TubbTalk 112: Microsoft Stack & Why MSPs May Consider an Alt Service Desk

Service desk

An Interview With Scott Riley Service desk

In this interview, Richard speaks to Scott Riley, the founder of Cloud Nexus, a UK-based MSP specialising in the Microsoft Stack. Scott explains that he decided to niche the business to provide a more focused solution. Plus he explains why he outsources his service desk.

The Pros and Cons of Working with the Microsoft Stack

Scott explains that he’s worked for larger MSPs in the past. And as they grow, it’s harder to offer an excellent service in more than one area. “I realised that having private cloud platforms, email and virtual desktops put us in competition with Office 365 and Azure.

“Reselling Microsoft brings such small margins and it was hard to get businesses to sign up to licences. But when I set up on my own, I decided Microsoft Stack was the best option.”

Scott committed to build a set of services clients could use properly. He wants clients to get value from their licences and benefit from what they offer. Niching into Microsoft allows Cloud Nexus to Tubb Talk support clients with updates, patches and understanding features.

The M365 Masterclass

Cloud Nexus does project work on behalf of other MSPs. And, Scott says, they get a lot of follow-up questions on how to do things using Microsoft Stack and 365. The questions were the same every time, and finding answers takes hours.

So, Scott decided to develop a resource that would help MSPs find the information they needed. Most of the time they need a refresher. He developed Microsoft 365 Masterclass to give them what they need.

“It’s a massive repository of ‘how to’ – setting up M365, Azure, SharePoint, Teams and so on. And we get feedback from people asking for additional resources. The videos are 5-10 minutes long, so you can pop in and out. We charge one fee per MSP, and that’s it.”

The Tools Scott uses in Cloud Nexus

Cloud Nexus uses a range of tools. Firstly, they have Halo PSA, and Datto Autotask for RMM. Halo does billing, invoicing and quoting. Then they use Xero for finance and Heimdall to manage applications and websites. Finally, they use Intune for third party patching.

They also outsource a lot of their more general managed services tasks to Uptime Solutions, who manage their helpdesk, ticketing and dealing with queries and problems. 

How can you grow your #MSP by niching with Microsoft Stack? Scott Riley of @UKCloudNexus tells Richard Tubb how it's worked for him. Click to Tweet

Why MSPs Should Outsource Their Service Desk

The original plan was for Cloud Nexus to provide IT support services for clients. However, Scott says he didn’t want to do that or run a helpdesk. “You need a service desk team leader and a manager. And there’s staff churn and variability in quality. You also need all of the tools to go with it, which were really expensive.”

Scott says he found that it would be cheaper to outsource the helpdesk and give more specialist work to his team. They can focus on what they do best. The important thing, though, is to find a partner who can represent you properly.

“With Uptime, they spent time getting to know us. They asked what they could do to help and work alongside us to grow the business. We have a small ‘pod’ who support our clients. And they’re friendly, affable and proactive. They come to us with issues so we can solve them faster.”

Not sure what a service desk is? This article might help!

When Outsourcing isn’t the Best Option

Sometimes you might want to keep things in-house. Scott says that Uptime are SLA driven, so they can’t always do tasks in time to hit their SLA. For instance, they can’t set up an account for a new staff member who’s starting the next day.

So, we ask our support team to let us know if they come across anything urgent or unusual. Then, we can deal with them and resolve the problem quickly. They can copy over the tickets to our system so we know what’s going on.

Finally, Cloud Nexus don’t outsource project work. “This is because of lead time. They have the capability, but not the time to work on the project. Uptime can get busy with other projects, which means ours can get pushed back to the end of the queue. Doing it ourselves shortens that lead time.”

The Uptime SOC Solution

Along with NOC (Network Operation Centre) support, Uptime also provide a Security Operations Centre (SOC). Scott says they manage anything cybersecurity-related that goes beyond the standard helpdesk support.

Uptime will look at the incidents, triage, feedback and so on. “It’s hard to do that yourself as an MSP. Because you can’t be great at everything. And cybersecurity needs really great tools backed up by real people.

“Legislation is constantly changing and updating. How can we protect ourselves as MSP owners who are being held accountable for breaches? You can’t spot everything. Having specialist support prevents that. Cloud Nexus aren’t experts in cybersecurity, so we outsource it.” 

What are the benefits of outsourcing your #MSP service desk and how do you find the right partner? Scott Riley of @UKCloudNexus tells Richard Tubb how he did it. Click to Tweet

Cloud Nexus’ Relationship with Uptime Solutions

Scott says he has a fantastic relationship with Uptime Solutions. “The people we work with day to day feel like part of the team. It doesn’t feel like we’re separate from them. They do almost everything for us, and as well as we’d do it ourselves.

“They totally understand what we need as an MSP and what they should focus on. But they also have partner advisory councils to make sure we’re happy and if there’s anything else they can do. We have several contacts who keep in contact with us. We try not to bother them because they’re doing a great job.”

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