DIY Managed Services
There have a been a lot of new MSPs joining MSPAlliance recently, all of them looking for resources and advice on starting a managed services business. It occurred to me to write a quick summary of how a startup MSP might chart a course of building a managed services practice, largely by themselves.
So, if I was going to build an MSP practice today...this is how I’d do it.
If you don’t have a business plan you are flying blind. MSPs who start building a practice without having a plan risk acquiring tools, people, and processes that may ultimately be unnecessary to the goals of the company.
NOC vs. No NOC
Based largely on my business plan, the decision to build a NOC or outsource it would be an easier decision when I figured out who my target audience would be. If I was planning on selling into more regulated markets, I may begin by having a goal of building my own NOC rather than outsource.
Unless I was willing to invest a lot of money up front, engaging a 3rd party to provide even off hours and weekend NOC or help desk services is a very compelling move. I would probably not go to a professional NOC company, but would instead select a certified MSP who was willing to help me get going.
Let’s Go Shopping
There are tons of options for MSP tools today; far more than existed 15 years ago. And, the price points of these technologies have come down considerably. Still, picking the right technology is important, and ultimately depends on the needs outlined in the business plan.
The number of hosted RMM and ticketing platforms has grown a lot. So, I don't have to maintain infrastructure and software to host my MSP management tools, which is nice. Being able to focus on delivering the service instead of maintaining my toolsets is nice. Later on I can decide if I want to bring it in hose. For now, I'd probably just use the hosted (i.e., cloud) versions of these tools.
Now, let's talk security. Given how important the topic is and how much money is being spent on it, offering a managed security solution seems like a no-brainer. And, it is. I would definitely add security to my lineup of managed offerings.
The challenge (see the section below) is whether or not I can hire the talent to deliver the services myself. Now, I know a lot about security as a business and could offer some consulting solutions around security awareness, training, etc. Adding a vulnerability assessment offering wouldn't be difficult considering some of the readily available scanning technologies out there.
But, if I wanted to manage firewalls, spin up a SIEM offering, then I'd probably start looking outside the company and either resell or white label an offering instead.
Hiring Key Talent
I’m not a technical person, so this article is based on my abilities only. I’d want to have at least one core person of considerable talent who could understand and string together all the technology needed to deliver the solutions. I wouldn’t go out and try to fill all the basic tech positions; that would come later. I would want to find a CIO type of person who could help me.
Starting a managed services practice used to be very expensive and challenging. While it still may be challenging, the costs have come down considerably. There are many excellent technology companies making tools to help MSPs startup and grow their businesses. And, withe over $1 trillion being spent this year on IT services, there hasn't been a better time to be in managed services than today.