In my previous post, I discussed how today’s customers are eager for solutions. Business-owning customers want to spend their time running their business and not on solving complicated IT problems; they WANT to pay you to make IT easier.
That all sounds great, but again — how do you secure those clients?
Iteration. MCSPs must constantly communicate with their clients in a more personal way. Dashboards, reports, email blasts, automated tickets and generic vCIO content is great. However, it is not enough to create a tailored solution with the complexity required at this point. Clients need a plan; they need to be able to absorb this massive transition slowly. You must create a progressive technology plan that takes them from where they are to where they need to be, leading to higher acceptance and better retention.
Start with your knowledge of their business. If you don’t have this knowledge, get it. Based on their vertical, their maturity and their concerns, start with what matters most. Compliance? Data Security? DR? Mobility? Scalability? Pick something to be the hub of your plan; something that justifies all the change and the necessary action for the client, or also justifies the early steps that don’t seem like they are immediately solving a problem. It won’t be the same for all clients. It needs to manage their concerns and reduce anxiety around the coming changes. In other words: solve a problem. Give them a plan that makes their business more efficient, not just cloudification. Once you have this, communicate, communicate, communicate — not just QBRs or automated communications. Sell the plan, get their buy in and share what’s next and why it’s important. Remind them why this is happening every step of the way.
The critical steps will be the following, regardless of your justification:
Identity management. You are going to be distributing their services to the best place for the job, but this can’t add 20 different logins to their daily life. As you roll out the rest of the plan, start with single sign-on and access control from the beginning. As a bonus, select a provider that adds SaaS utilization management so that you can be efficient with the clients’ spend on SaaS — Okta and MetaSaaS, for instance.
Accelerate. Implement SDWWAN for reliable and responsive connectivity to the cloud – VMware’s Velocloud for instance. This will reduce the time that you spend managing the network connections that are critical to the solution, and it will keep the experience solid as they rely more heavily on the cloud via their WAN.
Secure. Secure the solution with a managed NGFW and SOC solution. Protect the endpoints — don’t just trust a firewall, no matter how next generation it may be. Belts and suspenders. You want to start out secure, not by bolting it on after a breach or compromise. This is the first step that will feel like they are making progress. If this isn’t done right early, it will lead to similar failures as discussed above with the WAN. Cloud is inherently secure to end users. You don’t want to misstep and have them question the solution mid-way.
SaaS offload. Find the needs best served by SaaS. No need to migrate a legacy app that is in need of refresh and unable to realize the promise of the cloud due to its shortcomings from age. Don’t force it. Ask yourself, “Does the SaaS alternative really solve their problem?”
Migrate. Migrate their legacy apps to IaaS. Migrate their desktops to DaaS or a workspace solution. You won’t be able to replace everything with SaaS. It’s not the best solution for every workload and forcing it will just decrease the clients’ efficiency and happiness with the solution. DaaS and IaaS will give their legacy applications the SaaS-like feel of mobility and accessibility. One more note: Don’t force DaaS until everything else is in order. It’s another place you can undo a lot of trust if the predecessor tasks are not solid and complete.
Protect. Don’t forget a DR and backup strategy. That’s another place that clients think is magic in the cloud. Backup SaaS data, replicate IaaS data to multiple regions. Have a DR strategy for remote working. Don’t undersell the value of having a DR plan for not only major natural disasters but things like holidays, inclement weather, moving offices or growing quickly.
Measure and improve. The cloud offers an endless stream of information about your clients’ workloads. Use this technology to continually improve through discussions of changes to their business, growth of resources, continued migrations to SaaS, auditing, etc.
Above are some tools to help with the planning of such a strategy and communicating the value. It’s time to evolve. It’s time to change the game again. You will differentiate yourself and secure long-term clients.