Why MSPs are critical in a digital world

Digitisation, multicloud environments and cyber security are just some of the reasons it is crucial to work with a managed service provider.

Johannesburg, 10 Jun 2022
Read time 4min 10sec
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Caesar Tonkin, Executive Head of Division: Security, Nexio.
Caesar Tonkin, Executive Head of Division: Security, Nexio.

As organisations reprioritise on the back of their developing digital transformation strategies, so the importance of the cloud is once again coming into focus. Whether it is related to a need to provide disaster recovery services, a desire to offer a modernised approach to the application environment, or a tool to help clients engage with their end-customers, cloud is more critical than ever. 

In other words, digital acceleration is underpinned by the cloud, which in turn means it needs strong security surrounding it.

Everything today is essentially underpinned by a security mindset, notes Caesar Tonkin, EHOD for Security at Nexio, who adds that as with any new service, there are attendant issues like a lack of skills or capabilities. This, he says, is why many organisations turn to managed service providers (MSPs) to help them realise value and eliminate pain points.

“Security is doubtless fundamental to an organisation’s cloud focus, and the key to success lies in properly rethinking how it is done. This means understanding what risks the company faced when hosting on-premises, and how these risks change when you begin moving workloads to a virtual data centre. This is because the nature of attacks, and even of cyber security essentials, is very different in the cloud compared to on-premises,” he says.

Basha Pillay, Executive Head of Division: Cloud, Nexio.
Basha Pillay, Executive Head of Division: Cloud, Nexio.

“It is the role of the MSP to assist the customer to determine things like risks, roles and even the very nature of security. In my experience, the MSP should also provide advice around issues like the type of threats and vulnerabilities the client should consider, what their security controls should look like and what the security obligations are of third parties accessing the client’s network.”

Tonkin adds that the MSP should have a security operations centre (SOC) to provide 24/7 security monitoring of critical systems, to seek out suspicious activity and network traffic, and indicators of ransomware, DDOS and phishing attacks.

“This is vital if the MSP is going to be able to aggregate security events, drive an investigation and remediate based on the severity of the attack and the risk prioritisation strategy. It is also important that the customer has a sense that the SOC has their back, providing them with a cyber defence capability underpinned by a highly capable team, thereby making their business more cyber resilient.”

Basha Pillay, EHOD for Cloud at Nexio, points out that the value delivered by an MSP relies on the specialised skills that the customer can tap into. After all, he says, for the customer to employ a number of cloud and security specialists would prove rather costly. However, with the MSP model, this skills base can be delivered to the customer at a much more affordable rate.

Lisa Fielder, Executive Head of Division: Managed Services, Nexio.
Lisa Fielder, Executive Head of Division: Managed Services, Nexio.

“Apart from security, it is also important to remember when choosing a cloud partner that you should seek a player that can manage multiple clouds in a single environment. This too is vital, as with a growing number of hyperscalers now opening local data centres, the opportunity to adopt a multicloud strategy and leverage different services from different cloud providers, has increased substantially,” adds Pillay.

“A multicloud strategy demands an experienced cloud and security partner, as having to manage numerous clouds in a single environment is particularly complex. Thus, the search for the right partner should encompass seeking out one with advanced specialisations across key hyperscalers, as this will provide the customer with a choice in respect of how and where they consume services.”

Lisa Fielder, EHOD for Managed Services at Nexio, adds that the right partner is one that offers a combination of the best tools, skillsets and service offering, coupled with a strong cloud and security capability and the ability to provide a managed service across multiple clouds.

“Multicloud is important today, as single vendor lock-in creates a whole new range of challenges. There has been a huge increase in cyber attacks, which means that it is only a matter of time before a hyperscaler suffers one. This is why it is crucial to work with a partner who understands both cloud and security, in order to help mitigates such risks.

“I believe the right partner to be one that uses a hybrid multicloud strategy to allow them to act as the ‘glue’ between the various hyperscalers and the OEMs, while keeping the customer at the centre. This, coupled with their knowledge and skills, will enable the MSP to guide the customer safely though their cloud journey,” she concludes.

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