Align Managed Services: Taking the Proactive and Interactive Approach

Vinod Paul, President, Align Managed Services
Chris Zadrima, Chief Operating Officer

“The truly exceptional MSP's stand out through their proactive and interactive approach”

Align is hot off its 2023 win as Managed Service Provider of the Year by Channel Futures. That’s no easy feat, and it speaks to Align’s commitment to its offerings, services, and customers. So, what does Align do that makes them the best managed service provider out there, and why are their solutions so beneficial, efficient, and innovative for their clients?

For Align, the path journey to delivering exceptional services commences with understanding the challenges that their customers and the broader financial services industry encounter within their own organizations. The majority of Align's clientele hails from the financial services sector, with a notable focus on registered investment advisors who grapple with two key challenges. The initial challenge pertains to meeting regulatory compliance standards. It is crucial for firms to balance keeping their data secure while “balancing investor expectations with security while meeting regulatory demands”, Vinod Paul, President of Align Managed Services, explains. “Institutional investors entrust their assets and sensitive information to our clients, underscoring the critical necessity for robust cybersecurity measures, regulatory adherence, and overall security protocols.” The constantly evolving and increasingly sophisticated threat landscape poses risks to every organization, regardless of size, highlighting the cyclical nature of challenges. This dynamic introduces the second challenge. Barriers of entry pose significant challenges for many emerging managers who are on the path of becoming registered investment advisors. Critical elements like electronic messaging and disaster recovery require implementation and oversight, but the majority of advisors lack the capacity to address them independently.

These types of full-scale challenges also mean that managed service providers have had to pivot in their offerings to be more holistically integrated. “There was always the finger pointing game where [traditional managed service providers] couldn't cover the full gamut but the client nonetheless thought they were covered because they were supposed to be their IT providers. The MSP’s would come back with, ‘Well, you didn’t pay for that service.’ “When we embarked on the launch of the Align IT Suite in 2017, our objective was clear. We aim to assist our clients in fulfilling all necessary requirements outlined by the SEC and meeting the expectations of their investors. Our intention with the Align IT Suite was to provide comprehensive solutions, ensuring our clients could address every aspect of their IT needs seamlessly. We recognized the importance of offering holistic support rather than limiting ourselves to only certain components of their IT infrastructure,” says Chris Zadrima, Chief Operating Officer.

Align realized, at that point, that the best model to incorporate was going to be holistic and able to scale with the client. This means that, in the full managed service and security service provider mode, Align is able to deliver to their clients the best suite of cutting-edge solutions that encompasses everything from cloud computing to cybersecurity services, meaning that businesses can focus on strategic endeavors rather than daily IT needs.

Align's Managed Service Provider (MSP) platform incorporates the comprehensive Align IT Suite, meticulously crafted to cater to individual business demands. This suite encompasses IT essentials, managed data protection, collaboration services, and compliance and data archiving, all within a secure environment. Equally noteworthy are Align's fundamental cloud services. As a Tier 1 Microsoft Cloud Solutions Partner, Align possesses the capability to customize cloud solutions precisely to match the unique needs of any organization. “We became a Tier 1 Microsoft Cloud solutions provider, but we did that with willful intent, meaning we actually left our private cloud and left that architecture because we knew that the Microsoft Business Applications Suite and the future Microsoft Cloud Solutions suite would allow our clients to leverage collaboration,” Zadrima says.

Align's expansion has been fueled by pioneering strategies and transitions. However, what truly distinguishes this MSP is its unwavering commitment to comprehending and addressing the unique requirements of the financial services vertical. This entails Align's deep integration within the financial sector, allowing them to grasp the intricacies and demands of the industry from a nuanced perspective. Coupled with experts who understand the space from a professional and technical standpoint, “not only boast top-tier MSP technologists but also industry-specific vertical experts,” Paul explains. “Gaining insights into customer needs in this manner enables Align to adopt a proactive stance, facilitating the identification of potential future challenges and opportunities.”

Case study
Experienced Advisory Consultants, LLC, a leading outsourced consultancy serving the alternative investment community (Hedge Funds, Private Equity, Family Offices, Fund of Funds), sought a trustworthy partner to create a foundational secure IT infrastructure with today’s regulatory and cybersecurity landscape. Their clients face stringent compliance requirements and the need for heightened data security, so they turned to Align, a trusted provider of Managed Services.

Ed Fasano, Managing Principal at Experienced Advisory Consultants, LLC, expressed confidence in the firm’s services, stating, "Align is our trusted provider for all our Managed Services and cybersecurity needs." Align's expertise in delivering best-in-class IT solutions resonated with the consultancy's commitment to productivity, growth, and regulatory adherence.

Their proactive approach not only bolstered cybersecurity but also streamlined operations, enabling seamless adherence to evolving compliance standards. Fasano emphasized Align's pivotal role, highlighting their reliability and integral partnership: "Align is more than a partner, they are an extension of our team."

The collaboration with Align empowered Experienced Advisory Consultants, LLC to focus on their core mission of providing strategic guidance to the alternative investment community while entrusting their IT infrastructure to a dependable ally. With Align's support, they anticipate sustained growth and compliance for years to come.

Ed Fasano, Managing Principal, Experienced Advisory Consultants, LLC

- While Align has a history spanning over three decades, recent major innovations and partnerships have significantly contributed to the company's growth and success as a comprehensive and forward-thinking MSP. In 2016, Align underwent a pivotal transition from private cloud to public cloud through a strategic partnership with Microsoft. Subsequently, in the following year, Align introduced an interactive client portal featuring a real-time dashboard, providing customers with immediate visibility into the performance of their infrastructure. This initiative prompted the enhancement of its foundational cybersecurity offering, Guardian 2.0, ensuring comprehensive coverage across the cybersecurity landscape when combined with the IT suite," says Zadrima. "Managed detection capabilities were further strengthened through a partnership with Adlumin, providing a platform to effectively address cybersecurity attached originating from cloud identities throughout the infrastructure, thus closing critical security gaps.”

Paul explains, "Recognizing the disparity in the value of a penetration testing versus understanding the attack surface area, Align launched Risk CSR, a real-time 24/7 vulnerability service powered by Cavelo." He further emphasizes, "By harnessing innovative technology alongside understanding threat vectors, Align has been able to provide comprehensive visibility as a critical key success factor to safeguarding our client’s infrastructure."

“Our partnerships have been a key to being a cutting-edge Managed Services provider, the key to successful partner relationships is finding vendors that scale with your business, and are innovating alongside you to solve for tomorrow's problems. While innovation remains a central focus for Align, we understand that customer service is the cornerstone that brings all product offerings of Align Managed Services together, ensuring successful relationships with our clients,” Paul says.

Align has developed an MSP solution that continuously evolves, not only in response to individual client needs but also within the broader technological landscape. "The truly exceptional MSPs stand out through their proactive and interactive approach," says Zadrima, highlighting Align's commitment to forward-thinking evaluation of potential challenges and opportunities for clients. As 2024 unfolds, Align remains dedicated to these values, focusing on assisting clients in harnessing the power of AI. Align has already taken strides by being among the first MSPs to implement AI through Microsoft's Copilot service. Expect Align to maintain its position at the industry forefront, offering a dedicated, secure, and agile MSP platform."