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SC MagazineWith small to midsize businesses moving in larger numbers to embrace the cloud for their business applications, managed services providers (MSPs) are employing new and varied methods of enhancing data security offerings to meet this growing market. Recent SMB Group research shows that about 92 percent of SMBs are now using at least one cloud business solution, and 87% of SMBs are using at least one cloud infrastructure solution. As mission-critical applications such as Microsoft Office 365 become ubiquitous, MSPs need to address the data security needs of companies that look to the providers not only to manage their applications, but application security as well.

While smaller companies must continuously balance compliance demands and customer expectations with ever evolving cyber-threats, they also generally have fewer resources available than do larger enterprises – making them even more dependent on their MSP partners. According to CompTIA's 4th Annual Trends in Managed Services, 47% of SMBs surveyed are leveraging MSPs for some degree of cyber-security service. Cloud providers today can offer SMBs a range of services they might otherwise not be able to afford on their own, such as reliable email archiving, email encryption, and the ability to send and receive large files.

Additionally, companies of all sizes need to be aware of emerging threats and have strategies to defend against them. This includes more than just the requisite antispam, antimalware and anti-virus capabilities; it includes the ability to identify and defend against zero-day attacks, targeted attacks and vulnerabilities that permit insiders to leak confidential data accidentally.

There are numerous point products that can provide greater security for corporate data that are available from a variety of vendors, but to meet the needs of SMBs, MSPs are looking to providers such as PineApp to provide comprehensive, world-class security offerings to their customers. Not all MSPs can meet this high level of service so it is essential that companies discuss these capabilities with their providers before they select their MSP. So much of the workplace is distributed today that companies and MSPs need more complex, varied and diverse solutions such as those provided by PineApp.

For companies using Office 365, Microsoft is expanding the product capabilities from its SMB roots to become more of an enterprise solution. At the annual Convergence EMEA conference in Barcelona in November, Microsoft added Skype Meeting Broadcast and other voice/meeting offerings to the product, along with analytics and data visualisation, and advanced security and compliance. Such capabilities can expand the reach of SMBs, but those users often depend on their MSP for service, support and consulting.

In a study, Forrester Consulting found widespread recognition of the importance of digital transformation in MSPs and the need to reshape their business around customer outcomes and desires. The innovations Microsoft announced in Barcelona are aimed at helping businesses achieve this by igniting new ways to collaborate and intelligently engage with customers, the company said.

The wide range of services required by SMBs, be they in North America or Europe, include spam and virus protection, email encryption and archiving, mail relay clustering and data leak prevention. For MSPs it is critical that these deployed solutions have a centralised management platform, multiple deployment options, 24/7 live technical support, granular reporting and flexibility for white-labeling/branding and pricing. In and of themselves, these features are not unique. However, finding a provider that offers all of these integrated into a world-class offering such as PineApp's product portfolio, does give companies and providers alike a plethora of options.


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