The Cloud MSP: Building on Traditional RolesBy Howard M. Cohen | Print
ANALYSIS: As the way customers consume infrastructure services changes, MSPs continue to expand the services they manage into the cloud.
Many channel partners who used to sell on-premise infrastructure solutions have been gradually acknowledging the customer value proposition from cloud computing and have transitioned to it. A new breed of cloud solution providers has emerged as a result.
Many managed service providers (MSPs), on the other hand, seem to want to perpetuate the myth that they only provide services in an on-premise setting. Yet the role of the managed cloud service provider, or cloud MSP, is not new. More progressive MSPs have long been helping their customers move to the cloud, and have taken up monitoring and managing the cloud as well as on-premise services.
These insightful experts realize that every cloud service carries a quality of service that is committed to in the provider's service-level agreement. They provide a valuable objective service that keeps the providers honest about their performance.
Cloud MSP Role: Selling New Services to Existing Customers
Selling more services to an existing customer is said to be "five times easier" than creating a whole new customer, so MSPs welcome any opportunity to expand their business by adding new services to their portfolio. This has given rise to a category of cloud managed service provider offering customers a broad choice between large provider clouds or their own private version, public cloud services and/or hybrid environments—all completely managed.
As the channel progresses, cloud MSPs who have been successful in becoming part of their customers' operations will seek to do so at deeper and deeper levels. Here are some examples of MSPs who are already managing services that are not focused on infrastructure.
Focus on Platform Apps, Such as ERP or CRM
Many channel partners implement platform applications such as ERP or CRM. Just as the installation of platform software such as Microsoft SharePoint has become a commodity, these partners see that as being inevitable in their field. Some have shifted their focus away from simple installation and onto the skills required by users to extract as much business value from the platform as possible.
With proper interpersonal communications training and advanced techniques in using the platform, companies such as Customer Dynamics of Salt Lake City are building a new practice around using CRM as a highly effective strategic weapon. They then manage the use of CRM for their customer, constantly adding new functionality and supporting users.
Systems integrators like Intelledox of Brisbane, Australia, have developed platforms to automate the development of applications using simple graphical interfaces to allow even the least technical user to build software without coding. According to Intelledox, all the users really need to know is their own workflow, their own processes. Many partners are seizing upon this to expand their practice by helping customers build, manage and extend the capabilities of these applications over time.
As our ability to collect more data points expands, we see the sheer volume and the diversity of the data we've collected ballooning. We no longer talk gigabytes or terabytes; we're talking petabytes, and it won't be long before we move further.
Beyond everything else that will be derived from all of this data is the need to develop actionable information that supports superior decision-making.