransomware attacks that shook the world in May 2017, the importance of patching has been underscored like never before. Even so, application vendors are not coming up with patches much faster than previously. Also, clients have become a lot more particular about getting their apps upgraded on the same day as the patch is released.
Now, manual tracking of the patching status of dozens of apps is a very time-consuming, effort-intensive, and financially draining exercise for MSPs. This is where they can leverage patch management tools to take control. Helping with central patch deployment and management via intuitive dashboards, apart from setup of regular patch checks, these software save a lot of time and money for MSPs, and ensure that the applications they’re responsible for are never compromised. Automated policy management for servers and desktops is also often included in patch management solutions.
Remote Monitoring and Management
Traditional monitoring has been an important part of MSP operations for a long time now, and most market leaders in this space have already adopted remote monitoring and management tools to take control. Monitoring an enterprise’s IT infrastructure for anomalies and errors can be a herculean task, considering the expanse and complexity of such systems. This is where automation emerges as a solution, and remote monitoring automation and event-response software prove to be invaluable for this.
These software not only streamline and centralize monitoring of infrastructure, but can also include applications, databases, and virtual machines in their scope. These remote monitoring and management tools help MSPs to expand their client base by providing preconfigured monitoring and even response solutions to clients for their basic infrastructure monitoring requirements.
Remote Access Protocol
The remote monitoring and management automation we discussed above is pretty expansive in its scope. Often, MSPs have to take care of very precise troubleshooting relevant to well-defined business processes and restricted to very specific virtual machines, databases, and servers. This is where MSPs need a simplistic utility instead of using remote monitoring and management models. Thankfully, remote access protocols come in handy here. For example, Secure Shell (SSH) enables MSPs to access servers and desktops from remote systems. This creates the perfect blend of security and control for MSPs to solve troubleshooting issues for clients.
The Internet is a core aspect of nearly every kind of business, and that’s why cyber-security is a concern for every startup, SMB, and enterprise alike. The responsibility of ensuring absolute security of all its internal systems, as well as the interfaces it establishes with clients and vendors, rests with MSPs. This is where the need for highly sophisticated anti-malware software emerges. Signature-based anti-malware software are not reliable anymore; leaders in the cyber-security industry have come up with antivirus and anti-malware solutions that leverage the power of machine learning to make out suspicious commands, and take appropriate actions. As a managed services provider, you can’t afford to take any chances hence you should opt for the best-in-class anti-malware software.
We addressed ransomware and malware earlier, but those aren’t the only security measures essential to MSPs. Managed service providers need to take proper care of the entire IT infrastructure to deliver world-class services to their clients. In order to keep data secure, users protected, interfaces intact, and network sanitized, MSPs need a suite of firewall, VPN, and intrusion detection systems. This also encompasses the physical security of its data center and server rooms.
Threat landscapes are changing quicker than businesses anticipate, and that’s why a notoriously large number of cybercrime attempts succeed. A pioneering MSP can’t sit back on its laurels; it must always be vigilant. Make sure you ramp up your security suites.
Balancing Automation with Planning
The types of tools discussed above help bring in a great deal of automation, which obviously delivers significant cost advantages to MSPs. However, no MSP can simply depend on these tools and hope to deliver high-end services to clients. This is where the MSP leadership team needs to kick in and invest proper resources towards long-term planning, disaster recovery and business continuity planning, and service improvement in general.
Concluding Remarks: When it comes to tools for managed service providers are concerned, the market isn’t exactly lacking. Tools that help in day-to-day operations management, tools for advanced reporting, security tools, monitoring automation tools, and support desk ticket management tools – you name it, and there’s something for MSPs. However, for an MSP to truly differentiate its services from similar players in the market, it needs to focus on adding value with tools of the kind discussed in this guide.
Author: Rahul Sharma