The Cisco OpenDNS MSP program will end on 31 July 2022. Starting from the day after, partners who want to continue using this Cisco service will have the chance to move to Cisco Secure Managed Service Provider Center. Or else, they could choose an alternative and cheaper DNS filter.
1. OpenDNS MSP stops: it’s time for a better DNS filter
The news about the termination of the Cisco OpenDNS MSP program could turn out to be a great opportunity for Managed Service Providers, carriers and channel operators in general. This is the right occasion to stop for a moment and think about and evaluate another filtering service based on the DNS. A more performing service, with more favorable access conditions and that may even grant higher margins.
How, then, can you proceed during this transition period, while you wait for the final date of 31 July? You could take the occasion to analyze the subscription conditions for OpenDNS for MSPs. Then, you could verify how the service has worked for your clients. For example, you could measure what is the effective ads block index for OpenDNS, how many false negatives there are, how often the OpenDNS service has not been available and, finally, how much was the effective margin on the provision of this service to your client companies.
For example, could you measure what percentages of actual ADS blocking by OpenDNS? How many false negatives were there? How many times was the OpenDNS service unavailable? And, finally, how much was the actual margin of service delivery to corporate customers?
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2. Abandoning the OpenDNS MSP program
You may wonder whether choosing an alternative to Cisco OpenDNS is really convenient since, in this case, the program conditions and the available tools would change. The answer is yes, it is convenient because, even if you want to remain faithful to Cisco, the program conditions will change.
According to what Cisco declared on its official blog post: “partners that want to continue as an MSP may migrate to the Cisco Secure Managed Service Provider (MSP) Center under Cisco Umbrella DNS-Essentials / DNS-Advantage [where they can buy] products directly from Cisco”.
Nevertheless, this implies the subscription to a new program, with new conditions and possibly different prices and margins. Cisco asks you to contact them directly if you wish to receive more detailed information. The only publicly available information is that Cisco Secure MSP Center has a multiple-level monthly consumption model; hence, you pay for the number of posts used. And, where applicable, you can subscribe to the Cisco Managed Service License Agreement (MSLA). For the rest, we can’t know anything else.
So, some doubts remain: what are the sales conditions? Will the change in tools require training? Will the settings you have defined with your clients be preserved? These questions shall be granted a prompt response, before making a decision that could have an impact on an important service for final users.
3. What should you ask of a good DNS filter for MSPs?
Once it is clear that MSPs and channel partners are nevertheless at a crossroads, it is useful to remind what aspects shall be carefully considered when choosing an alternative to Cisco OpenDNS.
For an MSP, the choice of a DNS filter is a great responsibility, on top of being, in some countries, a legal obligation, like in Italy according to the law decree n. 28/2020. Hence, you cannot think of offering your clients a managed service without granting an effective filter against threats (malware and phishing) and a “clean” navigation. And it must be a service that keeps up to the promises that partners are making to their clients.
3.1 A good database
The first thing to consider for an MSP is certainly the reference database. How complete is it? From how many distributed sources does it take its data? How often is it updated? The FlashStart DNS filter, for example, is based on an Anycast network of data centers monitored 24/7.
The structure on which the FlashStart DNS filter stands offers total redundancy on around 30 Tier-1, highly trustworthy data centers, which operate in the main national points of exchange on all continents. The load balancing, scalable, takes place through automatic provisioning, with a 99.999% uptime granted and an extremely low latency. Try it to see with your own eyes! Thanks to an owned NOC which is always active, FlashStart grants a constant protection from threats and DDOS attacks, with traffic mitigation and the blackholing of malicious traffic.
The database on which a filter is based must include a wide range of categories: the FlashStart on counts 85 of them! Also, it must be continuously updated. Only in this way will partners and their clients be able to count on a filter that reduces to almost zero the false negatives.
3.2 Granularity of settings
Another fundamental element for a good DNS filter is the possibility to customize and define group rules. The FlashStart solution provides a multi-tenant dashboard that allows MSPs to easily create and manage several tenants, or clients, isolated one from the other within the same distribution.
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Moreover, a good filtering solution vendor must provide maximum versatility. The MSP must be able to supply his client companies with a complete firewall solution or with a cloud-based service or software, or the entire platform in white label. FlashStart has all these options.
3.3 Support for porting
Furthermore, it must offer the possibility to use the same platform on more clients, hence maximizing the economic investment. Finally, the management console must be simple and intuitive and provide punctual and complete reports.
Isn’t this enough? Then let’s add that the FlashStart web filtering solution can be integrated with Microsoft Active Directory and other similar environments, the most widespread in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). And that all problems with porting or setup can be solved thanks to the available technical support – in South America as well as in Europe – 24/7, all year long.
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