MSP Finds Success in Close Collaboration, Training with WatchGuard
Sydney IT support veteran Ian Ward began his high-tech career as a mini-mainframe repair technician in the 1980s before striking out for himself in 1995. A one-man operation for several years, he saw an opportunity for a small business that could act as an outsourced IT department for other small- and medium-sized businesses.
“We build networks, we maintain them, we provide help-desk support to end users – we’ve been a classic managed services provider from the get-go,” Ian says.
CyberPro’s team of five looks after approximately 40 managed services clients, some of which have been on the books for almost 20 years, and a further 40 organizations which deal with the firm on an ad-hoc basis.
“We work with a preponderance of companies in the professional services sector. Business continuity and data security are a priority for them, so they tend to want formal arrangements,” Ian says.
Back in the day, Ian used to build his own firewalls from scratch, but this ceased to be technically feasible a decade or more ago. CyberPro subsequently flirted with security products from SnapGear and SonicWall but made the switch to WatchGuard in 2014.
“I was impressed by the way WatchGuard brought enterprise-level security down into the SME market,” Ian explains. “When they moved away from a per user licensing model, that was a game changer for us and we decided to go all in, across our client base”.
“It quickly became apparent WatchGuard would be a key part of our business and we went on to achieve Silver and then Gold Partnership status in WatchGuardONE. For a small organization, we’ve invested a great deal in training because WatchGuard has become such a big part of what we do.”
CyberPro manages around 60 WatchGuard firewalls, including the Firebox T Series and M Series. WatchGuard’s multi-factor authentication solution, AuthPoint, is expected to be more tightly integrated into CyberPro’s managed services offering in the future, along with the endpoint solutions developed by recent WatchGuard acquisition, Panda Security.
Six years on, the vendor continues to impress. “They’re still very much at the forefront of bringing new security devices into their ecosystem and giving SMB customers the benefit of very sophisticated technology that can protect them against the threats the digital age is throwing up,” Ian says.
Co-funded events have helped CyberPro educate and strengthen ties with its clients. Pre-COVID, these took place in person but, in the social distancing era, they’ve moved online, in the form of webinars.
“WatchGuard’s Asia Pacific sales engineering manager has always been very generous with his time,” Ian says.
“We had 50 people on a webinar recently, with WatchGuard’s engineering management attending as a special guest. Customers can see their level of expertise and that reflects well on us as a partner – it reinforces our position as a trusted adviser who’s up to speed with what’s happening in the security sphere.”
Marketing collateral published on the WatchGuardONE Partner Portal helps CyberPro stretch its slim promotional budget.
“There’s a lot of information there to download – WatchGuard product descriptions, PowerPoint slides to help you build presentations and things we can brand,” Ian says. “That can be useful because producing our own material can get expensive, for a small organisation like ours. Having that bank of WatchGuard materials there to dip into enables us to direct our marketing dollars more effectively.”
Meanwhile, technical support and training have been second to none.
“WatchGuard’s education and certification program is particularly robust, and that’s a huge plus for me because once my team have passed, I can be confident they know their stuff and are up to the job,” Ian says.
On the rare occasion CyberPro has had to escalate a technical query, the response from WatchGuard has been prompt and professional.
“We’re fairly self-sufficient and haven’t had to call on them too often, but there have been a couple of times something quite tricky has popped up and the senior support team has been fantastic,” Ian says.
“It’s part and parcel of the superlative service that keeps WatchGuard head and shoulders above other suppliers”, he adds.
“We don’t have a relationship with any other vendors like the one we enjoy with WatchGuard. It’s very collaborative and supportive and that cuts both ways.”