Could a Managed Service Provider be Right for Your Organization? How to Choose a Managed Services Provider for Your Network Operations Center (NOC).

For most organizations and businesses, 80% of IT resources are dedicated to managing the tedious time consuming tasks of operations. Maintenance, troubleshooting networks, fixing outages, reacting to downtime, upgrading software, patching and dealing with bugs, and hardware and technological issues are consuming IT departments. How often does your IT dept. have to put aside critical projects to put out fires? Are you able to track the amount of time your IT dept. has spent on managing your network operations center (NOC)? What is your organization doing to curb costly infrastructure investments? How are you managing your IT resource deficiency?

Best Practices Criteria for Evaluating an MSP


Managed Service is becoming an area that IT departments worldwide are quickly exploring. Although outsourcing IT services can save money, time, and contribute to your overall bottom line, IT departments can’t take this decision lightly. It’s important to note that an MSP’s failures can also present substantial risks for an organization including potential data loss, privacy breach, and lost revenues. MSPs overall relieve IT departments of many significant but costly responsibilities. Managed services typically include advanced monitoring, enhanced security, data storage, and industry-leading technical expertise. That’s why taking the time to thoroughly research and investigate prospective providers is such a worthwhile investment. While evaluating an MSP vendor as a technology partner, you will likely find a wide variety of providers to consider. How do you evaluate these providers and their service offerings to make the best match? Here are four key things to consider.

1. Proven Experience, Track Record, and Security Operations Capabilities

The last thing your organization needs is to have an MSP that’s inexperienced or is trying to be all things to all people. You need an MSP that has a direct and proven experience in the IT services you’ve decided to outsource. If your network is being monitored by the MSP Network Operations Center (NOC), does the MSP have their own (NOC) or do they outsource it? Does their service agreement align with your business requirements? It is important that the services outlined by the prospective MSP are a good fit for the IT service you are looking to outsource and the provider is equipped to deliver on their commitments. Are their remote support in-house employees of the vendor you are engaging or are they outsourced contractors? Would there be enough oversight of the support centers to guarantee that your network is being monitored and maintained responsibly? Unavailable or hap hazard service can negatively affect your organization’s profitability and impact on the operation of your network.

To work with an MSP and enjoy value in a favorable, long-term relationship, long-term viability is critical. A key to a long-term viability is a track record. How long has the MSP been in business and what does their customer base look like? If the MSP has made it through the past 5-10 years, they must be doing something right.

2. Service Offerings

It is also important to gauge the MSP’s sophistication in technology, security infrastructure, and performance in the industry. MSPs should be looking ahead to find new technological developments to ensure that the potential impact of those new technologies are being considered for their organization as well as clients. Is the vendor’s NOC facility utilizing state-of-the-art technology? Without a properly deployed, current-technology NOC, it is likely that businesses and organizations are spending more than necessary and are getting less security than they should.

All MSPs should be leveraging a suite of applications to deliver services to their clients. In order to effectively manage and monitor an NOC, managed service providers need to select a capable network management software, reporting software, and notification software. Security experts believe that SIEM technology, with its ability to automate log monitoring, correlation, pattern recognition, alerting, and forensic investigations has emerged as a central nervous system for gathering, generating, and optimizing IT intelligence. Utilizing a SIEM can help an NOC control, respond to, and prevent threats impacting their environment around the clock. A SIEM can also provide valuable operational efficiency in any organization, especially with large enterprises. Global Security Magazine stated that “SIEM can provide the security leap-frog in a world of point solution–to ensure there are no blind spots in your network security architecture. The SIEM system also was designed to be the single ‘console’ in which the administrator would get both total situational and context-awareness.” How do you know if your MSP is really earning your business? This comes through automated and customized reporting. A good offering includes detailed monthly reports about service provided, maintenance completed, and the total security posture and health of your network.

3. Certified Professions, Support Assistance, and Guaranteed Response Time


Success truly is about the people managing, monitoring, and maintaining your network. How much assistance does the MSP offer? It is essential to identify the staff members or people who will be your account manager and technical support. Who will be your day-to-day contacts? What is their experience and approach to communication? Will the NOC be monitored by experienced and certified network security analysts to ensure your data and infrastructures are secure and protected? Make sure that you are not left with junior team members still learning.

Guaranteed response time and unlimited support around-the-clock is also a must to any MSP service offerings. How quickly will the MSP respond during regular hours, after-hours, on weekends, and on holidays? Most managed services packages include support provided by email, web, phone, and remote access, but it’s crucial to note that most MSPs do not run a night and weekend shift. 


4. Honesty and Clarity in Services Provided. With Whom do They Partner?

Obtaining honesty and clarity in terms of services provided can give valuable and crucial insights on the MSP before moving forward with any service level agreements or contracts. These agreements should guarantee overall network uptime and response resolution times for network issues. Do the provider’s claims sound too good to be true? Are they well-defined? Is the MSP upfront on the services that are included in the overall service cost and what are one-time expenses? What will the MSP handle and what are their obligations regarding service level agreements? Does the MSP outsource part of their operations to a third party or external provider? Will they outsource any parts of your network infrastructure to other third-party providers? It is critical that the MSP is clear about accountability and commitments regarding potential issues that may surface involving multiple parties. It is also recommended that organizations ask probing questions regarding the MSP external partners, where they are located, and how long they have been working together.

Conclusion

Selecting the best MSP technology partner for your organization can be a substantial task. There are many providers from which to select and different capabilities, services, and support models to evaluate. Asking the right questions can give you the best odds of selecting an MSP that will help your organization and more importantly save you time, money, and aggravation. The strength of an MSP overall is determined by the skill, industry expertise, and information security knowledge of its staff members, especially those who have designed the NOC and manage the network services. This has led many leading organizations to turn to Tactical FLEX, Inc. to help bridge the gap between IT resource deficiency and to build a successful defense against today’s evolving cyber threats. Tactical FLEX, Inc. has been building information security, vulnerability, and risk management solutions since 2003 and can effectively manage, maintain, and monitor your Network Operations Center (NOC) around the clock while keeping up with the latest security threats and meeting privacy and security regulations. Protecting, monitoring, and assisting over 6,000 customers worldwide, Tactical FLEX, Inc. believes that security is not a one-time purchased product but a process that is continually changing as technology evolves. For nearly a decade, Tactical FLEX, Inc. has been developing products and services that evolve in parallel with industry and general technology advancements.

Through our state-of-the-art Network Security Operations Center (NSOC) managed service offering, we do the following for our customers:

1. Reduce operating expenses and infrastructure costs.

2. Accelerate detection of security threats, risks, and vulnerabilities around the clock, thereby improving security posture.

3. Focus on the core business.

4. Produce a robust SIEM infrastructure and eliminate investment to grow operational skills to manage SIEM technology.

Our NSOC managed services provide customers with the following:

1. Proactive support, with real time 24/7 monitoring and management.

2. Keeping network systems up to date with the latest revisions, patches, upgrades, and information security technology, thereby minimizing downtime.

3. The capability to reduce staff, operational costs, and complexity in your IT infrastructure.

4. Ensuring more stable, reliable, and secure business processes.

5. Delivering enhanced actionable intelligence on how your available IT resources can be most efficiently implemented and deployed.

6. Delivering greater options for advancing strategic IT initiatives, by eliminating tedious operational tasks that often consume available technology resources.

For more information on Tactical FLEX, Inc. NSOC Management and Monitoring Services and NSOC Development Lab, please visit http://www.aanval.com/nsoc.

About Tactical FLEX, Inc.

For nearly a decade, Tactical FLEX, Inc. has taken great pride in providing best-of-breed security solutions to every type of organization around the world. Our wide spectrum of customers demonstrates our sincere commitment to an industry that remains at the forefront of the digital evolution of the world. Information security is our business, and our customers are our greatest asset. Tactical FLEX, Inc. is a trusted security vendor protecting more than 6,000 organizations within every industry in more than 100 countries. Our product Aanval ® is the industry’s most comprehensive end-to-end SIEM-based Snort and Suricata IDS solution, built with a unique Situational Awareness engine, distinct false-positive protection technology, and a fully-integrated event management and attack data correlation engine. Learn more about Aanval SAS™ by visiting http://www.aanval.com.

We invite you to visit our Industry Focus page at http://www.aanval.com/industry to find out how our products and services can aid securing your valuable assets and information. The Industry Focus website section was created to provide information security professionals a more expansive perspective on the security needs and challenges facing their industries. Every organization, regardless of specific industry, is facing similar and ever-increasing network and inter-network related security threats. Our products and services are designed not only for the important facets of the industries shown below, but for every organization with a network or internet connection.

Aanval® is also available for download as a free Community edition for testing and evaluation at http://www.aanval.com/download. Let Aanval SAS™ turn your security event data into actionable and comprehensive insights.