David Weeks, N-able: A unique time for MSPs – Cloud Tech

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David Weeks, N-able: A unique time for MSPs

Could you tell us a little bit about N-able and what it does?

N-able provides IT management solutions that empower managed services providers to deliver outsourced IT services for their end customers, which are primarily small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

MSPs can get monitoring and management, automation, security, and backup software from an ever-changing list of providers to protect and service their customers. But our goal is to grow and evolve alongside them—to help build their business and simplify the constant change SMEs face every day due to digital evolution and an increasingly complex technology environment. We work to provide value that goes beyond our software solutions by delivering partner-focused training and resources like our Head Nerds, community programs, and the MSP Institute.

N-able completed its spin-off from SolarWinds not too long ago. Why did N-able decide to go it alone and what, if anything, is likely to change?

We believe the independence enables us to focus more on supporting our partners, allowing for even greater investments in our programs for MSPs, products, and people.

The milestone we achieved with our IPO is the culmination of almost a year of hard work on the transaction, and more than 20 years building a reputation for empowering MSPs as they help fuel and support the evolution of the SME market. Our focus is to continue delivering best-in-class partnership, protection, and performance across our growing base of more than 25,000 MSPs who support 500,000+ SMEs with more than 7 million endpoints. As we look to the future, our partners know that we are dedicated to investing in their success – adding innovation to our platform and resources that enable them to grow their own businesses.

How much of an impact has the COVID pandemic had on the demand for MSPs?

The pandemic validated the true value of the MSP business model – MSPs were built to support this scenario. They were pushed to the ‘frontline’ as a growth and business enabler, becoming an essential worker and business partner who understood how to keep businesses moving forward and secure by helping drive business continuity.

This is a unique time for MSPs – this evolution creates opportunity for SMEs to differentiate their businesses and enable a distributed workforce across a variety of environments and devices. Due to rising costs, IT complexity, and security threats, SMEs are increasingly relying on MSPs for proactive and recurring IT services. What we have seen since the beginning of COVID, is an enhanced understanding of the value an MSP delivers in protecting and supporting the key revenue streams for SMEs.

Are there any tech segments you see developing particularly well for MSPs at the moment?

Cloud saw huge adoption during the pandemic, which has created greater access for users to their corporate networks to do their jobs across a multitude of devices, whether corporate-owned or personal. The result is greater opportunity for MSPs to drive the risk mitigation and security conversation. All MSPs have somewhat of a greenfield as the options to secure their customers continue to advance.

The pandemic really sped up the proliferation of cloud adoption across all verticals, but a lot of companies still seem to be struggling with moving to the cloud. What advice would you give to companies attempting to manage cloud computing complexities?

Cloud is becoming more complex, but it also offers a great deal of scalability and capability for these businesses. MSPs should be looking to move customers to new, more secure infrastructures in smaller pieces – for example when hardware is out of warranty, virtualize them and move to the cloud. Carrying out a full lift and shift in many cases (not all) creates a great deal of disruption to the end user and a period of reduced productivity for the business.

Companies in some sectors are also now adopting AI and machine learning tech. How do you see those technologies developing?

AI has been around for quite some time, but today we see MSPs adopting and/or garnering this capability in a multitude of toolsets. AI will continue to allow MSPs to drive sales and optimize the service levels and outcomes their customers expect, but all of this can be done without having to add “people” in many cases. In addition, AI is a culmination of an industry providing knowledge and capability; it’s almost like crowdsourcing information to better support the MSP business.

Cybersecurity seems to be a never-ending challenge for businesses. What are the biggest security issues you see companies combatting now?

An issue that is starting to wane but that we still encounter, is some of the smaller companies still believe they’re not a target for cybercrime, largely because they feel they have little of value to be stolen. This is so far from reality, company and customer data is one of the most valuable assets a business has and no matter the size of the company, can catch the eye of cybercriminals. Phishing, malware, zero-day attacks, and application vulnerabilities all represent the modern-day threat to the SMB.

Many business owners today have a much better understanding of proper security posture for their business, and they are looking for guidance from MSPs for this. There has never been a more important time to keep cyberhygiene at the forefront. Addressing the basics helps prevent cyber-attacks. Many times, the stumbling block can be the investment that may be required to come up to “par” with regard to a minimum standard on security and risk mitigation. MSPs need to be able to educate and project plan the correct process to move these customers to a more secure engagement. Companies need guidance and education and then be able to disseminate it down into their own organization and users to ensure coverage and buy in. Security is a partnership, not a one-way street.

The company has stated that it plans to focus more on R&D. Are there any particular types of products you plan to focus on?

Over the years, we’ve invested heavily in bringing tools and features to help MSPs stay ahead of the curve while also offering training and education to help people round out their capabilities. We’re continuing to build on the foundational set of solutions that help our MSPs secure, monitor, and manage their customers. Security continues to be one of the biggest growth opportunities for MSPs, particularly in a hybrid work-from-home/office world, so we will continue to harden our security inside and outside the company to manage, detect, and respond to today’s security threats for MSPs and their customers.

What technology trends do you expect to emerge in the coming year or so?

The main trend I believe many MSPs are looking at is how to best manage across multi-tenant environments and distributed infrastructures but still have proper separation services in place to mitigate risk. With the changes in the security landscape, many MSPs today are looking at their current posture and setup. The main trend will be continual evaluation of technologies that allow for shared responsibility, so it’s a community approach to ensuring customers are secured properly.

Want to learn more about topics like this from senior executives in this space? Learn more at the Cloud in FinTech & Banking Summit, on October 13 2021, on how financial organisations are using cloud migration for competitive advantage.

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