A Multi-Cloud Centric Approach to Managed Services

A Trend Toward Hybrid

Over the years we have noticed several trends that reshaped the IT Managed Services industry and market we find ourselves in. From very traditional on premises data center management and system administration, to organizations jumping the gun and moving everything into the cloud - sometimes, only to move most of it back to on premises due to exorbitant and unsustainable bills or damaging performance setbacks. We’ve been along for the ride and seen our fair share of shifting preferences.

In the last 2 years, it seems like things have finally settled down and companies have found the winning combination with 92% using the public cloud, 75% operating a private cloud, and 51% driving a hybrid strategy of public and private clouds. Although they may not be feasible for every industry and every use case, hybrid clouds are awesome because they allow our clients to leverage the benefits of both on-premises low latency, security and control, as well as the elasticity and scalability offered by public cloud services.

A Trend Toward Multi-Cloud

Nonetheless our role as a cloud managed service provider (MSP) is changing, as our clients no longer ask for simple single-cloud hybrids, but rightly pursue multi-cloud solutions. With over 82% of companies using a multi-cloud approach, the question we face is no longer “Do you know Cloud and can you help us get there?” but rather “Which Clouds do you know and how can you help us leverage their integration?”.

While we are blessed with a team of exceptional people who are all truly experts in their field and thus able to cover anything from AWS and Azure to GCP and Oracle, we have seen friends and other MSPs struggle or get bought out because they weren’t able to fight on all fronts/tick all the boxes. It’s become incredibly difficult for all the non-Deloittes, non-Accenture, small to medium sized cloud MSPs out there to offer quality services in multiple clouds. On top of that, it is becoming a dog-eat-dog world for all those managed services firms who can’t offer cloud resources directly to their clients in the form of resales or brokerage. (Phew! Good thing we do both!)

The One-Stop-Shop MSP

Clients increasingly want a no-hassle one-stop-shop that will take care of all the evaluation, aggregation, implementation, integration and administration of multiple clouds. We welcome this change in ownership because it means that we have finally been awarded the freedom to do what we think is best for our clients, and in turn our clients can focus on developing the applications that create value for their business rather than worrying about the base layer on which they run. However, as Obi-Wan Kenobi would say, “freedom comes with great responsibility”.

To properly manage these new set-ups and keep clients happy cloud managed service providers need to have in-depth knowledge of more than one cloud, in order to successfully broker the right mix of diversified cloud offerings in an integrated solution that best suits the client’s needs. Rather than partnering with only one cloud service provider, good managed service providers should have a whole tool-belt of different technologies and third-party gadgets available at their finger tips so they can shoot from the hip and quickly find the solutions that best fit the client’s requirements.

Managed Service Providers as Strategy Advisors

Moreover, with the world of cloud rapidly changing, many clients struggle to stay up to date and keep an overview of everything new that becomes available, and thus increasingly rely on their managed service providers to offer strategic advice and assist them in making high-level, organization wide decision on cloud strategy. This means we are no longer only fixing short run performance problems or cost reduction issues, but need to create far-thinking strategies that provide opportunities for flexibility, agility, and expansion in the long-run. In other words, managed service providers in the cloud industry need to identify and construct solutions which address the client’s future needs, not only those of today.

Smaller, Faster, Stronger

All this might seem like a lot, and many managed service providers seem to struggle with this concept for growth because they try to fight fire on all fronts. But the key to surviving and growing in this rapidly changing cloud world is knowing what you know, and doing it well. The key to doing that is having the right people, being agile and responsive, and flexible enough to meet even the most unusual client requests. This means that you don’t need to be big to be good, and you don’t need an army of people who know a little of a lot, but rather a navy seal team of experts, who are champions in their own field. For us, this strategy of keeping our tool belts filled, hiring good people, and staying open minded has worked very well these last few years. Perhaps it can work for you too…

Happy Cloud-Surfing!