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View from the Channel

With Jason Howells, Director International at Barracuda MSP

Barracuda MSP, the MSP-dedicated business unit of Barracuda Networks, provides IT service providers with security and data protection via a purpose-built MSP technology and billing platform. Combining network, application and email security with backup and recovery, its offering includes hardware, software, virtual and cloud solutions, all of which can be integrated with leading PSA and RRM tools, including Barracuda’s own Managed Workplace RMM. Technology Reseller asked Jason Howells, Director International, for his view from the channel.

Technology Reseller (TR): How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?

Jason Howells (JH): Business right now is certainly different to 12 months ago. The last few months have brought new challenges and caused us all to think about things differently. Cybercrime has been on the rise, putting pressure on businesses as they adapt to new ways of working, and we have been – and continue to be – very busy in helping our customers and partners to stay safe during this change. What has been very impressive is the agility and resilience Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have shown in meeting the needs and expectations of customers, bearing in mind that they changed almost overnight and needed a rapid response. This has built trust in the MSP community and gives me confidence about future growth, especially for MSPs that understand the importance of security.

TR: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?

JH: Email is one of the biggest security threat vectors – phishing attacks have increased significantly – and the need for a multi-layered approach to protect employees and businesses is front and centre stage. In our recent survey for Global MSP Day, The Evolving Landscape of the MSP Business – 2020, 91% of the MSPs that responded said they were planning to increase the breadth and depth of their services capacity in the next 12 months. I believe this is being driven by customers’ needs around security; they are looking for a trusted adviser that has security expertise to cover their own shortfalls in this area.

TR: Where is business proving most difficult?

JH: Right now, the landscape is constantly changing and it’s hard to see businesses in some verticals suffer so much from the Covid crisis. We have solutions and services that can help organisations of all sizes, from all verticals, and we are working hard to help as many businesses as we can. But the sad reality is that some will simply not make it through.

As we come out of this crisis, Barracuda MSP can help customers position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that will follow as the economy builds momentum. In our new report, 69% of MSPs confirmed that the biggest opportunity for increasing sales in the coming year will be to sell more managed services. This is a significant increase on last year’s MSP Day report.

TR: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?

JH: We have moved to an almost 100% remote working environment; we have changed the way we communicate internally, as well as with our partners and customers; and all of our events have moved to a virtual platform and achieved a good level of attendance. Our most recent event on May 21, Global MSP Day 2020, was the first time we have hosted this virtually, but it was still a great success. We are also working hard to ensure our products and services are available and easy to buy, deploy and manage, whilst continuing to provide the best support and to remain focused on helping the world to be a safer place.

TR: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?

JH: In the current Covid environment, there are many new challenges for the channel to consider. Overall, I would say the biggest is staying relevant to customers’ needs. The good news is that our latest research on the MSP landscape shows that almost all MSPs are aware that they need to evolve their offerings in order to stay relevant.

TR: Are customers becoming more demanding, and if so, in what ways?

JH: Customers aren’t becoming more demanding, but they are struggling to keep up with an ever evolving and more sophisticated threat landscape. Our research shows that a lack of in-house skills within end user customers is making it necessary to turn to third parties for advice and help. So, choosing the right partnerships is important. That’s equally true for my customers, our MSP partners, as it is for their customers.

TR: If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be and why?

JH: To be honest, right now I would love not to have to get on yet another Zoom or Teams call…Don’t get me wrong, they serve a purpose extremely well and communication is excellent across my team and also with our customers, which is really important to me. However, nothing beats being face to face, shaking hands and sharing experiences. I hope it’s not too long before we get back to that.

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TechnologyReseller: 2021