Many dealers today are slowly making the transition from being an MSP (Managed Service Provider) to an MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider). Clients are always seeking a dealer who has a vast array of service offerings—from Managed IT to security and more. As more and more technology is implemented, security is a priority when it comes to keeping client’s data safe and secure. ITEX 365 sat down with Greg VanDeWalker, Senior VP of IT Channel and Services at Collabrance, to learn about his advice for dealers when transitioning to become an MSSP.

Q. What benefits will MSPs experience once they transition into becoming an MSSP?

A. “Many thought leaders in the industry who have direct access to the marketplace seem to all agree that it is not an option to stay “just an MSP.” In the near future, if you are not an MSSP you will not be relevant. So, is this simply hype by vendors trying to scare MSPs to buy their products? I don’t think so. When I look at what the end user customer needs, they need a strong, multi-layered approach to security. The problem is that most SMBs don’t know what they need to be secure. For example, an MSP has a customer who experiences some kind of a breach or data compromise. The customer complains to the MSP, “How can this happen, you talked about security when you sold me?” The MSP then admits, “Well we didn’t offer ‘that’ kind of security.” To further validate this point, we recently conducted a survey of MSPs and 87% have lost a customer due to something deficient in their security offering. In comparison, an MSSP survey showed only 5% lost a customer due to their security offering. The data is telling: 87% vs 5%. So the benefits an MSP may experience transitioning to become an MSSP can include expanding their customer base, capturing more revenue opportunity, differentiating from competitors, being positioned as a true technology adviser, and proactively providing the solutions customers are seeking.”

Q. What are some of the greatest challenges for MSPs transitioning to becoming an MSSP?

A. “There are many issues but the two biggest by far are 1) money and 2) expertise. It takes a sizable investment to make sure you have the tools or working partnerships to have a viable offering. Most MSPs don’t have the cash flow or capital backing to make the necessary investments. Assuming one does have the initial investment available, you have to have higher paid technical expertise to manage this more sophisticated offering. More and more MSPs are looking at partnering with MSSPs to share the risk and go to market quicker with a security offering that is already proven and has resources in place.”

Q. As companies implement new Smart Office technology, what new service offerings do you predict MSPs will have to offer?

A. “To me this question has two level of answers. First level are the obvious technologies like managed IT, document management, managed print, unified communication, audio visual/display, and physical security. That list is a mouthful. I only know of a few companies in the US that do those things well. With that said, those items listed are what the typical SMB needs help managing in the future. The second level of Smart Office will be impacted by IoT. The proliferation of smart devices is exploding as we speak. Who will manage the lights, temperature, coffee making, coffee reordering, plant moisture, and on and on and on? We know one thing for sure, more devices will have an IP address. What we don’t know is who will capitalize on helping the SMB run more efficiently and securely.

Q. What challenges do you foresee as far as keeping Smart Office technology secure?

A. “IoT promises many benefits to the customer, but your question about security is THE question. Many companies that tout the “coolness” of their device benefits can pose big threats because security is not top of mind to these device manufacturers. The best example I can think of is a casino was hacked someone who gained access to the network through an internet-controlled thermometer in an aquarium! The hackers were able to gain access to that casino’s “high roller’ information and pull it back through the thermometer into the cloud.”

Q. What are the most common tools/resources MSSPs use to ensure their client’s information is safe?

A. “I get this question often, and many times technologists love to talk about the tools. However, it is not about the tools—it is about creating a culture of security. To the degree an MSSP can help their customers embrace a culture of security, no number of tools will help! Yes, you need the right tools and there are many excellent providers in the market. Yes, you need a deep and wide layered approach to security. But ultimately, we all have to be aware and be vigilant.”

Overall, Greg recommends making the transition to become an MSSP to generate more revenue, gain a competitive edge, be recognized as a true technology expert, and proactively provide the solutions customers are actively seeking. Although money and expertise are two of the largest challenges when transitioning, MSPs can partner with MSSPs to minimize risk and go to market quicker with security offerings. With the introduction of Smart Office, security should be the focus to prevent hackers from gaining access to company data. As more technology is introduced, more security measures will need to be taken by MSSPs to ensure data security is top-notch.

For more information about Collabrance and their Master MSSP Offering, visit