Q&A: A Managed Service Provider’s Perspective on the Changing Landscape
As World MSP Day (coming up on May 21) approaches, Smarter MSP celebrates what it means to be a managed service provider in 2020 by sitting down with MSP peers to get their feedback on the state of the managed services industry. I recently spoke with Eric Rivest, Vice President of Business Development at Natrix Technologies, Inc., to understand what he sees regarding trends, challenges and opportunities, and what he expects most from the managed services industry.
Q&A With Eric Rivest
How Did You Start Offering Managed Services?
Patrick Chagnon, the president, founded Natrix Technologies in 1998 and started as a systems integrator or value-added reseller. When I arrived at the end of 2005, I came from the largest telecommunications company in Canada, and I quickly noticed that Natrix was not generating recurring revenues.
We signed our first SPLA (Services Provider License Agreement) and launched a hosted exchange in mid-2006, then added a PSA and signed with N-Able for our first MMR. At the time, N-Able offered a transition plan to help you move from a VAR practice to an MSP practice. It took us a while to figure it out because we were a small team, but that's how it all started for us.
How Has the Role of Msps Changed over the past Three Years?
I would say that customers are more comfortable with the concept of recurring monthly services and pricing than they used to be. I remember we had to work very hard at first to sell the idea of managed services, whereas now it's almost a given and customers expect a set of service levels that we used to offer as optional. Most IT people are now offering managed services. So we need to continue to improve our service offering with new tools and an effective team behind it!
If You Could Give One Piece of Advice to Someone Just Starting to Offer Managed Services, What Would It Be?
It's funny you should ask me this question, I mentor two guys who started an MSP practice in another province, and I told them this: get an MSP to manage your tickets and contracts, get an RMM, and know your costs per seat AT ALL TIMES.
What Do You See as Your Key Opportunities over the next 1–2 Years?
This COVID-19 crisis brings a whole new security challenge. Most of our customers were somewhat ready to implement remote workers. Still, we had to be creative and flexible to set up "out of contract" endpoints without enforcing the usual security standards. As this is the beginning of a new era, security will get more attention from decision-makers who were putting off some decisions until later.
What Do You Think Are the Critical Security Services That Msps Need to Offer to Be Successful?
This part of our services is constantly evolving. In the beginning, managed anti-virus was almost a breakthrough! At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we saved the day because all of our managed customers already had a Barracuda NG firewall. This made it easy for us to convert their employees to working remotely.
Backups are now almost a part of security practices, considering all the threats that surround them. In short - endpoint security, network security and backups. If we focus on that, it's a good start.
Will You Be Celebrating “msp Day” on May 21? If so, How?
We will undoubtedly organize something for our staff! They are the reason we are doing so well.
Eric isn't the only one excited about "World MSP Day" on May 21, 2020, as we look forward to celebrating the global MSP community. Don't forget to join the action and register for virtual events!