Role of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in the Cloud

“I need a list of specific unknown problems that we’ll encounter.”

Now that cloud computing is more widely utilized in the enterprise, it is crucial for organizations to grasp ways they can maximize the benefits of a cloud deployment, while minimizing the risks of a move to the cloud. A study by 451 Research concluded hosting and cloud services will be responsible for 34 percent of IT budgets in 2017, up from 28 percent in 2016. The research also concluded a huge chunk of the spending is diversifying away from infrastructure and moving towards application services, security and managed cloud services. The rapidly changing landscape of cloud computing creates a challenge for enterprises migrating from on-premise applications and data centers to cloud-based solutions. When you want to reap the benefits of the cloud without the administrative burden of maintaining and managing your own cloud deployment, a managed cloud provider may be the best solution.

As you struggle to establish the most ideal configuration of secure on-premise and cloud infrastructure that meets all your IT and business requirements, a managed service provider (managed cloud provider) can significantly reduce the burden of managing your cloud infrastructure, while offering security and technical expertise your IT staff may lack. The skilled resources a managed cloud service provider offers augment in-house IT infrastructure and functionalities to be managed in collaboration with third-party managed service providers via cloud platforms. There is a vast variety of managed cloud services available in multiple forms; from traditional outsourcing to modern out-tasking. They are typically available at an infrastructure level or/and applications and tools level. Some services included in the managed cloud services market include managed security operations, managed network operations, managed mobility, and IT life cycle management. Any company that works with managed cloud services must ensure the provider can meet all the needs that will guarantee their success.
Some factors that are crucial for a successful move into the cloud with a managed cloud service include:

I. Security

With IP theft spiraling to over 56 percent in 2016 and the average cost of breaches surpassing 2.5 million dollars per incident, CIOs from all industries have recognized the massive impact a lack of security can have on a business. Breaches not only cost customers and profitability but also affect the business’ overall reputation. Secure cloud deployments cannot exist without the right cloud security prowess. The question becomes whether an organization is more capable of protecting its data than a specialized provider. A specialized cloud security provider typically has the expertise and scale to hold off the constantly rising number of attacks and threats. According to the Crowd Research Partners 2016 Cloud Security Report, 45 percent of organizations surveyed planned to partner with a managed security services provider. The key to overcoming the cloud security hurdle is to outsource the headache and focus on your business.

II. Building Cloud Strategy

With so many cloud services, small and medium businesses (SMBs) need a partner who is familiar with your industry space and cloud options. Picking right set of cloud services and building a cloud strategy is the most important IT decision that a business will take in the next 5-10 years. A good MSP will consider organization’s current and future needs to match them with a right cloud vendor and technology. Additionally, they can ensure clients have flexibility in moving between vendors as the business evolves. Since most companies hybrid of applications and technology, MSPs can help with developing right mix of public, private and hybrid cloud that satisfies the business needs and growth. In addition to building technology road map, MSPs could also help companies develop right processes to launch, control, and maintain cloud solutions.

III. Data Transition

As data continues to increase, organizations look for new technologies that can help them retain a competitive edge. CIOs are utilizing managed cloud services as they strive towards a better understanding of the data ecosystem, knowing where their data is located, and who has access to it. The transition into the cloud is a crucial step in managed cloud services. Generally, the provider moves the clients’ infrastructure to a certified data center. However, in other cases, the infrastructure is installed locally with the client.
For the entire transition to happen smoothly and successfully, components must be delivered in working order. The ideal way to go about it is by ensuring the entire infrastructure requirements have been established from the moment of delivery. Expertise plays an important part in this. An adept managed service provider will easily adapt to this knowledge for any new project. Eventually, it becomes an issue of reducing any inconvenience the transition may cause. This can easily be avoided by carefully analyzing all the risks.

III. Value Addition

A crucial component of managed cloud services is value addition. The client must gain a practical benefit from the service. What is considered a value-add may change from client to client for example, deduplication may be useful to clients with large quantities of duplicated data, it would be immaterial to another client. The main metrics that can measure this is continuity and predictability. Transparency should also be upheld, so clients can clearly see how the tooling and service provision is improving their business every step of the way. Traditional outsourcing mainly dealt with taking over defined processes and tasks for long periods of time; the client and provider clearly described what services are provided and under what conditions. This traditional way of doing things primarily to reduce costs leaves little room for innovation. A good alternative is out-tasking. In this model, quality trumps costs. The managed cloud service provider will continue managing things, while holding onto an optimum infrastructure, while the client stays focused on their core business, leaving ample room for innovation and growth.

Due to the vast array of choices and options, it’s crucial for organizations to work with the right provider, who is in the best position to help guide their IT strategy and select the right solutions to serve all their business requirements.

Author: Gabriel Lando