TMC CEO Rich Tehrani and Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola: A Fireside Chat at ITEXPO 2024

By Alex Passett February 13, 2024

This year’s ITEXPO has already off to a hot start, folks — I say “hot” particularly with this afternoon’s Fireside Chat in mind.

In the Floridian Ballroom of the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, our team watched TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) take the stage with Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola.

These long-time professionals sat down and got right to it; what’s changing for businesses today, how new technologies are influencing said changes, and what might be next for the industry at large.

Below is a rundown of this engaging TMC (News - Alert)-Kaseya exchange:

Rich Tehrani: You’ve been at Kaseya for over a decade, right? You must’ve seen so much change in that time. In a word, how’s that been?

Fred Voccola: In a word? Transformative. Small to mid-sized businesses are digitally transforming like never before. Technology is now the most important part of their business.

RT: Can you elaborate on that?

FV: Sure. If you recall going to a dental office 10 to 15 years ago, you’d have been lucky if there were two good working computers there (and they certainly didn’t process as much in 2014 as they do in 2024). Because now, that same office probably spends more on tech than they do on, well, really anything else. My guess? It’s practically a technology shop today; you can’t get your teeth cleaned or root canals completed or X-rays done or treatment plans made if their tech happens to be down. If their IT or even their security isn’t functioning, they can’t operate nearly as seamlessly, and they can’t generate revenue.”

There are thousands of stories like that. Nearly every industry uses today’s tech. Another example — my brother recently put a pool in his family’s backyard, and the company he hired used a literal drone to determine the scope of the job, and the parameters and equipment required.

This is a real-time transformation, Rich. It’s right in front of us.

RT: Plus, can’t forget how COVID accelerated so much of this; it thrust the modern workforce into greater action. And with greater actions come greater risks; namely, ransomware. Ransomware has become mainstream, unfortunately — it’s essentially extortionware.

Your company manages the endpoints for millions of people. How do you look at extortionware? Does it keep you up at night?

FV: Of course it does, and there’s more to it. You naturally have the day-to-day worries; assembling the right organization structures, hiring the right people, everything on the operational side of it. But yeah, there are these macro-level threats; I worry about them as the CEO of Kaseye, but also just as a citizen of the world, Rich. I’ve grown very uncomfortable when it comes to the incentives that our society has generated for cyber criminals and the extortionware they wield.

What’s equally unfortunate is a two-fold thing — following the money is very difficult, if not impossible at times, and also legislators around the world are often very behind the times. Thus, so are the penalties behind the crimes themselves. There’s limited enforcement, and people have to fend for themselves.

And when cyber criminal GDP eclipses our regular GDP, you can come up with a very quick destabilization effort. That definitely keeps me up at night. We tenaciously fight against it, but the challenges are strong.

RT: So, it then stands to reason that you must be evolving your cybersecurity solutions constantly. How are you doing that?

FV: Our cybersecurity business approach is to provide the full kit for MSPs so they have the most advanced cybersecurity defenses necessary to combat bad actors, and we deliver it at the lowest price possible. We have close to 800 engineers on cybersecurity products and the integrations between them.

I’ll also say (and I don’t want to sound harsh), but cyber threats are not really real to a lot of people… until they happen to you. It’s not always easy for MSPs to sell the required levels of service so their customers can truly protect themselves. So at Kaseya (News - Alert), we keep the price of our kit down so MSPs can keep succeeding financially. Then, they can then deliver their own truly protected solutions.

RT: So let’s talk about more solutions, but shift gears just a bit. People everywhere are working from anywhere in 2024 — on solid, protected devices and on not-so-protected or high-quality devices, through hybrid work, on compromised public connections, etcetera. Tell us more.

FV: That has certainly made criminals' tasks much easier, unfortunately. Not everyone puts firewalls on their personal computing devices. There are multilayered false senses of security.

So, what’s the real security? What pieces of our kit can MSPs take to create out-of-the-box solutions? What knowledge bases can we provide them?

To start, a big piece of knowledge: Thinking digitally is a must.

Things like workshops on digital protections and security awareness training are so important. The digital computing experience has to be re-examined for people that don’t think the way cyber criminals think. Security-first posture — making it possible and not terribly daunting to get into — that’s critical.

Put it this way: If you’re not security-first, you might not be able to operate for a day, a week, or more. That’s a very real problem across both physical and digital landscapes.

RT: And what about AI, under this microscope? What about extremely targeted, AI-generated messages to users? We know the proliferation of these technologies can’t be ignored; you can’t help but think about the wild amount of malicious messages that can be sent out in a highly targeted fashion, and that’s barely the tip of the iceberg. Businesses’ customers’ computers are susceptible.

So, how do you look at AI to implement security? How do you use it to defend against continuous attacks in this AI arms race?

FV: That’s a great way to describe it — this really is an arms race. AI is a tool we’re racing to use most efficiently. For now (and for the foreseeable future), AI is a tool that makes the tool’s user more proficient at what they do.

So to the point earlier about technology cybersecurity that’s rapidly evolving, we find that most victims of cyber crimes are falling victim to non-technical issues. AI is allowing bad actors to act on a scale we’ve never seen before. The volume of attacks is exponentially soaring.

This is why it’s Kaseya’s job to provide revolutionary tools so people can fast-track their paths through threat routes to help themselves and their teams.

Frankly, we’re leveraging these AI tools the best we can. Our R&D teams are using AI to augment our already-advanced functionalities and put usable solutions into the hands of our customers and partners. It’s what you said; a real race. And I think we’re going to see — and the world will see — major changes throughout the next several years. They won’t be perfect, and we don’t quite know what they’ll fully look like, but we’re sure to see major AI changes and regulations.

As things change, people will need to maximize their value. They should do so intelligently; with haste, but intelligently.

RT: Before we wrap up, can you make one far-fetched prediction about the future?

FV: I’ll make two:

First, everyone in the IT and MSP world will be much better off in five years. That’s a high-level one, but I still predict it’ll happen. Acquiring the right workers is hard. Customers churn. It’s rough terrain, but I believe growth within five years will really walk the talk.

Second, IT and MSPs are (and will continue to be) the way. Kaseya knows this is the way. In fact, we’re announcing something in about nine weeks that we believe will fundamentally change how people approach businesses at large, and industries like ours will remain at the core.

However you spell it out, though, I’m very lucky to be in this industry in 2024. With everything said, I am indeed very lucky and I look forward to what’s to come.

Learn more about ITEXPO (News - Alert) #TECHSUPERSHOW conversations like these here.

Edited by Alex Passett
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