Posts Tagged ‘MSP’

Making DEP-loyments Easier with Systems Manager

If you have experience managing Apple devices in the enterprise, then you’ve probably used Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP), which helps administrators deploy Apple devices seamlessly throughout an organization.

Large organizations such as school districts, managed service providers, and business conglomerates often procure company-owned Apple devices through various entities which requires multiple DEP accounts. This can create a logistical nightmare when trying to deploy devices at scale.

Previously, admins could only manage one DEP server per organization in Systems Manager. This led to network admins having to create separate organizations in order to support multiple DEP servers.

Taking these user experiences into account, it is with great excitement that we announce that Systems Manager now supports Multi-DEP!

What does this mean for you?

Customers can now add, remove, and edit multiple DEP servers within the same organization in the Meraki dashboard. This gives more flexibility to deploy devices that are being procured under one subset. The experience will be more seamless, efficient, and granular; an admin can specify which DEP server should be visible  for management and syncing under each network.

For instance, a school district with 10 schools can manage all of the 10 schools under one organization, with each school network having its own DEP server. Similarly, a managed service provider could manage different customers’ networks simultaneously, with each customer network mapped to its own DEP server.

For customers in education using Apple School Manager (ASM), the ASM sync can now also handle multiple DEP servers at the same time. When an ASM sync is initiated, it will automatically run for all DEP servers assigned to that network. DEP servers will now sync in-the Apple server display name, and the Meraki dashboard will display that metadata along with a timestamp of the last update of the DEP server.

If you are already using Systems Manager, give it a try today by going to Organization > MDM in the Meraki dashboard to see the new ‘Apple DEP Servers’ section. Let us know what you think of it; we love getting feedback!

If you would like to learn more about Systems Manager, join us for an upcoming webinar (where you can qualify to earn free System Manager licenses), or call the Meraki sales line to start a risk-free evaluation.

 

3 Challenges MSPs Face in Expanding their Service Offerings

Consultative

When managed service providers (MSPs) first burst onto the scene in the 1990s, they typically only provided break-fix support for a limited number of services, like printers, anti-virus, and networking, to small- and medium-sized businesses. Since then, as the number of cybersecurity threats has grown and the “bring your own device” phenomenon has increased in popularity, SMBs’ needs have also diversified. No longer are SMBs content to have their MSPs fix things when they break; SMBs now expect you to provide more proactive, consistently managed services.

One constant challenge MSPs have faced is evolving and expanding their service offerings. Clients want their MSPs to serve as a one-stop-shop for all things IT, but with clients unaware of which services they actually need and MSPs flummoxed at the difficulty of managing tons of vendor relationships, this kind of service expansion is easier said than done.

Below are a few reasons MSPs find it difficult to expand their service offerings, along with actionable approaches you can take to address these challenges and serve your clients in the best way possible.

1. Lack of client interest

Small business owners with fewer than 10 employees typically enlist the help of MSPs because they’re laser-focused on growing their business rather than on managing the technology they use everyday. MSPs, happy to oblige, often deploy and administer new solutions, from networking to backup and disaster recovery services, without educating their clients on why these technologies are actually important.

Though MSPs often mean well — “why should I bother educating my clients when they want me to be their tech expert?” — leaving clients in the dark has a critical downside. Lack of client input on which solutions are deployed and how they’re managed can make clients feel like they aren’t being listened to and that their particular needs aren’t being considered.

More importantly, taking the time to educate clients can actually spark conversations about problems and solutions that otherwise wouldn’t have come up.

Say, for example, you tell your clients about the importance of network security to defend against ransomware. That conversation may cause a concerned SMB business owner to ask, “What if ransomware infiltrates one of my employee’s devices when it’s not connected to the secure corporate network?” This would be the right opportunity to explore a potential solution to such a situation — perhaps an enterprise-grade managed backup solution with the ability to roll back the entire file system to a time before the ransomware hit.

Congratulations: by enlisting a consultative approach, you’ve gotten a client interested in additional managed services, without even having to bring it up yourself. Helping clients understand why new types of managed services makes sense makes it much easier for MSPs to justify expanding their service offerings and generate demand for them.

2. Fear of overextension and appearing unfocused

When first establishing themselves, most managed service providers focus on a single niche (for example, providing stellar data protection services). Over time, this focus helps successful MSPs slowly establish a steady roster of loyal clients, but it can also lead MSP business owners to believe that expanding into new types of services is a risky and unwise move. After all, what kind of business owner would want to risk diluting their brand and causing their clients to worry about less-than-stellar customer support?

In order to prevent customers from thinking that adding more managed services to your portfolio is akin to overextension, group these additional services under single “umbrella” solutions. To keep the earlier example going, say you already provide clients with data protection services, like backup and disaster recovery, and want to add networking to your managed services portfolio. Normally, these solutions may not seem similar, but if as a part of the networking stack you implement a network security solution like a managed firewall, you can group both the solutions under the umbrella of “security.”

In this way, you still appear focused, even as the addition of more managed services increases the depth of your expertise and helps differentiate you among other MSPs.

3. Difficulty in multi-service and multi-tenant management

It’s not easy being an MSP business owner. Between dealing with technical emergencies and trying to build a business from the ground-up, there are a lot of tasks to juggle and often too few hours in the day to get it all done. Some MSPs find expanding their service offerings to be more trouble than it’s worth because of the difficulty involved in working with multiple vendors and multiple clients with varying needs.

Dealing with multiple vendor relationships often proves challenging for both administrative and technical reasons. For every new vendor, there’s a new account rep to keep track of, a new support system to navigate, and new contract/licensing terms to abide by. That makes new vendor relationships difficult to manage from a purely logistical perspective. From a technical standpoint, every new system has a different dashboard or commands used for setup and configuration. Managing disparate solutions adds needless complexity and can quickly suck up time, especially if a solution requires on-site management.

Since most clients require different IT managed services, dealing with multiple vendor relationships is usually a necessary evil. That is, of course, unless you partner with a vendor that offers multiple IT services managed under a single pane of glass.

Cisco Meraki helps managed service providers deploy a complete suite of IT solutions to their small business clients without having to deal with multiple vendors or proprietary command line-based interfaces. Meraki offers cloud-managed access points, switching, security appliances, telephones, video cameras, and even enterprise mobility management, all managed through a cloud-based dashboard. With Meraki, MSPs have the choice of managing everything for their clients or giving more technically-inclined clients limited control through a custom-branded dashboard.

Download the MSP Dashboard white paper to learn how Meraki makes it simple for MSPs to offer cloud-managed IT services to their small business clients.

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New features help MSPs manage end customer networks

We’ve got some great tools for managed services providers (MSPs) who offer Cisco Meraki’s wireless, switching, security appliance, and MDM as a service to their end customers. These tools address common MSP challenges around managing end customer networks, optimizing costs, transitioning customer networks to a hosted service quickly, and scaling those networks as needed.

Today, we’re excited to announce additional, new features for MSPs:

  • MSP Portal: A central location for staff to monitor all of their Cisco Meraki end customer networks over the web
  • Support ticketing: Create, monitor, and respond to support cases with Cisco Meraki staff
  • Custom branding: MSPs can brand the Cisco Meraki dashboard and summary reports to reinforce their brand message to end customers

These new features, combined with the built-in end-­to-­end visibility and control provided by Cisco Meraki’s cloud management platform, provide powerful ways for MSPs to keep their customer networks up-­to-­date and centrally managed.

 

MSP Portal

The new MSP portal, built into the Cisco Meraki dashboard, gives MSPs a single location to evaluate end customers’ licensing compliance and networked devices.

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Easily manage licensing compliance and end customer network devices using the MSP Portal.

From the MSP portal page, click into any of your managed customer networks and use Cisco Meraki’s Live Tools to remotely troubleshoot appliances; or use the dashboard to monitor users, devices, and application traffic, set group­based policies, update licensing, and manage customers’ device inventory. You get end-­to-­end visibility of your customers’ networks from any Internet-accessible location—whether that’s at a NOC/SOC or your field offices.

 

Support ticketing

Keeping track of support cases across multiple end customer networks can be daunting, but we simplify things with a central location to create, monitor, and respond to troubleshooting tickets alongside Cisco Meraki staff. Cases are organized so that sorting cases by end customer—even down to individual customer networks—is easy.

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Sort troubleshooting tickets by priority, status, case number, date created, or support engineer.

With Cisco Meraki support ticketing, you can keep track of relevant emails, files, and case descriptions for a particular problem within a single ticket and prioritize cases based on severity.

Custom branding

As the networking provider and primary support for end customers, MSPs need the ability to reinforce their brand message when administrators access the network. As part of the MSP Dashboard, Cisco Meraki will work with our partners to put a custom logo on both the main dashboard and summary emails that are sent to end customers.

Cost optimization

Reducing operational costs is a key challenge for MSPs, who must typically build out end customer network infrastructure, adjust for vendor licensing costs, and provide tech support for issues that arise. With Cisco Meraki, our cloud­-hosted management infrastructure eliminates the need for MSPs to build out data centers or host wireless LAN controllers and similar infrastructure. Our simple licensing scheme, which includes all product tech support, maintenance, and feature updates, streamlines cost models. Finally, our intuitive, cloud­-based dashboard allows engineers to remotely troubleshoot devices and reduces staff training hours.

On-­demand scalability

It’s easy to quickly transition end customer networks to Cisco Meraki. All of our gear allows for zero­touch configuration, with no onsite IT staff needed for deployment. Adding network devices is as simple as entering an order number into the Cisco Meraki dashboard—there is no device limit, throughput limit, or backend configuration necessary. Our datacenters are designed from the ground up to scale your customers’ networks to millions of attached devices—and we have built­-in redundancy across multiple geographies, all with a 99.99% uptime SLA.

If you’d like more details on these new MSP features—and additional benefits Cisco Meraki provides vis­-à-­vis managing end customer networks—please read our new MSP white paper.