The Partner Opportunity Around Cloud-based Remote Work

By Jonathan Nguyen-Duy | January 18, 2022

As organizations progress into 2022, many will permanently support hybrid and remote work models. Even without a pandemic, the increased employee satisfaction and productivity that remote work offers is widely recognized. Accordingly, many organizations are increasing their usage of secure access solutions to improve resilience and ensure that their employees can access resources from anywhere. As this happens, partners have a unique opportunity to help their customers make the transition as smoothly and securely as possible.

The Need to Continue Remote Work

Employees have embraced remote working, so it should come as no surprise that many companies now plan to continue offering remote work options as an employee benefit. For example, according to one study, the top four concerns workforce members have are:

  • Physical health and fitness
  • Work/life balance
  • Mental/emotional help
  • Personal purpose

To retain employees and ensure productivity, organizations need to find the right balance between adopting and securing new technologies. For partners, this opens new opportunities as companies look for partners that can help them secure remote workforce models.

Remote Work’s Impact on the Technology Stack

While some organizations hope to return to “business as usual,” the meaning of the term “usual” has changed significantly over the last few years. Another study predicts that remote work will lead to the following corporate technology changes in 2022:

  • New software stacks that focus on productivity while offices are used for relationship building
  • Increased automation to overcome labor shortages
  • Software tools that facilitate human connection

As companies adopt these new technologies, their IT stacks become more dynamic and complex. Many of these solutions offer real-time collaboration capabilities, which also means they must connect with resources containing sensitive data.

Partners have a unique opportunity to offer products and services that ensure continued security and productivity. As infrastructure complexity increases, customers require a variety of offerings that help them manage on-premises data centers and cloud resources as well as flexible consumption models. This means that as MSPs and MSSPs look to grow their business, they must align their offerings to meet these shifting customer needs.

Providing the Right Security Stack

As customers try to future-proof their cloud-based remote work strategies, they require certain security capabilities and offerings that can help them rapidly mature their cybersecurity postures. With that in mind, MSPs and MSSPs should consider providing a tightly integrated solution that provides edge-to-edge visibility, integrating endpoint security, network security, and high-speed connectivity.

Extended Detection and Response (EDR)

With ransomware continuing to impact organizations, endpoint security is more important than ever. Remote work leads to increased endpoint security risks, especially when the cloud is involved. Remote workers are not only susceptible to phishing attacks and risky websites but, also insecure networks in homes, coffee shops and other remote locations. It’s easy to see why securing endpoints is now mission-critical.

Today’s extended detection and response (EDR) solutions are an effective way to reduce the attack surface, prevent malware infections, and detect or defuse threats in real time with automated response and remediation procedures. With these capabilities, partners can provide enhanced endpoint security that goes beyond traditional signature-based antivirus software and open new business opportunities in the form of integrated security and networking solutions.

Intelligent and Secure SD-WAN

Digital transformation and the digital marketplace mean that user experience is critical to ensuring business and mission outcomes.  We can no longer think about networking and security as separate silos. Indeed, to be successful, service providers will need to secure endpoints as well as ensure optimized network performance. With Secure SD-WAN, customers can integrate security and performance for remote work models. SD-WAN ensures continued network performance across cloud applications with centrally managed deployment and configurations for complete visibility, analytics, and reporting.

By adding SD-WAN services to their offerings, partners can help customers meet the challenges of their expanding attack surfaces. By providing an application-driven approach that builds security directly into networking, partners can help develop secure networks that are easily scalable.

This enables them to differentiate themselves across the crowded market. Offering integrated networking and security solutions provides consistent edge-to-edge performance for better outcomes and experiences. The result is more responsive networks, as well as security and applications that adapts to changes and ensures remote workforce productivity.

Security Operation Center (SOC) Services

As organizations move to permanent remote working options, the challenges of supporting hybrid deployments and managing telework security becomes increasingly difficult. Many organizations have small security teams or manage security with an IT team that often lacks security experience. In either case, it’s increasingly clear that these teams are not able to effectively scale their security operations and will need tools and staffing. The challenge is how to do this with limited resources and short timelines. 

For MSSPs, this is an opportunity to offer access to new technology and skilled security without the traditional upfront capital investment and hiring challenges. Service providers should consider offering managed security information and event management (SIEM) services and managed detection and response (MDR) services to help organizations access new products and overcome cybersecurity skills gap. Moving up the value chain, service providers will also have an opportunity to provide access to AI-driven threat intelligence and indicators of compromise (IOC) feeds that were traditionally only available to large companies and enterprise businesses. The key to offer flexible form factors and consumption models as a service - making advanced technologies and capabilities accessible to a large segment of the market. This is how service providers can create new value-added differentiated offerings along with accelerated revenue recognition.

Finding the Right Opportunities to Enhance Offerings

As MSPs and MSSPs look to the new year and the distributed networking changes brought on by the pandemic, they should be cognizant of the need for integrated networking and security in the form of Secure SD-WAN as table stakes. Building on that foundation with endpoint security, managed SIEM and MDR services offered with flexible consumption models creates new opportunities with accelerated revenue recognition. The market is growing rapidly, but not all service providers are equally positioned. The successful service providers will be the ones that can abstract the complexities of networking and security, while offering access to advanced technologies and highly skilled staff as a service. Therefore, they should consider a platform consolidation strategy with a handful of vendors that can offer integrated, service-provider specific capabilities, such as multi-tenancy.  

Although remote work existed prior to the pandemic, it has become more popular and mission-critical than ever before. Indeed, it is equally important for employees, customers and other stakeholders to have consistent network, security and application performance from any location. To be successful in this rapidly changing environment, service providers will need to offer flexible, integrated solutions that can readily adapt with the changing threat and workforce landscapes.


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