In 2016, we wrote about the exponential value of computer networks and the importance of IT professionals as champions of the network, “doing their part to secure, maintain, and advance the engines that keep everything running.”

Today, those words ring true in ways we could never have predicted four years ago. Amidst the uncertainty and upheaval of the past few weeks, networks have become a lifeline for many businesses and communities, ensuring we can stay connected at a time when we’re more physically isolated than ever before.

In the US, the IT sector has been designated as one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors needed to stay open and operable during a national crisis by the US Department of Homeland Security. Many other countries include IT on their list of critical sectors as well.

It’s not hard to see why. IT underpins our entire world, and IT infrastructure is required to maintain continuity, safety, and social functioning in a crisis.

To the many IT professionals working long hours in less-than-ideal circumstances: thank you.

While there are many uncertainties and challenges ahead, we’re hopeful that, with your help, we’ll all emerge stronger from this crisis. Here’s how:

1. Helping businesses survive the upheaval of COVID-19

Your last few weeks have likely been focused on helping businesses continue operations under drastically different circumstances, from work-from-home setup to digital service delivery. In many cases, your support means the difference between a business staying open or shutting down—sometimes forever.

A story shared by an MSP on Reddit brings this point home. Speaking about how some customers have asked to cancel or delay payments, he says:

“..as most of our customers have been with me for a decade I’ve decided to just suck it up. Hell, I’ve even installed [stuff] for them for free so that they can somehow continue to operate (and I’ve never seen a customer so grateful, he literally had tears in his eyes). We’re all in this together and if we show some solidarity we’ll all get through this.”

Enabling businesses to continue serving customers, and keeping the literal and metaphorical lights on is nothing short of a public service in the time of unprecedented unemployment. Your work is helping to make individuals and the economy as a whole more resilient to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Improving security and disaster recovery preparedness

Google has reported a 350% increase in phishing websites from January to March, as hackers opportunistically prey on fear and confusion around COVID-19 to steal personal data and gain access to private networks. The healthcare sector, which is already disproportionately targeted by ransomware, is particularly vulnerable.

You play an important role in combating cybercrime and safeguarding essential businesses during this time. Those conversations about security and business continuity that you’ve been trying to get on the calendar for months? They’re happening now.

As a Facebook commenter in an MSP COVID-19 support group observed:

“This whole situation makes the discussion about disaster recovery first on the list rather than last. In the past it’s been hard to get people to realize what disaster recovery really was… Now they unfortunately know first hand that it’s not just backups.”

The good news is that you’re prepared to guide their users through the security minefield that lies ahead.

3. Providing strategic technology guidance to help businesses thrive in an uncertain future

With economic uncertainty comes a tightening of the belts, and IT teams are already seeing non-essential project work slow to a halt. But Gartner researchers predict that some projects, such as cloud migration, will only accelerate as IT leaders help the business adapt to the realities of a post-pandemic world.

“MSPs have long histories of helping IT departments implement new technologies and navigate change,” explains Jim Lampert, VP of service provider sales at OpsRamp. “Right now is the perfect time for MSPs to move out of the business of transactional IT […] and into the higher-value work of digital innovation.”

You’ve already stepped up to the plate to help businesses navigate their first major challenge brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic: taking their workforce remote. As the weeks and months progress, you’ll serve an equally crucial role in helping businesses tackle the uncertain times that lie ahead.

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