WatchGuard’s Five-Step Plan To Turn MSPs Into Profitable Security Powerhouses

WatchGuard’s director of business development, Himanshu Verma, in a breakout session at XChange 2019 outlined five keys needed to build a profitable managed security service business that caters to the evolving needs of customers while also delivering recurring revenue.

Verma joined WatchGuard in 2016 with a primary focus on selling WatchGuard products and solutions to the managed security service provider market. He walked MSPs through the steps they needed to take to transform their business into a profitable security powerhouse.

“Managed security is a booming market,” Verma said. “By 2020, 40 percent of small to medium businesses and customers will be looking to managed service providers as their trusted advisers to select security solutions for them. … WatchGuard’s main goal is to take enterprise-grade security and package it into our Total Security Suite, which then allows partners to enable themselves with simplified management, intelligent protection and actionable visibility.”

Verma said starting a security practice begins with pricing. He encouraged flexible pricing, meaning partners need the ability to transact with WatchGuard the same way they do with customers. So, if a customer is on a fixed contract, the MSP should get a fixed contract from their security vendor as well, and the same logic applies if a customer is billed on a recurring revenue model, he said.

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Security automation, with robust artificial intelligence components that act to predict dangers to a customer’s network, are also key to stop evasive threats that can stay hidden in a system.

“As humans, we have a limit of processing information,” he said. “What machine learning, as a subset of artificial intelligence, allows you to do is to adopt a technology which can not only predict, but can also learn and become intelligent over time.”

Threat correlation, the next ingredient, means having security in place and communicating across all facets of IT infrastructure: networks, endpoints, wired and wireless networks, Verma said. This allows MSPs to see how threats are traversing across the infrastructure and find the breach more quickly, a critical element of any security program since the average time of breach detection is 208 days, and the response time is an additional 28, he said.

“If there was a breach that happened on New Year’s Eve, it would not be identified until the end of July,” Verma said.

Verma said the next key, what he calls “multi-tenancy,” is related to the growth of an MSP’s business, and finding a platform that will expand with it.

‘What you really need is elastic scalability,” he said. “What that means is that as you bring in more customers and as you bring in more security services in your portfolio, you should not be going back and investing in infrastructure and reinvesting in some of the processes and services. You need to have a platform that can offer elastic scalability.”

And no MSP can get around finding a security solution that has out-of-the-box integrations with the its PSA/RMM tools for tracking expiration dates, renewals, and contracts of security services with customers, Verma said.

“What is something that is usually overlooked is how you do your business operations and how you do the day-to-day service desk operations outside of the security solution itself,” Verma said. “And that is where integrations which are out of the box and differentiated with PSAs and RMM tools become important.”

Zac Paulson, CEO of True IT, a West Fargo, N.D. based MSP, said Verma hit home with all five of his points.

“It’s nice to see what other people are doing in terms of setting up their MSSP,” he said. “We personally have not set up an active MSSP practice. We’re looking for the ingredients, so I thought that was helpful. … I think they’re the five pieces that need to be in there. It’s critical to start with the last one, with being able to integrate with our PSA. It seems like our lives revolve around our PSA, and then flexible pricing is extremely important.”