By: Antonio Piraino, CTO of ScienceLogic
Managed Service Providers (MSP) have a massive opportunity to take advantage of today’s cloud gold rush. While MSPs customers’ upside from leveraging the public cloud is significant, difficulty abounds with governance, compliance, and financial pressures a constant. In fact, the complexity associated with optimizing hybrid IT environments has led to the next big thing in the cloud: the advent of multicloud solutions.
Whether through cloud solution rationalization and consultancy services, design and migration services, or multicloud management and visibility – MSPs have the opportunity to elevate and add to their service catalogues. Not only by leveraging the numerous cloud platforms prevalent today, but by also exploiting the tools that are making the multicloud choice, holistic visibility, and control a reality.
So, what’s the best path to monetizing the cloud?
- Become a trusted advisor on multicloud environments
There is huge opportunity for managed service providers to position themselves as trusted advisors to enterprises that are making cloudy decisions. Instead of being ushered holistically into a single cloud, enterprises see MSPs as the pathway to a hybrid cloud and multicloud environment. MSPs should create SWAT consultative services practices to serve this urgent need. These gateway services provide ample cloud service upsell opportunity.
- Leverage public cloud for cost savings and prioritization of workloads
I once met a man from a prominent System Integrator (SI) at a time when the cloud behemoths seemed to be cannibalizing his core services. Instead of battling it out head-to-head with the multiple cloud providers, the man was only too happy to have the major public cloud service providers become engaged and part of his overall solution. As weak as that first seemed, the rationale for this SI, was that it meant the cloud was being used for lower-end, low-budget workloads, in a cost efficient manner; leaving him the broader piece of the budgetary pie with which to engineer a more sophisticated internal private cloud solution for the customer.
- Automate performance measurement at scale
All MSPs are rightly seeking tools that measure infrastructure performance from point of IT discovery to continuous run-operate. For example, I have found MSPs using discovery tools that allow for rapid customization and reuse of reporting mechanisms to reduce the decision making cycle to days instead of months. The time efficiency alone contributes to increased revenues.
- Consider the workloads
With empirical infrastructure performance evidence in-hand, you are then able to gauge how workloads might be configured. Different workload characteristics will drive different cloud demand. Some apps simply don’t suit the temporary and dynamic environment of the cloud, or are highly constrained by compliance or latency requirements, and need to remain within an on-premises private cloud environment. One may need to consider isolating workloads and other security domains in the cloud, or geo-fencing, or data recovery and backup policy. For example, certain test and development service requirements favor Amazon Web Services; other specific database attributes may favor the Google cloud; or certain on- to off-premises provisioning of .Net apps may favor a Microsoft Azure environment, while some business productivity apps may suite Office365 deployment. Knowing and advising around business policy, financial constraints and governance compliance factors, is a value-added feature of the “trusted advisor” role.
- Devise multicloud migration strategies
MSPs are fast becoming the Service Orchestrators in this modern IT world. To be successful in running in a multicloud environment, businesses and MSPs alike are going to have to facilitate the migration and provisioning to and between these clouds. There is, however, a difference between the act of lifting and shifting workloads into a typical IaaS environment, and preparing or refactoring apps for the cloud. That consideration in itself may be a determinant or deterrent and that refactoring needs to align with business requirements.
- Enable end-user visualization of multicloud environments
Beyond the preparedness factors, what then happens once users are migrated into the multicloud? For starters, you can only monetize an operational multicloud solution once you can historically visualize the multicloud environment. That includes the degree of visualization and control offered to end-users, too. I have found several MSPs able to monetize the monitoring of their multicloud environment, based predominantly on the degree of granularity exposed to the end customer. The ability to provide service level views above the underlying infrastructure associated with service level security, availability and performance can prove to be an area for monetization, especially as the services are tied to Service Level Agreements.