How MSPs Can Be ‘Problem-Solving Superheros’ During COVID-19

‘You put on a cape and fly in every time there‘s a problem. You’ve been doing it for a long time and during COVID, it’s been no different,’ says a CommScope executive.


The COVID-19 pandemic has created a world of IT trouble for many businesses around the globe that have had to quickly evolve to cope with employees working from home, remote communication needs, and security challenges. But MSPs are a critical lifeline for businesses that need help solving problems created by the coronavirus, according to CommScope.

“The world has changed in the blink of an eye and now we have a mountain of problems,” said Shawn Lucas, director of product solution architecture for Ruckus Networks, a CommScope business, during the XChange+ 2020 Virtual Experience, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.

MSPs are “problem-solving superheroes” delivering real solutions during this time of crisis, Lucas said.

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“You put on a cape and fly in every time there‘s a problem -- every time a printer won’t work or a PC won’t boot up. You swoop in and solve the problem. You’ve been doing it for a long time and during COVID, it’s been no different,” he said.

[Related: CommScope Intros Ruckus Cloud Management Service For Established, Aspiring MSPs]

CommScope, a network infrastructure provider, said that COVID-19 and the work-from-home movement has shown a bright light on the digital divide issue in the U.S. The strongest, high-speed internet connections are often found in or close to major cities, which could be a problem for those living in rural areas. The FCC‘s measurement of access to high-speed internet is also problematic: If one person in the household has just one cell phone and a data plan, that is considered “access” to quality internet.

“The digital divide suggests that people raised without a quality broadband connection faces the same problem as people who speak English as a second language,” Lucas said. ”The haves and the have-nots are really separated by an internet connection.”

The pandemic, which shut down schools and offices, has made access to quality internet critical for students that need to learn remotely and employees that need to stay working from home. But if home connectivity isn‘t an option, MSPs have a unique opportunity to help their communities, Lucas said.

Wireless internet service providers, or WISPs, are coming to the rescue during COVID-19. In one case, a local WISP converted a pavilion for socially distanced learning and working to a town in the U.S. of 1,600 people that had no connectivity to about 10 percent of the town, including K-12 students, Lucas said. The WISP accomplished this using the Ruckus R750, the company‘s four-stream 802.11ax access point, and Ruckus Unleashed, a free controller. The solution is still in place today.

“A WISP is a mom and pop shop -- they are the same people you borrow sugar from, and in this case, we‘re borrowing bytes and bits,” he said. ”This is why [partners] are superheroes.”

Another IT solution provider, sponsored by the IT Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC), got a soccer field up and running as a pop-up COVID-19 testing site in California and was also able to send the patients‘ information immediately back to the nearby hospital to get people through testing faster, Lucas said. Still other CommScope partners across several school zones helped equip “cheese wagons,” -- reverted school buses with Ruckus M510 indoor and T610 802.11ac Wave 2 outdoor access points and LTE connectivity. The buses went to their normal stops and delivered free meals to students while schools were closed. While at the bus stop, students could also use the bus network to upload homework or connect with loved ones.

The cloud can solve problems for solution providers who are busy addressing the new needs of their customers, while keeping them safe during the global health crisis, Lucas said. “You‘re a superhero wearing a cape, but you’re not invincible,” he said.

The Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi solution lets MSPs provision, monitor, and manage access points on behalf of their customers, without physically touching any location -- a big help during quarantine and shelter in place orders, Lucas said. It‘s important, now more than ever, for networks to be self-healing, self-optimizing, and autonomous, he added. Ruckus Analytics, another cloud-based solution, gives partners network-wide visibility and reporting using machine learning and AI, the company said. Ruckus Analytics can then suggest remediation for any issue.

“This is really handy information to have because it can make you look like the world‘s biggest genius to your customers,” Lucas said. ”This was the product of the future, but it became really important when we realized we couldn’t touch every network and every problem right now.”