March 06, 2024  — 

Tech stack consolidation: 3 things your MSP should know and 3 things to avoid

Product portfolios continue to expand despite an already oversaturated and competitive cyber protection market. By and large, these solutions are developed in response to new emerging threats and vendors are steadily transitioning these solutions to cloud-based management consoles. From cybersecurity and backup to ticketing and billing, today’s MSPs find themselves cobbling together tools and juggling multiple siloed consoles — contributing to sprawl.

MSP businesses end up allocating additional resources to recruit in-demand and specialized talent to manage individual consoles. Eventually, they reach a point where an extensive workforce is needed to see a return on investment from point solutions. Additionally, the task of managing multiple consoles becomes burdensome as technicians navigate from one console to another. This leads to delays, missed security incidents, overlooked gaps and unhappy clients.

Service providers are wising up by consolidating

In recent years, service providers have moved to consolidate vendor lists. The idea that one console and one vendor can cover the protection and management of as many areas as possible is invaluable to modern MSP businesses. With one centralized console, it’s not only faster and easier to manage, but also gives service providers a holistic view of all aspects of their business, including security, endpoint detection and response (EDR), data protection, management and back-office operations. Plus, a key advantage of vendor consolidation is its immediate cost savings. MSP businesses no longer need to foot the bill for a handful of independent tools and instead pay for one comprehensive solution —improving overall total cost of ownership (TCO).

3 things your MSP business should know

1.      Third-party validation is a must-have for vendor selection

Your MSP business should pay careful attention to what third-party analyst reports say when considering an integrated solution. You will need to be confident that the chosen vendor and their solution will not fail your MSP and clients. Third-party analysts and specialized testing labs like AV-Test, AV-Comparatives or Virus Bulletin rigorously evaluate, score and rank the market’s top-tier solutions based on stringent criteria. Reading these reports can also give you an idea of the vendor’s latest innovations, areas of expertise and the direction of their product roadmap.

Vendors backed by good standings in third-party analyst assessments help support the soundness of your MSP’s decision that the solution is the ideal fit. This is a solid indication of the vendor’s reliability, quality of their solution, robust infrastructure and strong investment portfolio.

Peer review websites, such as Gartner Peer Insights, provide valuable information from real-world users of the solution, solution competitive positioning and vendor capabilities and strategies. This feedback gives insight into solution experience, including ease of use, deployment, setup, integration, client support and other data that influence the overall user satisfaction and market presence of the solution.

2.      A portfolio assessment is key in identifying inefficiencies

Identify how many vendors your MSP business is currently using. Ask yourself, “are there any solutions we are unhappy with?” This could mean integration issues, complex management, time-consuming problems and other inefficient areas. You should pinpoint security gaps and gather ideas on how you can improve existing setbacks.

Your MSP business investigates the different solution propositions on the market across the industry’s leading vendors. From there, you can choose a solution that best fits your MSP business’s needs, the requirements of your clients and potential future demands as your business scales. A vast majority of competitive solutions offer consolidated approaches that help MSPs manage protection and tasks on one console.

Between email security, patch management, endpoint protection, EDR, data protection and back-office operations, your MSP business may not be able to consolidate everything in a single place. But by consolidating your most cumbersome tools, you help eliminate unnecessary complexity, cover gaps, save time and reduce costs — improving your quality of service and tapping new revenue opportunities.

3.      APIs can help with consolidation

The next question your MSP business should ask is “what are my integration options?” Application program interfaces (APIs) or maybe even a development framework like Acronis CyberApp can help two solutions integrate and effectively exchange information between them. You will want to consider that future solutions that you adopt may not be expandable. You’ll need to check if the solution can scale as your client base grows and ensure you are future-proofing solution investments in the right direction.

3 things your MSP business should avoid

1.      Untested, unproven solutions that you can’t try without commitment

Today’s third-party analysts and independent evaluations will assess well-known, respected solutions. Alexander Ivanyuk, Senior Director, Product and Technology at Acronis doesn’t recommend choosing a solution that lacks market presence. Vendors that are not represented across the industry’s coveted third-party analyst evaluations aren’t worth the risk.

Recognized vendors help attest to the quality of the solution — and that’s what cyber insurers often care most about. With a proven solution, your MSP business demonstrates to insurance underwriters that you and clients reinforce security posture with a renowned vendor and take cyber risk seriously. But evaluation results from third-party analysts aren’t the end-all. On paper, a specific solution might seem like an ideal match, but upon firsthand use and closer examination, your MSP business could run into unexpected problems.

One of the most helpful methods to mitigate unwanted problems and ensure the new solution will properly align is by trying the solution yourself. Ideally, if MSP technicians watch a demo or start a free trial, they can get acquainted with, experiment with and explore the solution before your MSP business invests.

MSPs must do their research and avoid solutions with too many negative peer reviews. Sites like Gartner Peer Insights review are collected from verified solution users and give prospective buyers a glimpse into the experience of real users.

2.      Resource-intensive solutions

When it comes to retaining in-demand IT talent, a solution’s ease of use is of utmost importance to resource-constrained MSPs. This underscores my emphasis on trying a solution demo before purchasing to ensure there are no obvious skill gaps and the solution is simple for your current technicians to manage. If the solution requires specialized IT talent, smaller MSPs should consider a user-friendly and more affordable option.

For larger service providers, deeper controls may be required and a solution with functional, effective and customizable capabilities will give IT professionals the granularity to tailor protection. These large MSPs not only need a top-tier, configurable solution, but it also should be easy for administrators to understand.

3.      Solutions that won’t scale should be avoided

When evaluating potential solutions for your MSP business, take a forward-looking approach and keep in mind your current obstacles and future challenges you may encounter as your breadth of services expands.

Study the proposed vendor’s vertical market and research if the company is motivated to expand into connected areas — for example, cybersecurity, backup, Microsoft 365 security and business automation. You can even ask a vendor’s sales representative what the product roadmap looks like. They will be honest about the direction of upcoming solutions, features and capabilities.

Finally, threats have no borders. You’ll want to consider whether you want to partner with a local vendor or a global player. While local companies may offer personalized support and gain a deeper understanding of regional challenges, they may lack a fundamental background in a wider range of expertise, international threat intelligence and cross-border regulations. Consider the vendor’s political values and how they align with your MSP business and clients’ vision.

Learn more about Acronis solutions for MSPs.