Ticket to the Future: MSPs Need a Cloud Strategy Now

As the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing gain traction, MSPs should be positioning themselves to seize new revenue opportunities. The problem is too many still lack a cloud strategy, and without one, it will be nearly impossible to leverage IoT and edge opportunities.

Without the cloud, IoT and edge computing don’t exist. While it’s true that machine-to-machine (M2M) installations have been in place for decades, they have consisted of industrial implementations relying on analog systems to transmit information.

An essential piece of the IoT puzzle is to securely connect those industrial systems to cloud-based IoT implementations so data can flow back and forth. But for that data to travel quickly enough to enable real-time analysis, another crucial piece of the puzzle needs to be in place – edge computing. Edge will consist of small data centers that will sprout outside the network perimeter to deliver the processing power necessary for those real-time requirements.

Both the edge data centers and IoT need a cloud infrastructure to operate efficiently, securely and cost-effectively. This means a cloud strategy is the ticket to the future for MSPs. Yet, most still struggle with how to leverage the cloud.

Missing the Boat

Unfortunately, recent studies have shown cloud opportunities have largely bypassed the MSPs and the channel at large. TechTarget’s Channel Directions survey in July 2016 revealed more than half of respondents – about 55 percent – weren’t offering any cloud services.

Forty percent said they did, but the cloud accounts for a small portion of their revenue. “Cloud services represent 11.5 percent of the typical channel partner’s business mix — trailing other revenue contributors such as product sales, consulting, IT project work and managed services.”

An earlier study, CompTIA’s Fifth Annual Trends in Managed Services, discovered the cloud is a big worry for MSPs. “Nearly two thirds of MSPs (62 percent) said that cloud computing is the No. 1 item keeping them awake at night.” This fear, the study found, was “evenly distributed across MSPs of all sizes.”

The fear is that customers don’t need MSPs to procure cloud-based applications. That may be so but often when companies adopt cloud services, the decision is made outside of IT. Different departments procure solutions on their own, creating management and security challenges. They may not realize it at first, but those companies need an MSP to properly manage their cloud investments.

Develop a Strategy

But as an MSP, before you can help customers manage the cloud, you need a cloud strategy. As companies large and small migrate applications to the cloud, turn on new services in the cloud, and take advantage of cloud infrastructures so they don’t have build them in-house, there are more than enough opportunities for MSPs to play a role.

Hosting applications is an obvious one, but it isn’t the only one. Customers will need third-party expertise to manage and secure the whole infrastructure. And that should be you. Even if customers at first try to manage their cloud infrastructures themselves and deal directly with vendors, they’re bound to seek third-party help once things get too complicated or problems occur.

Once you’ve established yourself as a cloud services provider, you’ll be able to parlay that experience into IoT and edge computing environments. But if you wait too long, not only will cloud opportunities pass you by but also those related to IoT and edge computing.

For more on MSPs’ complicated relationship with the cloud:

https://www.comptia.org/resources/5th-annual-trends-in-managed-services

http://cloudtweaks.com/2015/08/managed-services-providers-msps-urged-to-embrace-the-cloud/

Learn more about edge computing:

http://blog.apc.com/2016/07/26/three-surprising-edge-computing-opportunities-solution-providers/

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