I’m sure, like most people reading this blog, the past two-plus years for me were mainly spent in front of my computer, talking with my colleagues, customers, and prospects over Zoom (or your video conferencing provider of choice). So when the opportunity to attend the MSSP Alert Live event in Washington, DC came my way, I hopped on it. While I did attend our Open XDR Summit earlier this year, this was the first time I would have the opportunity to “man the booth” and talk with a new audience. Hosted at the historic Watergate Hotel just off the Potomac, MSSP Alert Live brought together thought leaders, practitioners, and industry leaders to discuss the latest topics and trends impacting the delivery of security services. First off, hats off to the team from MSSP Alert, the event was well thought out, and from my discussions with attendees, the presentations were informative, engaging, and just about the right length. After three days of lively discussions, demonstrations, and more than my share of coffee, I returned home reflecting on what I saw and heard about the event. Here are a few things that I think are noteworthy.
The “S” is for security
While I talked with many MSSPs looking to upgrade the security stack they use to deliver MDR, XDR, and other security services to their customers, there were quite a few MSPs in attendance. The answer to “what brought you here?” from these MSPs had a common theme; their customers are encouraging them (eagerly) to take on responsibility for securing the customer’s environment. To that end, many discussions with MSPs revolved around the decision to either expand their teams and tech stack to offer SOC services or find an MSSP partner. It might seem like partnering with an established MSSP is the no–brainer decision (and for most, it is), but for some MSPs making the long-term investment in their own SOC is the way to go. No matter which way the MSP decides to go, we can and have helped them to meet this new customer requirement. I expect this trend to continue until the pure-play MSP is a rare sight.
“Open” for Business
If you are reading this blog, you probably know Stellar Cyber is an Open XDR Platform that delivers six different products in a single platform with a single license (shameless plug). For some time now, we have had a defacto claim of being the only XDR that did not build on an existing EDR product. Our “Bring your own EDR” approach gives customers, and MSSPs, the ultimate flexibility to make changes to their underlying security stack without impacting our ability to deliver consistent security outcomes. Indeed, over the past few months, the “Open” term has become a staple on many security vendors’ websites, regardless if they offer an open solution. For example, at MSSP Alert Live, “Open” was a prominent part of more than a couple of vendors across the exhibit space. Now I am of two minds on this topic. On the positive side, the increased use of “Open” might indicate that we, as security vendors, are finally realizing the importance of working together to help our customers battle cyber attacks. While we might ultimately compete to win a customer’s business, there is no doubt in my mind that if vendors widely adopt this “open” approach, our industry and those that rely on it to keep their businesses secure will be the better for it. On the other hand, if vendors are simply trying to ride the “open” wave without fully committing to it, that would be another “bait and switch” move that would hurt everyone. Let’s hope my first thought is what is happening.
As I mentioned, this was my first “booth duty” assignment since pre-COVID. Before our world shut down, I was frequently on the road, talking with customers, presenting to prospects, and working with partners to ensure our message was clear and easy to understand. In short, I felt very connected to those who would ultimately use the products I was marketing. Slowly, however, over COVID, that connection began to fray. I did my best to keep the link intact via videoconference, but nothing beats human-to-human, face-to-face interactions. This week I felt that connection rebuilding. Indeed, technology has made our world smaller, with the ability to talk with someone thousands of miles away from the comfort of your own home, but I do hope live interactions like MSSP Alert become more the norm than the exception.