The adoption of Cloud services is driving an evolution of the IT services landscape, forcing IT service providers to either embrace a Managed Service Provider (MSP) model or quickly be pushed out by those that do. Where being a value-added reseller (VAR) was once the optimal service model, the managed services model is now paving the way forward without signs of stopping. This shift is driven by factors such as the ever-increasing barrage of cyber attacks against SMBs, the continued transition to the Cloud, and a transformation of SMB consumption models towards more flexible, subscription-based terms. 2019 and 2020 are pivotal years in which IT service providers face a junction in the road: make the transition to full MSP model or risk getting left behind.
But how? IT service providers can stay ahead by adopting technology that supports a service-based delivery model. That means technology that can elastically scale – without limits – to meet quickly changing customer needs, simplify the delivery of services with automation, free them from the cost and time constraints of infrastructure – all while providing real-time, actionable insights into their customers’ networks.
Of the many costs an MSP must consider when trying to grow their business, infrastructure can be the most prohibitive. Often times, business owners are faced with difficult challenges like sizing server equipment. Is that on a per-customer or per-project scale? Is that sizing a step-function, or does it grow linearly? How many people does the MSP need to hire to maintain that infrastructure? How soon will that infrastructure need to be swapped out for newer equipment? Another route could be to sell everything on-premises to the customer, but that makes scaling maintenance even more insurmountable as its completely decentralized.
Cloud solutions eliminate that need for MSP-managed infrastructure. The onus for all of that activity is now on the vendors, leaving only packaging and margins calculations to the MSPs – a much more appealing position to be in.
Not all Cloud solutions are created equal, however. MSPs should seek Cloud solutions that have a variety of features that are intended and designed to help grow their businesses.
- Multi-tier, Multi-tenant Architecture
- There are many Cloud solutions available, but only strongly consider those that are truly multi-tiered and multi-tenanted (i.e., they can scale horizontally and vertically without limit), as those allow them to create and onboard any number and type of customer accounts, while also ensuring separation of data between tenants and role-based access to information.
- Scalable Performance
- Just because something is in the Cloud, does not mean it’s fast. A premium Cloud platform should not only respond automatically to the changing compute and storage requirements of an MSP’s customers, but also enable that MSP to run reports in seconds across terabytes of data.
- Consolidated Inventory and Licensing Management Tools
- It’s one thing to be able to log into a solution and see what licenses are active. MSPs should seek vendors who set the bar higher and include features like license allocation and account delegation. Inventory management features not only let MSPs view and track licensing across all customers, but also have the ability to allocate and deallocate services to those customers on terms that fit their service models. Additional key features like access delegation provide MSPs with even more flexibility in how they want to sell and activate products.
- Automated Alerts & Notifications
- As MSPs look to consolidate Cloud solutions to a few platforms as possible in pursuit of streamlining management, alerts and notifications play a big role. A premium Cloud platform allows MSPs to not only quickly and easily configure alerts and notifications across all security applications, but also access notifications on anything from customer licenses, usage or expirations to security and performance updates.
Features like this, consolidated into a single platform, enable MSPs to focus on more core tenets of their businesses: customer acquisition, onboarding, and service delivery. MSPs should be selective as they make the move to the Cloud, not only because it helps them increase their margins and revenue potential, but also because it helps them have greater insight across their businesses and customers’ networks. They should look for a premium Cloud platform, one that delivers true multi-tier, multi-tenant capabilities, scaling automatically to allow them to create and manage an unlimited number of customer accounts, inventory, and licenses, deploy and manage new services, and gain valuable insights into a customer’s network.