Business continuity, Channel partners, MSP, Channel technologies

Weathering The Storm: MSPs Rely On Strategic Partnerships To Stay Online

Tony Pannagl
Tony Pannagl

With the recent surge in natural disasters around the country and world, many companies have struggled to keep the lights on. The economic toll from disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is staggering, with some estimates saying the dual storms could cost the economy as much as $200 billion. So getting the lights back on and business running as usual is more important than ever.

Many companies rely on their MSPs to keep their businesses on track. But those MSPs are often suffering through the same disasters.

Take, for example, the story of Houston-based MSP, IS&T. The company manages more than 700 endpoints in the region, using Continuum’s outsourced IT management model. IS&T Founder and Managing Partner Tony Pannagl says Continuum’s Help Desk handled basic customer service requests during Harvey, allowing his team to focus on more critical and complex issues for clients.

“So the storm comes in, everyone starts losing power, cats are marrying dogs, arcs are being built, and animals are lining up two by two,” Pannagl quips. “But one of the things from a business standpoint, when you run an MSP organization, everyone knows that the first visibility that any of your users have is through your help desk. In many instances, that’s the only connection or relation they have with IT. So having a good face there and having a reliable consistent support service, especially in a situation like what we went through, from an MSP standpoint was monumentally huge.”

Weathering The Storm

Pannagl explains that the service allowed his company to offload support for its customers and clients. “It was effectively giving the help desk to Continuum and them being able to put a smiling face on a situation that’s clearly not good,” he says.

Meanwhile, at least one IS&T rival was dark for more than a week. “They’ve got end users that are mad, that are frustrated, that expect a level of service that’s not there,” he says. “So for us, we came out smelling like a rose because we were able to lean on Continuum to put that first line of defense and make us look like we were up and running and never missed a beat.”

IS&T also benefited from access to a data center owned by Pannagl's friend. “Most of the issues that we had were just rerouting people because they had to work from home. So it was more that we had to set up a VPN and give them the ability to connect,” he says.

Amid those partner relationships, Pannagl was able to help out with matters closer to home -- including two feet of water that flooded his sister's home. “As a business owner, I was able to know my business was okay and I could focus on helping my sister and her family. That just a lot of pressure off me.”

Cleanup Effort Continues

Numerous companies have assisted recovery efforts following Harvey and Irma. For example, Datto had disaster recovery teams on the ground in Texas and Florida while Kaseya, which has offices in Miami and Tampa, is back up and running, helping with the relief effort. Tampa-based ConnectWise, meanwhile, was able to stay online thanks to its geographically dispersed cloud solutions, according to a statement from the company.

The Texas cleanup will take years, according to disaster recovery experts. Also, the cleanup requirements in Florida are part of the largest disaster recovery initiative in U.S. history.