Good Cyber Hygiene with Dan Wensley

December 18, 2019

Recently, our CEO Dan Wensley was featured in a podcast with the IoT Security Services Association (IoTSSA).

We often hear IT Service Providers talking about the latest and greatest cybersecurity tools from Artificial Intelligence to Machine Learning and Intrusion Detection; however many breeze over the fundamentals of starting with good cyber hygiene.

Brian Sherman and Tania Sheppard of IoTSSA host as Dan shares some stories from the field along with a few staggering stats including the fact that 70% of workstations are out-of-date. This represents huge opportunities for IT Service Providers to grow their business while also keeping their clients secure.

You can check out the full video below.

You can also find a transcript of the session below:

Brian: …We don’t want to keep him waiting too long, but our special guest on today’s episode is one of our longtime friends and channel guru. I think I can use that term. Dan Wensley, CEO of Warranty Master. Dan’s day job involves leading a team of masterminds who help IT Service Providers sell more services, less by automating various warranty related aspects of devices that they manage for their clients. That is a mouthful, I know. Dan’s going to explain a little more for us.

Brian: But he’s no stranger to the channel ecosystem, and has more than 25 years experience propelling IT service organizations to success. And he regularly speaks and moderates at industry events across the globe. And if you’re not sure about that, ask him about his Marriott Points, because I can tell you that I don’t think I’ve run into anybody who has more. Welcome to Secure Connections Podcast, Dan.

Dan Wensley: Thank you, Brian. Thank you Tania. It’s great to be here. And I actually just hit a new milestone with Marriott. It’s 1,279 nights. And if you do the math, that’s 3.5 years of my life lived in a Marriott, so.
Tania: That is impressive.

Brian: Wow, some people don’t live in a house that long, right?

Tania: No kidding. Have you seen the movie Up in the Air? You are up in the air Dan.

Dan Wensley: I have. One of the most depressing movies I ever saw. I actually saw it on a flight to Vancouver and it was horrifying.

Tania: It’s lovely to have you here, we’re thrilled. And I have to say, just prior to us kicking off here, folks out there, I know literally 99% of you know Dan, if you have not had the pleasure, at the next event you’re at, go and seek him out. Ask him a question, have a bit of a laugh. He’s an absolute wealth, as we’re going to find out, but I wanted to just slot that in before we started, so. Great person to get to know.

Dan Wensley: Thank you Tania.

Brian: And Dan, we have to ask you, your music that you listen to when you’re working. What gets you motivated?

Dan Wensley: I am blessed to have a Bluetooth speaker hooked to my… I now understand you can get your satellite radio on your mobile device. So I am channel 301, 32 and 34, which is Road Trip Radio, Lithium and The Bridge. So it gets me a little Yellow, it gets me a little Rush. I’m not sure it goes into your genre there, Tonia, but it keeps me going.

Tania: Brilliant.

Brian: Very cool.

Tania: Yeah. So, well, let’s get going with this. Few people may not know about Asset Lifecycle Management, ALM, but let’s kick off with that. Why don’t you tell us exactly what that is, Dan and all about Warranty Mazda.

Dan Wensley: Sure, love to. It’s an exciting area but it’s pretty traditional in our space, Tonia. It’s what got me excited, after coming out of two companies over the last decade, which were arguably an emerging tech and helping partners make the transition into managed services and make the transition into security. Quite honestly, when I looked at Asset Lifecycle Management initially it was, it looked well. We’re dealing with the assets. And I really, frankly, had tunnel vision on reactive and new ways to do service delivery model through managed services and obviously security over the last little while.

Dan Wensley: And suffice to say, I found that the technology innovations that have gone into this change in our industry, that we’ve gone through over the last decade, may have left the traditional business of the hardware, of the assets, of managing those behind. So what’s really innovative about what Warranty Master is doing for partners is, almost bringing the assets up into the managed services operational maturity efficiency that we’re used to now and just basic service delivery, which is, ticket automation, proactive, not reactive. Now we’re really looking at doing that with the assets that are under management, which is still a major component of IT Service Providers, business model, revenue model, and really is at the forefront of how their customer’s infrastructure operates and their IT environment, scalability.

Brian: So Dan, what are some of the specific challenges that IT Service Providers face when they’re managing all their assets? For not just their clients, but also internally?

Dan Wensley: Yeah. Again, it evokes right back to sort of the managed services evolution, Brian. There are thousands, if not tens of thousands of devices under management as an IT Service Provider that you’re responsible for. They are across all of your customers. You’re acquiring customers, you’re acquiring assets that you may not know, gee, when was this sold? When is that server coming out of warranty? What’s the expected lifespan of the products that are in there.

Dan Wensley: And the IT Service Provider community has frankly done a masterful job themselves doing it, but they’ve had to do it manually. And there are a lot of pitfalls, obviously, in doing anything manually. It’s a higher cost. There is less certainty that you’re getting the correct data. It’s not an automated process, which again, what we’ve been a part of over the last decade, in this managed services evolution, is automation and proactive versus reactive. And those are some of the barriers that many IT Service Providers were facing when it came to basic block and tackle of Asset Lifecycle Management. When does that server need to be replaced or refurbished or refreshed on a warranty, because it does have a major impact on, again, the performance of the network that you’re managing.

Tania: If you don’t mind, I wouldn’t mind getting just a smidge more granular with you, Dan. You talk about the innovation of Warranty Master, which it clearly is displaying that. And then we’re talking about sort of the traditional methodology that the MSPs have deployed prior to a technology like yours. Can you just tell us a little bit more about how that works? Literally. How they were doing it before and what the difference is today? How your solution is deployed and how it works?

Dan Wensley: Right. Well it’s really down to a manual process today for many IT Service Providers. I mean, thankfully, we have pushing 7,000 partners now, in 25 countries, who are taking advantage of automated Asset Lifecycle Management. But for all of us having to do it traditionally, it’s been Excel spreadsheets, it’s been track the data. And again, I come from an RMM background, the amount of data that we’re extracting and able to extract now as an IT Service Provider, out of our PSEs and RMMs, is fantastic, but there was no way to consolidate that information. You may have had a phenomenal sale as an IT Service Provider three years ago in quarter three, where you sold 30 new servers, or a hundred new workstations.

Dan Wensley: But you would’ve had to document that literally somewhere inside your organization and then notify your customer, Hey, in Q three of 2020 upcoming, we need to be looking at refreshing these assets that we put in. And that’s the age old, almost fight that IT Service Providers have with their customers, where the customer wants to extend the value of the expenditure they’ve made. And Nope, my servers are all fine, my desktops are all fine and they don’t even realize themselves how long they’ve been in use and what that means to their operational efficiency as a business.

Brian: Now, I know, we’ve used the term, a lot of things slip through the cracks, because there’s so many things in MSP managers today within their business, within their client’s businesses, whether it’s the RMMs, Datto, Autotask, ConnectWise, we’ve heard this for probably the last 10 or 15 years. You want to prevent the things from slipping through the cracks. In this case, if one of the common problems that occur when a business extends or overextends is device life cycles.

Dan Wensley: You can look at it from two aspects, Brian. One is for the IT Service Provider themselves. As a business, you’re missing out on sales opportunities quite bluntly. If you’re allowing your customers to extend their life cycle, without either applying an additional warranty to it or replacing that aging hardware because it does have performance degradation for that network, you’re missing out on sales opportunities. Now, what I love about our industry is it’s always a win-win situation. So yes, you’re going to go ask your customer for a new expenditure, but they’re going to get better performance… Oh, Tonia, did your gardener just show up? Is that why your dogs are barking?

Tania: It’s possible. I’m jumping on mute, to not interrupt you.

Dan Wensley: But it’s a win-win for the clients too, because they need to be kept informed of the assets that they have and that they’re utilizing. And are they in peak performance, are they delivering? It’s all our dream to walk into a customer and refresh all of their hardware given the latest and the greatest. We know that rarely, if ever, happens. But more importantly it’s critical that as an IT Service Provider, you are ensuring that these things are being rotated and they’re not only safe and secure, which I know we’ll talk about, but they’re refreshed on a regular basis. And you’re proactive in that conversation with your customer, rather than reactive.

Dan Wensley: Well, all of these tickets that came through for this server or this device, that’s even a reactive, it’s proactive to the ticket service, but it’s reactive to the replacement of the device. Wow. We’ve had a lot of tickets here. I think we need to go replace that Dell server that’s actually been sitting in there for five or six years, and that’s a huge capital expense for the customer. Wouldn’t it be better to be proactive about it and before those tickets and all those issues happen, it’s into the light. That’s what we call the Lifecycle Management of the asset.

Tania: Talking about being proactive, and of course we are the IOT Security Services Association, and as you so rightly put, we do need to talk about security. What are the security implications of Asset Lifecycle Management? It’s a huge question, but let’s get into that.

Dan Wensley: Yeah, it’s important. And again, this was an education for me, Tania, you have to understand, you know my legacy in security as a longstanding member of IoTSSA, and first into this organization with Passportal and so on. I immediately looked, is there security vulnerabilities to to this? And there really are. If a server, for example, is out of warranty and isn’t under a service contract, it may not be getting the patches that it requires. And we all know patching is vitally important to the security protection of any single device. So, the numbers are pretty staggering with the number of devices out of warranty and at end of life that aren’t under a proper service contract and may very well be representing a security vulnerability inside that network.

Brian: Yeah, I think when we look at… I haven’t heard traditionally, and I’m sure you’re the same way when you came into Warranty Master, a lot of discussions within the channel about asset life cycles and security aspect, but it makes perfect sense. Are channel companies doing enough to emphasize the risks of outdated equipment, outdated software? And if so, how can IT Service Providers connect the dots for their clients? I mean, what are some of the best practices along that line, Dan?

Dan Wensley: Yeah, we’re getting there and I was completely impressed, once again, by the IT Service Provider community and industry and what they were doing. Even without automated tools or integrated solutions, such as ours. Trying to be proactive, it was just really difficult and very time consuming. And a lot of money was still being left on the table, because they didn’t have the tools to do it. I think we are bringing a new heightened view of it and also the tools to actually document it properly for, both the IT Service Provider and their customer. Our numbers are pretty staggering when it comes to… And we have up to 10 million devices under management within the Warranty Master partner base, and a staggering 64% of servers are today out of warranty.

Tania: Given that statistic, which staggering indeed, do you see a correlation between that and sort of the number of cyber attacks we’re seeing that are actually successful? Because I know there’s some statistic about sort of a million attempts a day or something. Really, that sounds fairly crazy. Do you see a correlation there?

Dan Wensley: Yeah, there could be. I mean, I don’t want to over overemphasize because I mean, much as phishing attacks, much as is human error and things like that. But again, there are just cyber attacks that are trying to find holes with inside the network to get in and create a foothold. So, I wouldn’t want to wave the red flag on it being as significant or insignificant, as it may or may not be. But I think it’s, as a part of good hygiene, as you guys always talk about as IoTSSA, in a security posture, it is all encompassing. It is end user training. It is the right tools and applications at the front line of protection. But certainly out of date equipment does play a role in the security posture.

Brian: Now you had mentioned, the percentages are probably out of use or passer end of life, is there any other statistics in the industry now or do you see kind of these studies moving forward in the future? To give you more, let’s say the IT providers a little more ammo?

Dan Wensley: Well, there’s a couple of really good ones. There’s a scare tie, I mean on the desktop or on the workstation, Brian, it’s 70% of workstations are out of warranty. And what I found most interesting about that stat was, 58% of those are over four years old. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I have the great privilege of working with a number of millennials inside Warranty Master, great group. We did have the same at Passportal. I can tell you that my team today want and expect the best. My 21 year old son, who’s out using my tools to put on his snow tires today, expects the best tools, as do our staff.

Dan Wensley: So I think it’s a refresh opportunity, comes in with even the tools that we’re giving our employees to use. So I think it’s a great opportunity. I don’t know that I could hire somebody new into Warranty Master and hand them a five-year-old workstation. That wouldn’t be the impression we try to give to our employees. And I’m sure that goes for many. So again, I really see it as a win-win opportunity for the IT Service Provider to proactively allow their customers to budget for hardware placement refreshment or keep them under warranty. And there’s a couple of really good best practices when it comes to that, that our partners have educated me on.

Brian: So you’re telling me, you’re not sending out emails and saying, I have to talk to you about your car warranty or your PC warranty, that’s a whole different subject. Right?

Dan Wensley: Correct.

Brian: You’re not getting those emails, so.

Dan Wensley: Yes.

Brian: Yeah, that is great. What are some of the… I guess I should say, when you’re talking about your successful partners, what are some of them doing differently when it comes to Asset Lifecycle Management to get the word out and to-

Dan Wensley: They’re getting proactive on it, Brian. It’s a great partner, I’ll be sharing this on our all partner meeting, coming up here in a few weeks, with literally 6,500 partners across 25 countries. We allow partners to also purchase extended warranties inside our app. We’ve automated that solution inside the app and it’s really done phenomenally well for a small subsection of our partners, which is one of the things we’re going to talk about. But the best practice out of those who are doing it was one I spoke to and I said, look you guys are really doing a lot of extended warranties, that’s really great, can you tell me about the business? And they said… I said, how are you selling all of these? And they said, we don’t. I go, well you do because you’ve bought a lot from us. And he says, no, we don’t do it now. We did it before.

Dan Wensley: As a part of their managed services contract, they have their customers already understanding the importance of all of the devices being under, at least a warranty, if not replaced. So their standard SLA is that if any server or devices is coming out of warranty, we will automatically apply a warranty service to it. So all they do is watch for those to come off and immediately order it on behalf of their customers. So they’ve been super proactive with their customers and it’s a great business for them. They can confidently say that, I’ve got no customer with a server out of warranty at any time because we don’t allow it as a part of our managed service operation. That’s a great one. Many are going in and saying, Hey, we’ve got to replace this or put it under a warranty renewal and they’re still having to have that one sale conversation on a single server and they’re going to have another one next month.

Dan Wensley: What automated Asset Lifecycle Management allows you to do is get proactive about it. Whether you automate it or not, to the sales degree that I just spoke about in the previous example, or you’re telling your customer, listen, in 2020 in Q1, you’re going to be looking at this, Q2, Q3, Q4. And you can get much more strategic about the expenditures that they should be making and allow them to budget for it. So it’s a sales pipeline for our partners, the IT Service Provider, and it’s a budgeting tool for their customers, which is again a win-win.

Tania: Great best practices. And I think this is good advice on the whole really, like you said, being very, very proactive and also keeping your house in order. I love that it starts with Warranty Master. We talk a lot about that. I think Brian and my favorite phrase was, drinking around champagne, from a previous podcast, right? Which we’re like, Oh so much nicer than eating on dog food. But I love that it starts at home. You’re doing it… You’re looking after yours, you’re making sure your MSPs do and I love what they’re doing. Can you talk a bit more about your partner programs? Tell us what you’ve been kicking off? Because, I know that was a huge part of you getting involved with Warranty Master, having so much experience with the partners.

Dan Wensley: Yeah. I mean, this business and this application has done super well, certainly before my arrival into the organization. My job here, Tonia, is to help us scale up and actually help expand the conversation to our broader audience and specifically best practices with our partners. And that’s why I’m so excited about our first upcoming all partner meeting, because we’re just in low double digits of partners who are using the application to its full extent and really driving top line revenue with it and better securing their customers and seeing real replacement and refreshment. And, I love the, yes, drink your own champagne. That’s much better than the dog food.

Dan Wensley: And I’ll give you another great example of that for us internally, we expedited our two factor authentication program into Warranty Master, I think well ahead of the curve. And I know it’s being done now. It’s being demanded by partners as it should be. And quite honestly, I contribute IoTSSA to some of that. Over the last two years, with all the events that I participated in with IoTSSA, we’ve talked about 2FA, how important it is at the application layer, how the MSPs themselves are being targeted. So we did it immediately at Warranty Master. Even my sales guys find it frustrating. They go into the… Because we’re an application we use inside every single day and they go, Oh I didn’t, it’s 2FA and making them understand the value it’s bringing, I think is a wonderful, real step forward for us as an entire industry.

Brian: So, what other things is your team doing to help MSPs boost their Asset Lifecycle Management skills? Dan, I know you’ve discussed some of the things you’ve brought up to speed so far, but what’s ahead?

Dan Wensley: What’s ahead is better sharing of best practices. Brian, really it’s not much more complex than that. It’s a rare situation in a tech company, at least for me, not to be talking about roadmap and futures and things that we’ve got coming down the road. I’m talking to more partners about what we already have and how to fully utilize it. The original partner base, out of Warranty Master, saw it for what it is, at its core, which is automation of data collection from all of the RMMs and PSAs. We’ve got over, pushing 30 integrations to pull the data and then obviously our OEM integrations, we’ve got over 40 of those with all of the major OEMs and all the devices. So that’s our foundational value proposition. But since the launch of our in-app purchase of warranties, not enough partners have taken advantage of that.

Dan Wensley: They may be buying them somewhere else. We’ve automated that process for them, and really providing additional benefit. And then sharing these best practices around how to use as a sales opportunity pipeline for you, the MSP. We all know sales and how to do it. And lead generation is vitally important to this industry, in this community. While the data’s right in front of you, you can literally say, gee, I’ve got $100,000 in hardware coming up in Q2 of 2020 that we need to address. It’s a sales sheet you can hand to your salesperson and it’s broken down even by customer. It’ll identify, here’s your top customers who are the most vulnerable, have the most amount of assets coming up in 2020. And again, the beautiful part of it, you don’t have to wait for them to break to try to sell them the new one. You can walk in and say, let’s do some proactive planning. Let’s do manage services on assets the way I’m doing managed services on tickets and automation.

Brian: Dan, in some aspects too, you’re also handling, I want to say the vendor relationships for MSPs on this side. What’s the ecosystem look like that you’re working in, as far as the vendors and suppliers?

Dan Wensley: So we’ve got over 40 integrations on the OEM side, Brian, and we are constantly adding to that. I think we probably have a higher focus on that area. We’ve really done a great job of our integrations on the platform side, so from Auvik, to ConnectWise, to Datto, to Solarwinds, to Ninja RMM, I mean all of them, we have those integrations with, IT Glue, Passportal and so on even, so, Documentation Solutions even, that are pulling data, we’re able to again correlate that.

Dan Wensley: I heard a great story last week at an event, talking to a partner, and I said, so tell me about how you’re utilizing it. And she said, you know who likes your product the best is our finance department. I thought, okay for sales and because they’re doing that, and they said, no, Warranty Master is actually the place we go with the most complete and comprehensive overview of the assets we have under management, and they’re charging their customers on a per device or per user basis. So they use our application to crosscheck. Which was quite interesting and a new one I hadn’t heard before.
Tania: I love that it’s finance. I was going to say, because the predictability of it is probably incredibly attractive to that department. You have alluded to this partner meeting. Is this sort of double probation secret or can you tell us a few things about the partner meeting coming up?

Dan Wensley: The partner meeting is going to be super exciting. It’s coming up in about a month from the time we’re recording this, so for those of you it’ll be in the second week of December. We are going to be launching a number of things and what we’re working on, Tonia, most hard right now is actually the culmination of best practices. We have a lot of knowledge base and best use case scenarios and everything else. But with all the work we’ve done with partners over the last six months, and so I joined in the conversations, we’re actually taking all of their information and bundling it up into a playbook for our existing partners on how best the product is being utilized and leveraged by our best in breed partners. So I’d like to thank them for, going to make us look like a hero on all the great things you can get out of Warranty Manager. Because they have gone out and are utilizing it, so.

Dan Wensley: We’re going to have the playbook, we’re going to have some go to market components for them and really expose them to really expanded value. And the partners have been so gracious and get a lot out of the platform, but I know they can get more out of it. And that’s what I’m most looking forward to sharing with the audience.
Brian: So Dan, you know the one fun thing is we’re sitting here talking to you. I’m thinking does Dan know the date of the warranty expiration on that printer right behind him. And that’s just me thinking. But…

Dan Wensley: I do and I will tell you that we are probably one of the few companies on the planet with no devices, no assets out of warranty. All of our reports are all green, Brian.

Brian: Awesome, awesome. So, unfortunately it always happens, we run low on time, because we could talk all day with you. But any final thoughts you’d love to share about this topic that we’ve been hitting on today, which I think is crucial and hopefully we’ll definitely get a chance to talk more in the future.

Dan Wensley: No, I think we really, we covered a lot and thanks goes out to you guys for giving us the platform and the opportunity to speak through IoTSSA and good luck with your last few events here of the year and looking forward to do more with you guys in 2020. So, I thank you for the time and your interest and insights into the industry as well.

Tania: Fantastic. Thank you Dan. And as we hear, Dan doesn’t just drink his own champagne, he has Dome.

Brian: And he has a printer on warranty. I’m very excited for that part. Fantastic. Well on behalf of IoTSSA, Tonia, and I’d like to thank Dan Wensley from Warranty Master for being our special guest today and sharing his nuggets of channel knowledge, as always. We appreciate all of those of you who have downloaded our podcast today or tuned in to the Secure Connections podcast, and we encourage you to stop by on Wednesdays, which is when we launch our next episode. So have a safe, secure, and highly profitable day, on behalf of all of us, thank you.

– Allice Shandler

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