MSP Cloud Computing Strategies to Consider in 2015

February 6, 2015
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ImageManaged service providers (MSP) have some difficult decisions to make in the coming year. Many of the pressing questions they’re facing revolve around cloud computing as the cloud has become a technology now being embraced by mainstream businesses of all sizes and types.

ImageManaged service providers (MSP) have some difficult decisions to make in the coming year. Many of the pressing questions they’re facing revolve around cloud computing as the cloud has become a technology now being embraced by mainstream businesses of all sizes and types. Years ago, the dilemma surrounding the cloud was a relatively easy one to address, especially when clients were asking questions about what is cloud computing and how it could ultimately benefit their organizations. That was then, but Gartner now predicts that by 2016, organizations will store more than a third of their content on the cloud. Most clients are serious about adopting the technology, and they want their MSPs to make it happen. That means MSPs need to make sure their clients get it in 2015, but there’s no foolproof way to do it. The following are several strategies and methods to consider for successfully fulfilling the client’s demands for the cloud.

The first thing every managed service providers needs to have is a plan. That may seem unnecessarily basic, but it’s true that many MSPs don’t have a plan in place before delivering cloud computing to the client. MSPs need to craft a roadmap, something that will guide them through every step in the process. This isn’t just common sense; it saves on plenty of time and resources the further into the strategy you go. In many cases, planning can mean the difference between a successful cloud strategy and one that fails the client.

Of course, a plan is only the first step MSPs need to take. The next is to identify the right type of strategy that works best for the client. No matter the choice, it’s important for managed service providers to make it clear to the client what will happen, then deliver on those promises. In any scenario, the quality of service should still rank as a top priority, showing the client the worth of the MSP during a time of transition. But when it comes to offering a cloud computing service, there are a number of different strategies to think about. The first is a risk-taking strategy. A MSP that goes with this route actually foregoes partnering with any cloud provider and instead builds a private cloud. The main advantage of using this strategy is that it allows the MSP to retain absolute control over every aspect of the cloud. The downside is financial in nature. Building a cloud is a sizeable investment, and it will take a long time (around three years) to see a return on that investment. 

A second strategy is more conservative in nature. The conventional method is to look for a major cloud provider like Amazon or Microsoft to make the cloud a reality for the cloud. This strategy makes it easier for clients to buy into cloud computing, plus there’s very little risk. The disadvantage for the MSP is that competition among these cloud providers is intense and growing increasingly brutal. The third strategy is known as the trailblazer option, which features the MSP seeking a white-label provider. This means the MSP can offer enterprise-grade infrastructure at a low cost while maintaining a more agile operation. This added flexibility is particularly attractive to clients.

Once a strategy is decided upon, it’s time to start the process of cloud onboarding. This part of the plan can also be difficult and fraught with pitfalls, but MSPs should know about three steps that can maximize the chance for success. All MSPs need to properly analyze the business, technical, and application abilities of the client, which will help the MSP know how to proceed. The transition phase helps to lay out a blueprint, mapping out expectations as the move to the cloud is made, and pointing out the overall impact it will have on the organization. Once the onboarding is complete, MSPs should also do ongoing performance analyses in order to optimize the applications that are now on the cloud. 

Offering the cloud to clients can be a risky endeavor, but it’s a risk worth taking. Clients are much more interested in cloud computing than they were a few years ago, and managed service providers need to recognize this significant change. By following some of these steps and preparing the right strategy, MSPs can make sure the move to the cloud is a smooth and productive one.