Small group of people working in a conference room

State of the Cloud for Service Providers

19 Feb 2016 by Howard M Cohen

At Insight, we talk to our readers about being service providers because it’s not as limiting as Managed Services Providers (MSPs). While MSPs are the tacit industry standard nomenclature, it suggests the role involves managing services. We’ve found that the partners we work with do far more than simply manage existing deployments. They also design, develop, deploy, configure, construct, test, provision, migrate, transfer, install, integrate, implement, optimize, train, service and support information technology systems and services.

For some time, there has been a myth perpetuated that the cloud presents some odd kind of challenge to MSPs. Those who would attempt to continue to leverage the artificial “mystique” around cloud computing would suggest that there must be some sort of transition to go through. Many will then offer to train and prepare MSPs to undergo this fictional transition. Caveat emptor.

Let’s face it, a server is a server, no matter where it is located. Ask IT managers who have co-located equipment, and they’ll tell you that their servers and storage still need to be properly and effectively managed. That doesn’t change. What does change is that they don’t need to concern themselves with what is popularly referred to as “the grunt work” of physically maintaining the machines and their connections. Whether using co-location, hosting or cloud services, the provider does the heavy lifting, which frees MSP resources to focus on more productive, and profitable, work.

The channel spent many years arguing about what exactly the cloud is. Ultimately, they came to realize that it’s simply a less expensive, higher quality way of delivering needed IT services.

As IT infrastructure evolves, so must service providers

“If you’re doing what you’ve always done, you’re probably getting what you’ve always got.” These words from the sales motivator, Zig Ziglar, should always remain the clarion call to all service providers. As with everything in the IT industry, remaining alive and thriving requires service providers to be innovative.

In the context of service providers, the IT infrastructure support services that have always been provided are quickly becoming commoditized. Mammoth providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM Softlayer, Google, RackSpace and others, are all vying to become customers’ infrastructure. Just as the early days of the cloud eroded server and storage sales for IT resellers, subscription-based infrastructure will surely erode sales of some infrastructure-centered services.

One of the areas in which customers will most need services will be in the area of application delivery and optimization. Cloud applications are at the core of everything when it comes to IT, so customers will be clamoring for help in migrating applications to cloud platforms, integrating their on-premises data centers with cloud-based resources, and assuring interoperability of every computer, tablet, smartphone and all the billions of devices slated to join the Internet of Things (IoT).

Do you know whether to migrate apps to the cloud?

It would probably be more appropriate to say “when” to migrate apps to the cloud.

Right now we’re working in a highly charged, very competitive environment where all players will do everything to retain and increase their leadership positions. The largest concern among most analysts is vendor lock-in. Each vendor offers specific services and standards, which differ significantly from competitors. The most challenging aspect for customers comes in the modifications that must be performed should they decide to switch cloud providers. The key is to not overspend on protecting against lock-in when the cost exceeds what would be spent on transitioning.

It’s the dis-integration of application

What’s occurring is a dis-integration of applications from processors, networks, platforms, data and storage. When each of these components is separated by layers of abstraction or containerization, the opportunity to achieve interoperability rises.

Will you become a developer?

One of the concerns expressed by many service providers when discussing the commoditization of business for IT infrastructure is that all that will be for them to do is become developers for cloud applications. This is simply not the case. Service providers have always been in the business of moving data from place to place. The transition is an exciting one filled with opportunity. Service providers will now also be far more responsible for incorporating the cloud into their regular services.

Diversify your portfolio.

We’ll help you get the technology you need without unnecessary costs.

Learn more