Questions that every business should ask managed services providers

Ever-evolving cybersecurity threats and infrastructure complexity can make it difficult for small IT teams to keep up. Managed services providers can help.

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Dean Mitchell

Businesses with lean IT teams may find it difficult to juggle business continuity, disaster recovery and backup strategies. All of these are critical for a strong defense to meet today’s cybersecurity challenges, and yet they’re also challenging on top of handling day-to-day tasks.

Many small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are turning to managed service providers (MSPs) to help fill security skillset gaps, as well as help with general IT needs.

“SMB IT spending is estimated by analyst firm Gartner to be $1.2 trillion, and growing at a 4.6% compounded annual growth rate,’’ says Pat Hurley, Vice President and General Manager of Sales Americas, at Acronis. He adds that the pandemic has caused businesses of all sizes to adjust rapidly to protect employees working from home.

How MSPs can fill security skillset gaps

There is a shortage of qualified security professionals, and this is a global problem, Hurley says. “The skills gaps are wide and new threats are emerging every day. Not only are threats evolving, but the solutions to combat them are also developing very fast, making it difficult to keep up.”

MSPs can help SMBs fill skills gaps and address security threats. However, Hurley says that MSPs should not be considered a complete panacea. SMBs must also offer ongoing education for employees on constantly changing cybersecurity risks. “Technology can only get you so far, and protect you and your company so much,” he says.

SMBs might think they cannot afford to hire the services of an MSP, but Hurley stresses that “at some point, they may not be able to afford not to work with an MSP.” Technology has become more complex, especially with the adoption of multiple clouds. The cost of on-premises IT infrastructure is growing as well, along with maintenance costs. Outsourcing IT services can potentially create cost efficiencies and remove the need for capital expenditures such as servers and other hardware.


Questions SMBs should ask service providers

Before engaging with an MSP, small business leaders should develop a list of questions for potential candidates. Ask providers about:

  • the types of services they offer
  • their level of technical expertise
  • costs for the different services they provide and whether the rates are per device, user or workload

Another critical consideration: Find out where the MSP’s data center is located. This is where your data will live — should something happen and you need access, you’ll want to know the process and how long will it take. This information should lead to more in-depth discussions with vendors about solutions they use for backup, disaster recovery, security, detection and response, and forensics.

“In the same way you are vetting the MSP, it’s good to also find out how that provider vets new solutions to offer to their customers,” Hurley says. “In line with that, be sure to ask for customer references.”

Running a small or mid-sized business with limited staff can be challenging, especially with cyberthreats on the rise. Partnering with an MSP can help ease the burden on the technology side and give you peace of mind.

From applications to infrastructure, click here to see how Acronis can help your organization fill security gaps and protect your business.


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