Exciting Times for MSPs

Guildford, Surrey based Managed Services Provider Highlight grew out of a consultancy business which advised customers like the Bank of England, Inmarsat and Disney on managing data network performance. 18 years on, that company today provides a single pane of glass cloud-based offering to MSPs as Sales & Marketing Director Edmund Cartwright explains.

Comms Business Magazine (CBM): In a nutshell, how would you describe your offering?

Edmund Cartwright (EC): Highlight monitors and measures network and application performance in relation to one another, delivering value to both the Managed Service Providers (MSP) and their corporate customers.

Through a screen based wallboard) heat tiles represent the real-time status of each location or applications service and are a combination of many monitored elements summarised as three key metrics: stability, load and health.

CBM: How do heat tiles work and what other network indicators are available?

EC: Firstly, the heat tile function as traffic lights, they are intelligent and ensure that a single incident does not immediately change the tile colour but instead looks for issues which show a persistent theme.

Additionally there are Strip Charts enables business decision makers with a high-level summary of their network and applications to support discussions between MSPs and their customers at the right level. Operations help desk staff have additional click-throughs for the deeper technical detail in the form of strip charts and detail pages. This reduces mean time to repair (MTTR) with rapid troubleshooting which leads to a much improved customer experience.

Alerts, which are easy to use and set up, can trigger immediate emails to notify all Account Managers, Service Managers, Operations Engineers and corporate customer contacts of problems with network or application services.

These can be easily defined as to when, how, and to whom notifications are sent. Sending inside or outside of business hours, to mailing lists or multiple email addresses to ensure best practice account and service management.

Alert creation is unlimited and it’s possible to mute / exclude alerts if required. Watches set to maintenance do not send alerts nor change the colour of heat tiles. This powerful feature enables Managed Service Providers to go beyond the SLA and deliver an unrivalled customer experience.

There is of course a full reporting service that can be configured to meet business needs.

CBM: With more and more business applications migrating to the cloud has resulted in their performance coming under greater scrutiny. Are you monitoring apps as well?

EC: Application awareness is available via our AppVis screen and provides the ability to quickly identify all the applications on the user network, understand how vital services are performing and monitor the growing use of unauthorised cloud applications.

Highlight will also detect all wireless access points after a controller is configured and will provide insight into the performance of business-critical applications, wherever they’re hosted, to benefit both business users and technical teams.

CBM: What, in your opinion, does 2019 hold for MSPs?

EC: We see the continuance of a strong trend towards the managed services model. There are many thousands of MSPs in the UK and they fall in to effectively two types.

One camp is keen to focus on differentiation from the many thousands of MSPs and gain competitive advantage and is looking at technology to bundle with their services to give them that edge.

The other camp continues as they have for the last decade supplying ‘the same stuff’. They have not radically shifted on service management and help desk support for last 10-15 years. As a result their customers still not getting the experience they are looking for.

What we do is an enabler for MSPs. For instance, when they sell a service, for example Gamma Horizon, Highlight reporting and monitoring is built in. Gamma is a flagship partner (others include Telstra, Verizon, Interoute and Daisy) where a reseller can extend that value to their customers – upstream and downstream – the same as for corporate users. Trusted advisor has been missing in MSP.

Is it a good time to be an MSP? It’s very exciting time to be MSP! It’s a buoyant, fast moving and aggressive market where the challenge is to retain customers.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine