The Case for Managed Cloud Services Providers

Complex IT scenarios used to be the stuff of NASA, militaries and Fortune 500 companies. Small businesses were immune to the complexities of highly available, multi-platform, multi-vendor, compliant, distributed, vulnerable IT systems. Those days are long gone, as we all well know. The complexity of IT was highlighted ironically by the coining of the term “cloud” itself. The “cloud” obscured the complexity of these systems into a generic term meant to say, “a network of systems and platforms maintained outside of one’s own environment” (my off the cuff definition; like many of you, I simply remember drawing clouds in the ‘90s to show complex network designs of which I didn’t want to draw all the components).

I am certainly not the first person to expound on the evolution of Information Technology over the last half century, nor do I believe I will be the last. That’s not why I am writing this post. I am writing to provide a case for the modern managed cloud service provider. Business can no longer operate without participating in these complex interconnected systems. However, small businesses have not changed – they do not have the ability to manage this complexity. They are good at what they set out to do with their enterprise, but not necessarily with the IT required to do so. Sure, MSPs of the 2.0 variety exist to fill this need, but they also are not evolved enough. Outsourced IT is not a new concept, but it’s not enough. Outsourced cloud service mediation, outsourced service mobility and agility, outsourced compliance, outsourced security, ubiquitous service access must all be combined into a solution. MSP 1.0 was about turning break fix into opex. MSP 2.0 added consultancy and more services. MSP 3.0 (or what I call managed cloud service providers or MCSPs) must be about making IT disappear into the background.

Imagine selling (insert vertical here) as a service. A customer no longer worries about what system they are logging into, what software licenses they are paying for or whose cloud services they are using. They simply consume the services that you, as the MCSP, have selected for their needs. You may be saying, “What does that even mean? What platform(s) are you talking about? What products?” The point isn’t how yet, it is what. Now the time is right for holistic solutions made up of many vendors, products and providers. We need to put the simplification of the cloud drawing over that complexity as well. Modern MSPs or MCSPs must be focused on selling a solution that does not have the customer wondering why AWS is better than Azure or why o365 is better than gSuite, etc. Modern solutions must solve a problem and work in a way agnostic to the underlying components. Customers want to run their business and they WANT to pay you to make IT easier.

Services like SD-WAN, DDoS Protection, AI Based IDS/AMP, SaaS utilization management, Identity Management, snapshot recovery, long term archiving, abstractions like published apps or workspace platforms like AirWatch must ALL be managed to differentiate your services and create these solutions. Just as concepts like PSA, RMM, vCIO and QBRs became terms and concepts inherent in MSP 2.0 solutions, so too must these concepts now become second nature.

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