Business & Technology
Communication service providers (CSPs) are looking to increase the value they provide to their small-to-midsize business (SMB) and enterprise customers. Many want to branch out, offering additional services beyond basic connectivity. Their goals in such an expansion are to increase customer stickiness, generate new revenue streams, and continue to meet customers’ needs in the evolving digital economy.
Meeting these objectives is pushing many CSPs to add managed security services to their portfolio of offerings. The same pressures are driving many established managed security service providers (MSSPs) to transform their service portfolio.
One trend in the MSSP space is the expanding range of services these firms provide and an overall desire to provide business outcomes that customer are demanding. Previously, many MSSPs offered only firewall-based security services. Some now are beginning to differentiate themselves from the competition by supporting corporate clients in every facet of security.
Their offerings may include everything from virtual private networks (VPNs) to data center virtualization, from software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) to SD-Branch, and from endpoint protection to web application firewalls. Further, as companies in every industry undergo digital transformation, it is critical for full-service MSSPs to offer multi-cloud security. Threat intelligence and advanced threat protection—through sandboxing, security information and event management (SIEM), and other capabilities—are also crucial in combating ever-more-sophisticated threats.
As they expand their portfolio of offerings, MSSPs need to keep an eye on the efficiency of their service delivery. Employing automation wherever possible, as well as orchestration among solutions, is increasingly important. Improving efficiency enables MSSPs to scale up more easily, as deployment of security to additional systems consumes minimal staff resources. More efficient operations can also reduce time to market because adding new services does not necessarily require the service provider to add staff with specific skills and expertise. Automation can even lead to customer empowerment if harnessed by an MSSP to give customers direct access to information about their security environment, or even the ability to make certain decisions about security settings.
In addition to providing a wider range of technology-focused services, many MSSPs are starting to offer consulting services. They may branch out into vulnerability and penetration testing, digital forensics and risk monitoring, and malware code analysis. These types of value-added services must be built on a solid foundation of effective and efficient security technologies, both to ensure the accuracy of information being analyzed and to minimize the staff time consumed by rote security tasks.
As an MSSP’s services portfolio broadens, vendor selection becomes increasingly important. Some MSSPs choose a different vendor for each type of security functionality. Selecting the lowest-priced solution in each category may make sense in the short term. However, the MSSP may eventually end up working with 5, 10, or even 30 different vendors. Managing so many relationships consumes an inordinate amount of time for security staff. Moreover, an assortment of only loosely integrated technologies inhibits the MSSP’s ability to build watertight security. The more point products there are in an infrastructure, the less likely they will be to share information about threat detection and mitigation efforts in a timely manner. This not only impacts customer satisfaction and security, but the MSSP’s profitability as well.
The most effective security infrastructure is built on tightly integrated solutions that share real-time threat intelligence. That is where the Fortinet Security Fabric comes in. The Security Fabric integrates both Fortinet and third-party solutions into a close-knit ecosystem. This approach enables systems across the MSSP’s portfolio to coordinate threat detection and response, for faster and more effective mitigation of risk. Inclusion of threat intelligence from FortiGuard Labs further enhances Security Fabric solutions’ ability to defend against unknown threats.
Another benefit is that the built-in integration and automation of Fortinet Security Fabric solutions give MSSPs’ staff easier, faster, and more complete visibility into vulnerabilities and threats across the network. They can use a single interface to manage a wide range of security components, which can substantially improve productivity. As a result, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is significantly lower over time for MSSPs that take a Security Fabric approach, compared with those that choose the lowest-cost products for each security niche.
Fortinet’s suite of security solutions and the Fortinet Security Fabric architecture provide the foundation for a secure MSS infrastructure to deliver profitable and advanced services across markets and verticals, including SD-WAN, hybrid cloud security and automation, secure WiFi and switching, advanced threat protection, Internet of Things (IoT)/operational technology (OT) visibility and security, and more.
Such a services infrastructure enables an MSSP to cover a wide range of IT security use cases. At the same time, by streamlining security management, it enables MSSPs to provide a simple and efficient customer experience. Finally, the solid foundation of a cohesive fabric of solutions prepares a service provider to evolve toward the MSSP 2.0 model, in which its portfolio will include higher-margin value-added consulting services.
 Zeus Kerravala, “How to Enable Digital Transformation and Improve ROI with Fortinet Security Fabric,” ZK Research, October 2017.