Network vs Tech Support vs Cloud vs Cybersecurity

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MSP services can be confusing.
This article will define and decode some of the popular offerings frequently associated with MSP services.
Our industry has a lot of jargon, and I’d like to reduce the time you might spend scouring the Internet for a complete solution. Especially if everything you seek is available in one place.
This may be the first time you’ve seen a Russian doll image in an article about technology. I couldn’t resist because it’s a very concise depiction of how the following four services are complimentary, interwoven, and interdependent.

1 – Network

The term “network” is comprehensive and encompasses a multitude of hardware, software, and services – both internal and external to your organization.
Your local area network (LAN) includes firewalls, wireless access points, switches, data backup appliances, hubs, routers, battery backups, uninterrupted power supplies (UPS), carrier customer premise equipment (CPE), servers, workstations, low-voltage cabling/wiring, and more.
With the cloud revolution, your “network” most likely also includes applications and services hosted in remote data centers, accessible through ISPs whose Internet and voice services are technically known as wide area networks (WAN).
Are you aware of every endpoint, vendor contact, and agreement that pertains to your network? A network diagram is the best place to start.
Learn More: Documentation Examples

2 – Tech Support

Both end-users and IT administrators require technical support. The demand is high when systems are in flux and much lower when each piece of technology is carefully architected to perform its specific function without hiccups.
It also helps when users are properly trained and can complete basic workflows without outside assistance.
When you Google terms related to IT support, many different results appear, and the factors that drive quality of service deserve attention.
If you find a break-fix provider who remotes into your computer or network to troubleshoot, the results will be less predictable and successful than an IT provider who is already managing your network.
Tech support covers but is not limited to the following matters:

  • Problems accessing the network
  • Telecom outages
  • Replacing workstations when a laptop dies unexpectedly
  • Navigating ransomware attacks
  • Helping an executive assistant recover two years of emails accidentally deleted from one of the CEO’s Outlook folders
  • Engaging with a third-party vendor to make sure their software update successfully syncs with the client’s servers
  • Consulting on the timing of firmware updates
  • Playing diplomat (and pivoting) if the MSP offers Gold, Silver, and Platinum plans, and your agreement does not cover your request

Do you know what your MSP is contracted to provide? Most service level agreements (SLAs) will have specific tiers, definitions, and timelines for resolve.
Learn More: Integris IT Support Levels

3 – Cloud

There are two kinds of businesses: businesses using the cloud and businesses that don’t know they are using the cloud.
In our increasingly connected Internet of Things (IoT) world, references to the cloud are everywhere. The following companies are developers, integrators, distributors, and providers frequently referred to as cloud companies:

  • Managed IT service providers (MSPs)
  • Value-add resellers (VARs)
  • Technology Distributors (who sell their wares to MSPs and VARS)
  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • DropBox, Mimecast, Proofpoint, Ring Central, Nextiva, Vonage, and 8X8
  • Right Networks (Hosted QuickBooks)
  • OneLogin
  • LastPass

Some make sense to engage directly, while others are best managed by more qualified specialists who do so on your behalf.
(In the spirit of transparency, while calling yourself a “cloud company” has significant marketing appeal, most MSPs are not pure cloud plays. However, many are subject matter experts on all things cloud.)
Every service an MSP uses to manage your IT involves some form of the cloud. And they can administer various clouds for you. I chose a popular one for my example, but the other possibilities are practically endless.
In a nutshell, your MSP can administer Single Sign-On (SSO) for everyone in your organization with secure access to every application you need across any cloud or physical (and managed) network device.
Learn More: Microsoft 365 Cloud Innovation

4 – Cybersecurity

Protecting your digital assets from threat actors requires a combination of advanced technology, user awareness, and fairly obvious (but frequently neglected) system upkeep.
Each of the following plays a role and will frequently be mentioned in a cybersecurity conversation:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • Security Information Event Management (SIEM)
  • Firewalls
  • Content Filtering
  • Anti-Virus, SPAM and Malware Protection & Removal
  • Regulation & Compliance
  • NIST CSF, ISO 27001, ISO 27002, SOC2, HIPAA, and GDPR
  • Backup & Disaster Recovery
  • Microsoft Azure AD
  • Duo Security
  • Two-Factor Authentication
  • SSO
  • Password Management
  • Cybersecurity Awareness Training
  • Acceptable Use Policies
  • Network diagrams and IT roadmaps
  • Projects to upgrade hardware, software, applications

Projects like workstation and operating system refreshes are surprisingly effective when it comes to protecting your IT systems and users from data breaches.
However, this basic housekeeping detail gets frequently overlooked or postponed by a lot of organizations. Along with user training, I consider this Cybersecurity 101.
Why? No matter how much security technology evolves, it’s no match for employees with vulnerable equipment who can’t resist clicking on random links or using unsecured webmail when their corporate email is not working properly.
Learn More: Cybersecurity Examples

Next Steps?

An MSP can wrap all of these related services into one offering either as a fully managed solution or one that is co-managed with in-house IT personnel.
They can also deal with all of the care and feeding related to each of the vendors in your technology stack, so you have more time to excel in your area of expertise.

Jed is a Solution Advisor at Integris who has specialized in MSP solution development, sales, and marketing communications since 2003.

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