Logo

Barracuda MSP warns about change and unrealistic customer expectations

The MSP business is a fast-changing moving target and though it is optimistic, MSPs are facing several new challenges. Jason Howells, director of the international MSP business for Barracuda MSP presented at the European Managed Services and Hosting Summit in Amsterdam last week, based on his MSP Day research and with some insights into the state of the market. One of the things that came out quite strongly was how fast things are changing. IT Europa's John Garratt caught up with him.

Jason Howells: “I think this is a mature industry, but at the same time we've got a lot of new entrants - a lot of them coming out of customers and coming out of resellers.

“I think it's extremely fast-paced at the moment - not that the industry has never not been fast-paced. The MSP space in particular now is getting so much attention and investment it seems that things are probably moving faster.

“What we are seeing is demand from the end-user. That means that whether you are a reseller or a managed service provider, if you're not evolving your own businesses to adapt, then you're probably not going to survive. It will continue into a situation where most, if not all of the IT channel, will be providing monthly services.”

“It is a very different approach - a very different cycle - and I think you have to understand that before you can suggest that everyone becomes a managed service provider. We (Barracuda MSP) have been through that process and there's lots of lessons that we've learned along the way. That's the reason why we absolutely have a dedicated MSP business because you do the service and manage your customers in a very different way. This is why we all need to understand the differences and we all need to make sure that we're delivering against the expectations of those customers.”

IT Europa “This customer expectation problem is something that you referred to in your presentation. It seems as though anything IT-related becomes the problem of the MSP when it doesn't meet the customer's expectations.

Jason Howells “There are different demands; different expectations and there are different parts of the whole solution that need to be delivered and managed in a way that is all different to the traditional business. I'm particularly talking about small business as well; where they want to be successful and this is why we all need to become trusted advisors to them.”

It is a hybrid world where an MSP might completely own and run some of these IT infrastructures; in other scenarios and use cases parts are outsourced to the service provider, he says.

“There will be other elements to that network that they don't have control over and don't have visibility, so it is a challenge. What's really important, I think, is that right from the outset MSPs set very clear boundaries. In the past there has probably been unrealistic expectations, or no expectations. So when things do go wrong, the first thing [for the customer] is to find these guys who are supposed to be looking after it.”

It's a crazy world where people are transitioning from existing legacy infrastructures into new technology and new technologies are offering a digital transformation journey to navigate through. “I think it's the job of us in this industry to make sure that we have those conversations right from the outset. Everybody knows what their roles and responsibilities are and then we deliver against those expectations. That's the only way I'm going to build trust and a long-term relationship.”

IT Europa: “Of course you've got the security implications overlaid on all of this which makes it an even bigger task....”

Jason Howells “Again this expectation is just making sure that everybody is aware of what the risks are from a security perspective and then who is responsible for those security risks. There's a misconception that by moving your email into Office 365 or that it's in Office 365 gives security.

“There have been lots of conversations around security at the Summit. People are very curious as to how they get involved in it, depending on where they are on their journey. We can understand it and we can help them to make sure that they can offer services to their customers in a fully managed way.”

“And I think a large part of this is making sure that the right partnerships are built by the MSP - that each chooses the vendors to work with, to get the right support that they need to be successful. It has been interesting for me today to have conversations about the various stages of those journeys and what is perceived by those MSP as to what they need. It was really interesting with lots of security queries now.

“We've actually seen some really positive business already in this region [Benelux] although I feel that there is so much more for us, which is why we spend the time and effort to be here today and have had really interesting conversations: an excellent turnout today with absolute quality as well as quantity.”

Node4 has implemented a major privately owned hosting infrastructure solution for Decision First, a...
Whirlpool Corp. furthers its commitment to sustainability with carbon-neutral cloud infrastructure,...
Maintel, the cloud and managed services company, working in tandem with Avaya, a global leader in so...
Improving speed to market and the ability to discover new revenue streams through cloud can increase...
This latest partner announcement continues the acceleration of the Five9 partner footprint within an...
Rackspace Technology has provided Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud Native Development capabilities...
New cloud infrastructure region to launch in first half of 2022, allowing customers to run workloads...
KPMG France, commissioned by major cloud operators, OVHcloud, InfraNum, Talan and Linkt, has launche...