Your business’s IT infrastructure is central to your employees’ productivity and the se continuity of your operations. The right managed service provider (MSP) has a critical role to play in keeping your business up and running, no matter what unexpected challenges may arise. And your MSP should help you build, monitor and maintain an IT ecosystem that will enable your employees to do their best possible work.
But what about protecting that IT ecosystem from cyberattacks and other risks? Should you engage a separate managed security service provider (MSSP), or should the two jobs be performed by the same organization?
The question is complicated. After all, providing top-notch managed IT services requires a different set of capabilities and skill sets than providing high-quality managed security services does. And there needs to be an effective separation of duties between the departments and teams.
That said, there are several key benefits to having your MSP and MSSP be the same company, and in most cases, it’s advantageous. The caveat is that you need to make sure that you’re engaging a top-tier provider who is truly qualified to provide both sets of services.
Simplicity breeds efficiency
IT security environments are notoriously complex. The average organization now manages 76 different security tools, a number that’s been driven upward by the shift to remote work and growing cloud adoption. More doesn’t always mean better, though. Having too many tools can make it harder to integrate them, paradoxically reducing visibility.
When a single vendor manages your IT and security infrastructures, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of consolidation: streamlined operations and greater efficiency. If an MSP’s IT service management platform is integrated with its security management platform, engineers, security specialists and incident response teams will all have fewer tools to manage and fewer dashboards to consult in case of an incident. This translates into time savings. Should ransomware ever strike your organization, every second will count, and this time savings could make the difference between an isolated incident touching only one end user’s device and a devastating breach that impacts the entire company.
Strong collaborative relationships
In the past, it was all too common for enterprise IT and security teams to have adversarial relationships. After all, their responsibilities were entirely different, and often conflicting.
With an MSP that also provides managed security services, the opposite can be true. When you have team members who collaborate often, not only to perform operational functions but also to work together in other ways (including out-of-the-office team building activities), you’ll get a group of people with strong relationships and a sense of camaraderie. Everyone will be pulling for the same team.
This is particularly true in organizations where both teams have similar compensation and bonus structures. Incentivizing everyone to focus on client satisfaction will help to keep them all moving in the same direction.
Furthermore, it’s much faster to bring people together when you’re dealing with a single organization. Not only is this advantageous when you’re assembling response teams during an incident (when, as we’ve mentioned, every second matters), but it’s also helpful for post-mortem analysis and reporting.
It’s often less expensive to have a single service provider cover both sets of responsibilities. There are clear financial benefits that come with the ability to bundle services from just one vendor. Besides this, it’s simpler and easier to engage with just one vendor for adjacent services.
Finding the right MSP + MSSP
While there are clear benefits to obtaining managed security services from the same provider as operational IT services, you do need to ensure that that provider has the requisite expertise and capabilities to be able to serve your business successfully.
One key element that’s necessary for this success is maintaining a separation of duties between the teams. Having people wear multiple hats is a recipe for disaster. The professionals working at a service desk will have entirely different educational backgrounds, training and experiences than those working in a network operations center (NOC) or technical operations center (TOC). And those working in a security operations center (SOC) have yet another, entirely different set of competencies.
While some individuals may have overlapping skills, no one can fill all of these disparate roles at the same time. Certainly, it takes more than one person to provide responsive customer service and meet all service level agreements (SLAs) for production uptime. And a single team could not communicate effectively to end users and to business leadership, all while working to recover business-critical data and isolate parts of the network.
An MSP that’s capable of providing high-quality managed security services will be one that leverages a formal framework like the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework, which delineates exactly which steps need to be taken in case of an incident and which artifacts need to be produced afterwards. The provider will also have extensive expertise in an array of domains ranging from business applications and data intelligence to cloud migration and infrastructure — and their managed security services team will be able to provide expert monitoring for the entire ecosystem.