And why it is time for startups, small, and medium businesses to consider relying on service providers instead of hiring in-house talent.
IT and cybersecurity services are diverse and infinitely customizable. The needs of each organization always follow their unique business model and vision. With the diversity of products and solutions available in the market today, decision makers find it challenging to design the right, scalable, and cost-effective solution for their organization, especially if their background is from a different domain.
As a result, most business owners and decision makers tend to hire in-house talent, swaying the ROI meter when analyzing payroll vs. direct returns. Since IT administration is perceived as a set and forget type of task in some cases, or reactive/corrective function in others. This creates some strain in business environments where IT administrators feel like their time is not perfectly utilized, even wasted on superficial tasks like a laggy system or a troubleshooting case that could be easily guided by google for non-technical staff.
A brief history of IT and Cybersecurity Services in Egypt
MHE was founded in 2009. At that time, MHE identified as a system integrator, providing clients with turn-key IT and cybersecurity systems from Passive components to cybersecurity solutions. The business required signing partnerships with known and runner-up technology vendors and developers like Cisco, Trend Micro, SonicWall, Dell Technologies and Commscope among others. MHE's vision was to become a disruptive force in the ICT domain in Egypt, empowering the technical workforce with knowledge and support services first and foremost.
The standard operation was as follows:
Presales meeting with prospects to decide on system specifications and contingencies.
Obtaining needed approvals from NTRA (When needed)
Procurement through the authorized channels
Shipping and customs clearance
Setup and configuration
Installation and delivery
SLA retainer (Monthly check-ups + On call support and troubleshooting)
As you can tell, this cycle usually took weeks, even months in some cases, at a time when logistics and production were not affected by any external forces (Supply chain shortage + COVID). While it may seem like a straight-forward process, it took a lot of work from multiple professionals to make it happen. This is because an enterprise client could not obtain a product/solution directly from the technology provider. Point 3 of the previous list required multiple steps, usually imposed by the technology provider to ensure that only the authorized channels are contributing to the success of the product/solution delivery. This meant that a client had to:
Search for an authorized partner.
Ensure the partner is procuring the solution/product through an authorized local distributor.
The partner needed to be certified to ensure an effective deployment of the solution.
The local distributor had to procure the solution through the authorized regional distributor.
The client usually had to pay an agreed-upon percentage of the quoted price upfront and wait weeks or months for delivery.
How the supply-chain shortage affected the IT and Cybersecurity Services in Egypt:
The previous cycle throttled the business somehow, but it wasn't catastrophic. Sure, there was a lot of room for improvement, but the market seemed okay with it until late 2018/early 2019. Supply chain shortages affected local businesses significantly as local distributors found it challenging to replenish stocks. And shipping from regional distributors was challenged by the halt in international trade and logistics. COVID was a major event that was not on any business' radar or outlook. With COVID disrupting the very core of how businesses operated, the wide adoption of remote work and the emphasis on secure and reliable remote connections, IT and cybersecurity services providers in Egypt found it very challenging to sustain their businesses and a lot of system integrators sadly exited the market or shifted their business models.
Why MHE is introducing Managed IT and Cybersecurity services in Egypt:
The previous events prompted MHE's team t to adapt the service offering without affecting the core brand values of providing businesses with top notch IT and cybersecurity services in Egypt, and soon in North Africa and other markets in the middle east. After running several exercises and conducting the due diligence, MHE was certain that Managed IT and Cybersecurity services will empower local businesses and professionals like never before. It comes with multiple benefits to business owners and IT professionals alike and here is how:
The Benefits of Managed IT and Cybersecurity Services for business owners:
Cost-effective technology investment.
A full-fledged IT and cybersecurity team without the costly payload.
High quality support for their teams from certified helpdesk professionals
All-in-one, live, remote IT department
They get their own IT Director
Proactive remote monitoring of the newest threats and risk mitigation
Proactive remote management of endpoints to secure their threat perimeter.
Ensure working with authentic and secured software and tools, avoiding the risks of malicious or cracked copies.
Security for any of their teams' internet connected devices, anywhere in the world.
Flexible billing models that fit every business model.
Optimize IT and Cybersecurity spend in parallel with your
The Benefits of Managed Services for IT professionals and cybersecurity teams:
Focus on self-development and growth.
Get your own support staff for minor tasks (Troubleshooting, maintenance and updates)
Automate mundane and repetitive tasks (organization-wide policy deployments)
Stay ahead of the threats with tools that leverage AI and Machine Learning.
Gain in-depth visibility on your organization's assets and team members.
Receive periodic, actionable reports and recommendations to strengthen your organization's security posture.
What differentiates a Managed IT and Cybersecurity services provider from a traditional system integrator?
And how is it different from outsourcing?
A lot of system integrators in Egypt are now claiming to be MSPs or MSSPs.
But what truly sets an MSP/MSSP from a traditional IT Systems integrator who also offers a comprehensive post-sales support service?
The answer to this lies in the word PROACTIVE. To be able to gain remote visibility over a client's technology environment, be it on-premises, cloud-based or hybrid; an MSP/MSSP needs to deploy specialized tools that securely establishes a means for monitoring and managing regardless of where the monitored/managed node is.
Some technology providers enable resellers or partners like MHE to remotely manage a product/solution with a cloud-based tool, but this does not guarantee the ability of the appointed professional to stay ahead of the threats or take the needed action in time, simply because the proactive monitoring tool is missing.
Such tools are expensive, complex to deploy on the service-provider's end and require training and exercising before going-to-market. A service provider who relies on TeamViewer or AnyDesk to remotely support a client's environment is not a managed service provider and poses a risk on the client's environment in such a case.
Outsourcing is a frowned upon practice in IT and Cybersecurity in general, since it poses a lot of conflicts between service providers/users. The most obvious of which is the need to physically attend to the location of the client whenever a need presents itself. Outsourced IT Services providers usually find themselves driving around between one client's HQ to the other, due to the lack of support tools that enable them to securely support the client's needs from a remote location. Some providers ignore the fact that consumer-grade remote tools such as TeamViewer and AnyDesk compromise the client's security posture and rely on them blatantly with no sense of liability or responsibility towards the clients data.
Does this mean that a Managed IT and cybersecurity service provider has visibility over my team's data?
The short answer: YES and NO.
The long answer:
The tools that the MSP/MSSP uses on your team's endpoints and active infrastructure uses digital bots and crawlers to analyze your data and understand the threat landscape of your environment. This doesn't mean that the team behind the bots has the same visibility as the bots or crawlers. When an incident takes place, a Managed Service Provider or a support engineer might require access to a compromised device, in which case, an explicit approval from an appointed contact within your organization is needed for the remote access and management to happen. This gives your team enough time to ensure that no sensitive information, or mission critical data is being unauthorizedly viewed.
Furthermore, before deploying the needed tools, and MSP/MSSP needs to sign a non-disclosure agreement with the service requestor to make sure that all involved parties share the same knowledge of privacy and liability.
Are such services available for all business models?
The MSP/MSSP solutions utilize a cloud-first, agent-based approach. Agent here means a software-client that gets installed on the target device(s) to be able to communicate securely with a central cloud platform. This means that any device running windows, macOS, Linux, iOS or android can be enrolled in the managed stack.
In terms of environment size, Managed IT and Cybersecurity services in Egypt particularly make more sense to small and medium organizations. This is because the costs of the service are usually as little as or cheaper than the salary of a full-stack IT professional (System Administration, Cybersecurity Administration, Technology Roadmap design and management, service contract management) with the current pay scale of the industry.
Larger organizations might find the cost on the pricier side if they choose to fully offload the operations on the MSP/MSSP's team. However, in the real-world, larger organizations usually pick and choose specific services to bridge internal gaps in talent and workload, which makes the investment more justified.
What is the standard offering that MHE provides as a Managed IT and Cybersecurity Services Provider?
Endpoint management, monitoring & Protection.
Remote end-user assistance.
Unlimited Remote Support.
Predictive health monitoring.
Automate routine tasks.
Real-time monitoring & Alerting.
Automated OS Patch Management.
3rd Party Patching for common applications.
Managed Endpoint Detection and Response.
Advanced Threat Protection Sandboxing.
Continuous Behavioral Monitoring.
One-click Remediation & Rollback.
Device Control (USB & Bluetooth).
How much do MHE's Managed IT and Cybersecurity services cost?
The investment a client pays to receive the previous services could be as little as EGP4000 per month for an organization with up to 10 team members (globally). However, It depends on the environment size and needs. MHE offers THREE standard packages for environment sizes that could truly benefit from such a progressive, easy to deploy and manage support model.
You can get in touch with MHE and answer a few questions to get a quote for your environment size and further understand the room for customization and billing options.