CRN Exclusive: Continuum Unleashes Robust Managed Security Bundle To Help MSPs Keep Clients Safe

Continuum has rolled out a one-of-a-kind holistic managed security offering that will enable MSPs to protect and respond to emerging cyber threats facing their SMB clients.

The Boston-based IT service management vendor said its two new security offerings are intended to help MSPs customize their security toolkit based on the particular types of threats each customer faces and remediate security breaches by leveraging Continuum's around-the-clock security operations center (SOC), according to Fielder Hiss, vice president of product.

"MSPs who do not transition to become MSSPs or really broaden their security services are going to be stuck in a very small part of the market and a very commoditized part of the business," Hiss told CRN exclusively. "Whether it's two years or four years, MSPs that don't evolve to include managed security services as part of their business will not be in business. The risk is that simple."

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Core IT spending is going down across the industry as clients become more aware of compliance requirements, information breaches and ransomware and therefore invest more of their energy and resources into cybersecurity, Hiss said. As a result, Hiss said MSPs that aren't delivering security at a high level would be undifferentiated and stuck in a very price-sensitive part of the market.

"This will enable our partners to be first and leaders in a really important category," Michael George, Continuum's CEO, told CRN exclusively. "Defense and remediation are going to be essential IT service elements to any of these businesses today."

The vendor has been working on its managed security offering for more than a year, according to George. The effort was guided by a desire to simplify the components of cybersecurity into software and services that can be easily delivered by MSPs without forcing them to hire cybersecurity experts or build out their own SOCs, Hiss said.

"It's about simplifying the offering because SMB clients are not looking to buy the giant Chinese menu of security," Hiss said.

Continuum's products will likely be priced on a per-endpoint basis, Hiss said, with the SOC-centric Detect & Respond offering costing roughly twice as much as Continuum's Profile & Protect offering, which is focused on managing the security tools the MSP already has in place. The offerings will be rolled out to select partners in the fourth quarter, with general availability coming in the first quarter of 2018.

Many MSPs are already reselling security point products such as antivirus, firewalls or endpoint or DNS protection, but lack a management layer that enables the systems to talk with one another, Hiss said. In addition to delivering proactive management, Hiss said the Continuum offering provides threat vulnerability, threat assessment, and user training.

Continuum's Profile & Protect can be tailored to focus on anything from phishing and ransomware, to internal and external threats, to top exploits. Hiss expects most MSPs to start with this foundational offering, and said it's a good fit for virtually all of Continuum's customers.

The Detect & Respond offering distinguishes active threats from false positives by examining user behavior, system and computer activity, and network activity within a client's ecosystem, according to Hiss. When necessary, Continuum's security experts will manually examine and interpret high-risk items to ensure that only highly-critical threats are being presented to the MSP rather than just noise.

Hiss expects this offering will be of most interest to either more sophisticated end users or clients working in verticals with stringent security regulations such as HIPAA and PCI. Continuum was well-positioned to build out a SOC since it had already been operating a well-integrated Network Operations Center (NOC) for quite some time, George said.

"When we execute very well, MSPs will be able to grow cybersecurity businesses that are as large in revenue as their managed services businesses without having to invest in further hiring," Hiss said.

Continuum has built up its SOC in anticipation for the launch, Hiss said, as well as hiring additional security-focused resources in its product leadership, marketing and sales organizations. Hiss anticipates the security offerings will be an entry point for MSPs that haven't worked with Continuum before, which in turn could drive more interest in the vendor's legacy RMM and BDR products.

"These MSPs are woefully underequipped and underinformed around this [security] because it's new and more afield to them," George said. "To have something as ready-made for them as this [Continuum's offering] and to have capacity and scale is an extraordinary opportunity for them."

Xlingshot President James Harris said he looks forward to learning more about the new service and how the Englewood, Colo.-based company can leverage those capabilities through Continuum.

"We've become very concerned about the increased cyberthreats to small and midsized businesses, particularly ransomware), and I'm interested in hearing more about how these new solutions that can have a positive impact for our customers," Harris told CRN.