Case Study - Internet Contrasts

 

MSP Partners with WatchGuard to Deliver Outstanding Service to Clients

Background

Internet Contrasts is one of the new breed of managed service providers (MSPs) who leverage deep knowledge of technology and relentless customer support to ensure customer networks are in top form. For this Texas-based MSP, delivering peace of mind to clients is part of an end-to-end service model incorporating next-generation equipment, thoroughly trained technicians, and the commitment to solve business problems with the right combination of technologies.

As Internet Contrasts founder and President Brandon Zumwalt described it, "Our customers are trying to make things more efficient, trying to automate and save money. They need to maintain their competitive advantage. We help our clients make their networks run better and we make sure they're protected."

Internet Contrast typically serves businesses that range from 5 users to 500 or more. As an MSP, that means they manage client-vendor relationships, coordinate and monitor all servers and work stations, and take care of security, including VPNs for branch offices, headquarters, and remote workers. They do backup disaster recovery, consulting, and strategic technology planning to help grow business.

This is how Internet Contrasts put the components together to create a thriving MSP business in the highly competitive managed services marketplace.

Start with the Right Partners

Internet Contrasts is adept at solving business problems by using the best technology for the job. For network security, they rely on WatchGuard.

"One of the reasons I choose to partner with WatchGuard is because the interface is so good," explained Zumwalt "To this day, it's still the only product I've found that gives me real-time traffic analysis. Whether I'm troubleshooting a virus attack, checking bandwidth, or just seeing what people are doing on the Internet, WatchGuard gives me real-time views into what's happening. When I look at some competitors' products – they just do things kind of backward with their interface. With WatchGuard, it's intuitive.

"Another reason I really like WatchGuard products is the way security policies are managed. Policies are easy to setup and maintain. I make use of pre-defined filters to create security templates that can work in almost anybody's network," Zumwalt continued.

Build a Winning Team

The momentum starts the moment a new employee is hired. "Every new technician has to be WatchGuard-certified within the first 45 days. They don't handle any client load before being well-trained and tested."

And the commitment is ongoing. "We require our people to do 20 hours of training per quarter in various technologies and we throw in a bonus to boot for continually growing their skills. This ensures that our customers not only have the best technicians solving their problems, they also have someone who knows how to talk to them about their issues. In the end, we save clients money by saving time, because our people really know what to look for, how to troubleshoot, how to get things done right on first pass."

Leverage Experience

Zumwalt has had deployments as small as a one-man office with special wireless connectivity issues to businesses with hundreds of employees. "For businesses with branch offices," he explained, "we often put a WatchGuard XTM 5 Series in the main office, and then use XTM 2 Series devices at the end points. For one customer with an ISP business, we moved up to the XTM 8 Series, since the business handles massive Internet connections and needs a real powerhouse machine."

To secure its numerous retail clients, Internet Contrasts has a proven formula for success. "For a small point of sale location, we go with the XTM 2 Series. It may be a single person with a computer and printer and Internet connection – that's pretty standard and usually you see those in big box stores and mall kiosks. Sometimes it's a temporary setting, so the client doesn't want the hassle of rack-mount equipment. He wants something that he can quickly throw in a bag when he breaks down the booth and heads out to the next venue. As a reliable, small business table-top security appliance, the XTM 2 Series can't be beat."

Make Technology Pay Off for the Customer

Internet Contrasts is regularly called upon to use its technical savvy to deliver efficiencies, as well as security, in its clients' businesses.

"One of the most challenging deployments I ever had was for a series of franchise financial service offices," Zumwalt recalls. "This client owned 37 of them, typically with one to two people, two computers and a printer. He wanted to implement VoIP and cut costs on admin services.

"The client figured he had about 70-some employees who could potentially answer the phone at any given time. He wanted his people to have the ability to pick up any call and route it to the right person. That's pretty smart. You have this fixed cost and all these people at your disposal. If the phone rings in all offices, somebody is going to be able to answer, do a quick three-digit redial, and route the call to the correct person.

"To make this work we had to put a mesh VPN network between 37 locations. We needed to do web blocking policies, virus policies – all your standard filtering for hackers, viruses, and worms – plus egress those firewalls because the owner didn't want people going to dangerous or inappropriate web sites, or streaming videos or playing games. WatchGuard products were able to handle all our needs.

"It took us about three weeks to perfect it. The phone vendor who actually put in the VoIP system didn't know the Quality of Service component or VPN, or even how to IP this thing. We had to design the network, do all the subnets, and then configure the QoS and get appropriate bandwidth in there, making sure nothing was in conflict. It was a lot of work, but we got it done and it worked!"

Protect the Moving Target

"IT is losing control of the endpoints in general – things like iPads, iPhones, Android phones, tablets, laptops," Zumwalt explained. "When IT doesn't get to choose the device the end user is going to use, they need something clientless." That's where the WatchGuard SSL appliance fits in.

Zumwalt believes that WatchGuard SSL is especially important in deployments where workers are always on the go. Home healthcare is a perfect example. "Nurses, speech therapists, physician's assistants – they don't come into the office because they spend the majority of their time in patients' homes or at clinics. It's rare that we ever get to touch their devices once we deploy them, so the system needs to be seamless and as user friendly as possible," he explained. "With WatchGuard SSL devices, we don't have to install and update a specific piece of software, and users automatically download the latest policies when they authenticate. It couldn't be easier."

Support Compliance

Industry and government regulations touch almost every kind of business these days, and helping clients achieve, maintain, and prove compliance is an important part of Internet Contrasts' service. Said Zumwalt, "Credit card merchants are dinging customers for not being PCI compliant with fees and threats to shut down their accounts. We often fill out our customers' PCI forms for them to ensure they're covered.

"By using WatchGuard devices we fulfill that PCI firewall rule, and with the other features of the XTM boxes we can say yes, we are doing everything to ensure credit cards are secure, including encrypting and proxy filtering. Achieving compliance is a big benefit of using WatchGuard solutions."

Summary

Internet Contrasts has developed a winning business model with its crack team of IT professionals, diligent customer care, and outstanding technology partners. As Zumwalt concluded, "I began using WatchGuard products more than eight years ago and they've always been great appliances. They have proven to be thoroughly reliable, easy to use, and always evolving to stay ahead of the latest network threats."

About Internet Contrasts

Located in Helotes, Texas, Internet Contrasts offers a single source for all business technology needs. Solving business problems with technology, Internet Contrasts bundles a complete technology management solution tailored for small to mid-sized businesses across the United States. Learn more about Internet Contrasts at www.internetcontrasts.com.

 

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[WatchGuard appliances] have proven to be thoroughly reliable, easy to use, and always evolving to stay ahead of the latest network threats.

Brendan Zumwalt, President
Internet Contrasts

 

 

About WatchGuard

WatchGuard has deployed nearly a million integrated, multi-function threat management appliances worldwide. Our signature red boxes are architected to be the industry's smartest, fastest, and meanest security devices with every scanning engine running at full throttle. Why buy WatchGuard? Find out here.

 

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