What Defines a Full Service MSSP?

The use case for the MSSP has been well documented.  Key benefits of the service model consistently mentioned in research are cost effectively getting, and keeping the right people for the job.  It’s hard for businesses to attract and retain top talent, “in house”; the simpler path is to align with a trusted security provider and leverage their expertise.  Additionally, external threats are increasing in frequency and becoming more complicated; using a sophisticated third party makes a lot of sense.

The market is determining that the MSSP model is an effective tool for customers of all sizes, but how does a company differentiate which MSSP is right for their needs?  The answer to this question is complex and not easily satisfied in a single conversation, but the ultimately (like all business decisions) will be determined based on a balance of product, price, and, service.

If we assume the products you are offering your clients are well thought out and positioned, and price can be accommodated, then we can isolate service.  Service is a critical piece of the puzzle because of the trust that businesses are bestowing on the MSSP with their core business information.

Service, can be defined by many different indicators, and is often somewhat amorphous and intangible.  From a standpoint of measurability, the SLA offered to the end user is an important tool that carries economic implications.

Focus on the SLA and performance, based on uptime and real time access is critical no matter what size the MSSP.   As the key indicator of measurable effectiveness, the SLA is the benchmark by which you and you client agree on what is, “good service”.   

Economics will define how the service delivery model is structured and what is put into place to maintain continuity.  If you’re managing multiple sites and a distributed architecture, the MSSP is essentially welcomed in by the client to offer onsite expertise from afar.  The ability to extend the reach of the SOC to the client is the real value offered.  If the service provider cannot effectively access the client site from afar, the system begins to break down.  

An important, yet often overlooked piece of the puzzle is secondary access to remote locations.  Most times it’s not economically viable or permissible to post personnel at client sites, yet access to equipment under duress is critical.  How does your operation access remote sites if key components of infrastructure fail?  Do you use a VLAN to access equipment? What’s your operations procedure if the network is compromised or underperforming?  Do you have a standardized approach to secondary access or is it the client’s responsibility?  If your offering is governed by a Service Level, relying on your customer to provide secondary access puts you in a precarious position, regardless of SLA parameters.

Many top flight providers have elected to put in place a secured Out-of-Band management system at remote client locations.  A modest investment ensures that access to the remotes is available in an organized, secure fashion, and that in times of equipment or network issues, the client site remains available.  The ability to put, “hands on” equipment to power cycle, reconfigure, or access for maintenance, is very attractive when performance is monitorized by service levels

Look to ensure your operation has the steps in place to maintain access to your clients; this planning will not only protect SLA’s but also client help boost overall customer satisfaction.