Why We Launched MSSP Alert

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What is MSSP Alert -- and what inspired us to launch this site?  First, let's pinpoint our mission: MSSP Alert addresses the urgent need to safeguard customer assets. It is the global voice of the Managed Security Service Provider industry. Our exclusive business, technology and cybersecurity content empowers you to build or partner your way toward MSSP success.

Now, our readership: MSSP Alert serves...

  1. Established MSSPs that are seeking timely updates about cybersecurity trends, regulations, business opportunities, technologies and partnerships.
  2. Emerging MSSPs that need guidance as they build their security practices and associated service catalogs.
  3. Aspiring MSSPs including channel partners, service providers and businesses outside the traditional channel that want to transform into MSSPs -- or partner with established MSSPs.
  4. Businesses that are seeking MSSP services.

What Inspired MSSP Alert's Launch?

The answer involves a series of seemingly separate events and multiple anecdotes from experts around us. Connect the dots from one anecdote to the next, and it became clear that MSSP Alert was an online community waiting to happen.

The early timeline goes something list this...

  • September 2014: Amy Katz and I co-launch After Nines Inc. to consult a bit in the IT market.
  • September 2015: After Nines Inc. launches ChannelE2E, a media site that tracks IT service providers from Entrepreneur to Exit (E2E). It remains the fastest-growing IT media website we've ever launched -- and we launched quite a few at our previous company from about 2008 to 2011 or so.
  • Now: We're launching MSSP Alert.

MSSP Alert: Spotting the Market Gap -- And Filling It

Nick Bock
Nick Bock
Justin Kalihoff

The more recent timeline -- specifically related to MSSP Alert -- goes something like this...

June 2016: While preparing for a ChannelE2E webcast, we learn that a Top 100 Vertical Market MSP (named Five Nines) leverages ransomware mitigation services from an MSSP (Infogressive). Five Nines CEO Nick Bock and Infogressive CEO Justin Kallhoff describe their business partnership with ChannelE2E. It's like the classic Master MSP/MSP model -- only in the managed security market. We're intrigued.  So are our webcast attendees.

Lyf Widenberg

Mid-September 2016: During HTG IT Channel Summit in Iowa, Mytech Partners President Lyf Wildenberg mentioned that his MSP was preparing to launch a managed security services practice. Hmmm... Mytech already offered endpoint security and associated services. But Wildenberg saw an opportunity to do something bigger. Something more dramatic, especially amid the growing ransomware attacks that had been spreading across the Internet.

Continuum CEO Michael George

Late September 2016: Fast forward a few weeks to Continuum Navigate 2016 in Boston. During the event, Continuum CEO Michael George hinted that his company was exploring a potential Security Operations Center (SOC) launch. Hmmm.... That's particularly interesting since Continuum already offers NOC (Network Operations Center) services to MSPs.

Wendy Bahr, chief commercial officer, Rubrik

November 2016, Part I: Cisco Channel Chief Wendy Bahr urged partners to focus on security, security, security and more security during the company's partner summit. The chatter triggered an in-depth look at Cisco's security strategy on ChannelE2E.

Arnie Bellini

November 2016, Part II: The next clue surfaced at IT Nation 2016 in Orlando, Fla. During a portion of ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini's keynote, he mentioned some basic steps for building a managed security services practice.

November 2016: A reality check arrived when The 2112 Group's Larry Walsh warned the industry that security isn't easy money. Many partners, he pointed out, wouldn't have the chops to become security experts. Larry is right.

And Then Comes 2017

We thought about all of that 2016 chatter for a bit. We figured MSPs, VARs and customers who couldn't master security on their own would need to find and engage MSSPs. The race was on to build MSSP Alert.

February 2017, Part I: ChannelE2E takes a look at Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Managed Security Service Providers. Frankly, small partners don't have the resources to compete with those giants. They'll need to find midsize MSSP partners. Hmmm...

Arlin Sorensen
Scott Scrogin

February 2017, Part II: We check in with HTG CEO Arlin Sorensen and President Scott Scrogin. We ask about key themes that emerged as part of the group's Q1 meetings in Phoenix. Much of the conversation involved the Entrepreneur's Journey. But Sorensen also mentioned growing chatter about the MSSP sector.

Steve Pataky

February 2017, Part III: We listen some more during RSA Conference 2017 in San Francisco. We met with top executives and channel chiefs from Barracuda Networks, Cisco Systems, Palo Alto Networks, SonicWall, Sophos, Webroot and more. Palo Alto confirms that they're testing an MSSP Partner Program. SonicWall says an MSP partner program is on the way... built especially for MSPs that want to become MSSPs.

February 2017, Part IV:  RSA Conference ends. Amy and I talk. We agree that partners and businesses outside the channel crave guidance in the MSSP market. We move our plan from the whiteboard to the R&D room. Our developers start building MSSP Alert. Quietly.

March 2017: We study what we're going to need to potentially launch MSSP Alert. We discuss -- at length -- workloads, opportunities and challenges. We chart the path forward. We pencil in late May 2017 for an official site launch...

Nancy Williams and Jan Spring

March 1, 2017: ChannelE2E reports that Jan Spring and Nancy Williams are joining Carvir, an emerging MSSP that brings enterprise-class securing products and services down to the SMB channel. Spring and Williams are well-known in the MSP and VAR ecosystem. We're pleased to see them join Carvir and bet the house on managed security shortly before MSSP Alert's launch.

March 16, 2017: It's late in the evening. And I start drafting the very blog you're reading right now. We also recruit contributors to write for the site, and they're kind enough to keep the project a secret.

Late April 2017: Amy begins to speak with a handful of potential sponsors. We get buy-in from some very strategic technology companies ahead of our launch date.

Launch MSSP Alert Early?

May 12, 2017: The WannaCry Ransomware attack spreads across roughly 100 countries. MSSP Alert is fully built but hidden behind a site password. We're tempted to launch early. But we remind ourselves: This is a long-term strategy. With each IT platform shift (mainframes --> minicomputers --> PCs --> LANs --> Client-Server --> Web --> Cloud & Mobile) the security challenge becomes more difficult. MSSP Alert must therefore maintain the long-term view. We keep the site password in place and remain in stealth mode. For now.

May 22, 2017, 5:00 p.m. ET: We turn off the site password. A few dozen sources who know about the site may finally reach it. We'll tell the rest of the world tomorrow.

May 23, 2017: MSSP Alert's official site launch announcement will surface later today. Thanks for joining us on Day One. And thank you to the sponsors who believed in our vision before a single reader visited the site.

That's the back-story. Now, let's march forward.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.