The Path to MSSP Success Starts with a Trusted and Proven Guide

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If you are contemplating moving to an MSSP model or have already enjoyed some limited success with one and now want to go full-scale into it, I have some concrete advice: Partner with the right vendor so you can accelerate the process, improve your time to revenue and bring your service to life quicker and better than your competitors.

The transition from a traditional partner (reseller) to a managed security services partner is a journey. I equate it to climbing a mountain. When training to climb a mountain, you typically start by conquering hills first. It is a similar experience for partners wanting to become MSSPs.

3 Keys to a Successful MSSP Journey

Partners that want to successfully summit the MSSP “mountain” must make three key decisions:

  • Select the right path (services)
  • Pack the right tools (technology)
  • Trust a proven guide (vendor)

The Right Path

Typically, when partners are looking to make this managed cybersecurity services journey, these strivers start up the path by offering opportunistic services that they can augment with their traditional business services. Then they scale up to complementary services. And, finally, they reach the top of the summit offering managed security services.

Author: Michael O’Brien, regional VP – strategic routes to market, Fortinet.
Author: Michael O’Brien, regional VP – strategic routes to market, Fortinet.

Because the grade is steep and the degree of difficulty is high, very few partners cover this ground quickly. No partner wakes up one day and suddenly says, “I going to be a leading security operations center (SOC ) partner today.” Typically, resellers start somewhere simple like device management areas, and work up to handling and supporting more complex solutions and organizations.

A good example of this: If a partner wanted to use an endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution for endpoint management, they can simply do that through the cloud and on demand. With no cost, no infrastructure, and very little overhead, a partner can quickly supply endpoint detection and response.

The Right Tools

To become a successful MSSP, you have to begin with technology that is worth building a service around. It has to be versatile and provide an opportunity for your first service as well as your next. For a deep dive into the technology that an MSSP should focus on, see my previous MSSP Alert blog from November 1, 2022: Start with an Integrated Solution for a Successful MSSP Vendor Partnership.

An MSSP should choose technology that leads to an integrated and integrate-able solution. You want to avoid selecting standalone point products that are siloed and move towards integrated mesh solutions that work together. Integrated solutions make it easy for MSSPs to go from one offer or two offers to multiple offers. I wrote this in November, but it bears repeating, “an MSSP will do well to part with a vendor that isn’t prepared to help them on their journey from integrating point products into a cybersecurity platform.”

A Proven Guide

As an MSSP that’s supplying a service to customers, you're always looking for a way to improve that service — whether it is achieving a better ROI or providing a better customer experience. For instance, if you’re delivering a standard SD-WAN service, which is a very highly sought-after set of services, but you don’t have cybersecurity that’s central and you’re experiencing all the aches and pains that come with having a third-party security component in the middle of your solution: Why not look for a vendor that’s already fully integrated it? A vendor that’s made it seamless and part and parcel to the delivery?

Partners making this transition need to choose a vendor with an offer development team that will function as their enabler — helping them create a long-term strategy as well as providing stability, sustainability, and delivery of complicated services.

If a partner builds on these things with the vendor’s offer development support team, the partner has made a strong start on the road to becoming an MSSP. The next obvious question is: How does a vendor help a partner help accelerate the journey? This is where having a clear corporate strategy will serve as a roadmap.

Creating a Strategy

To create a strategy for successfully scaling up to the MSSP summit, begin by answering these key questions:

  • Where do I want my business to be in three to five years?
  • How will a vendor enable my strategy?
  • What does the vendor’s offer development team provide that truly differentiates it from its competitors?

The right vendor will be “the secret sauce” that helps an MSSP fulfill its business objectives, services, or goals. It's important to select a vendor that can take you through that entire journey. Look for a vendor partner that will help enable this journey and will help you get into offering services with little overhead. Their program should help enable your growth—almost incubate you.

Choose a Vendor that Understands You Objectives

The vendor needs to understand your objectives and the path you are on. Questions that partners on this journey need to have answered are: Is the vendor proven? And does the vendor understand the paths that I have to take? Obviously, you want to choose the vendor that understands you and understands how you want to grow.

For MSSPs that are further along the journey or have already reached the summit and want to stay there — or want to climb to even higher heights — working with a new vendor may be appropriate and necessary.

You may have chosen to climb this mountain with one vendor but now you have found yourself stranded, and not exactly understanding what the next steps are, or where the next summit is. Don’t climb the mountain with a vendor that does not know the path. Your MSSP success comes from an alignment of people, processes, tools, and technology, work with a vendor that has proven track record in all these areas.

Author Michael O’Brien is regional VP, strategic routes to market, Fortinet. Read more Fortinet blogs hereRegularly contributed guest blogs are part of MSSP Alert’s sponsorship program.