Continuum CEO George: Security 'The Number One Way' For MSPs To Differentiate Themselves

Security breaches will be the leading factor behind end customers taking their business to another managed service provider in 2018.

That's the prediction from Continuum CEO Michael George, whose company has placed a huge bet on cybersecurity. The Boston-based IT service management vendor has made significant investments in its security operations center (SOC) and is working with partners on the rollout of its two new managed security services offerings in the marketplace.

"If you look at the amount of ransomware attacks that have occurred, and the number of companies that have gone out of business, it’s a very real problem now for the small business owner," George told CRN. "And we don’t believe that MSPs are going to coexist with security-specific providers. MSPs have to become security providers."

[Related: The Lines Between MSP, MSSP Are 'Absolutely Gone' Says Continuum CEO]

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Threat detection and remediation present a major challenge for MSPs, George said, given the widespread lack of proficient security personnel in the IT industry. Often, it's enterprises that are scooping up the top available talent, and MSPs lack the resources to realistically build their own SOC.

But this challenge also presents a chance for savvy MSPs to win net new business, according to George. He said many end customers believe they are already secure, and they need partners to provide meaningful guidance around an expanding cyberattack surface

"It is their greatest opportunity to grow, expand their business and go capture customers that they’ve long sought after for a long time," George said, "because they have effectively repositioned themselves."

Fielder Hiss, vice president of product, said Continuum began making its managed security offerings – security tool management solution Profile & Protect as well as the SOC-centric Detect & Respond solution – available to a small number of partners in mid-December.

The platform provider will continue working with those partners while opening up the offerings to new ones in the coming weeks; Hiss anticipates a mid-March general release to its MSP community.

"We’re working to get out in the market with them, help them articulate the value and really connect and create some separation from what they do traditionally for their clients," Hiss told CRN.

Customer education, he said, is a key first step for MSPs looking to differentiate themselves. Hiss believes the best MSPs are discussing the various elements of risk, engaging executives or ownership and then layering in their security services, rather using fear-mongering to drive sales.