It’s a topic that many IT solution providers and managed service providers (MSPs) are all too familiar with – the cloud. Every IT vendor on the planet is talking cloud services. One of the biggest in this field, Microsoft, is offering cloud-based Office 365 directly, cutting out IT resellers. With other vendors considering similar strategies, how will this affect IT companies that traditionally sold and maintained on-site solutions?
It’s increasingly looking as though the future of IT will see the majority of infrastructures moved to the cloud. Services such as hosted e-mail, off-site backup, VOIP and collaboration tools are natural fits for the cloud. End-users, familiar with services such as Facebook, are comfortable with this; the cloud is convenient and easy to use.
The Future of IT within SMB’s
But does this mean the future of IT within small and medium companies (SMBs) is to have a few PCs, some tablets, the odd printer, a wireless router and very little other “traditional” IT infrastructure on-site?
That’s a possibility, but in the very short term future the PC isn’t going away. There will still be Infrastructure on client sites that need monitoring and maintenance.
Other organizations cannot, or will not, move to the cloud with fears over security, lack of bandwidth, or simply the failure of key line of business (LoB) software vendors to cloud-enable their products. This means that the number of servers on-site will certainly reduce, but not disappear.
But all of that means it’s an increasingly shrinking pool of on-site infrastructure that IT companies can help their clients with.
How Does an MSP Remain Relevant?
How will the smaller MSP remain the “Go To” guy for customers in that scenario?
One answer is to continue to monitor and manage services – both those on-site and in the cloud. But surely one of the benefits of a cloud service is that the vendor is responsible for maintenance?
True – but just because a cloud vendor offers a 99.99% uptime guarantee, who is keeping check on them? What happens if the service is up 99.99% of the time, but unusably slow? What constitutes slow? How do you measure and manage this?
Reduced Maintenance, Increased Monitoring
MSPs may no longer be maintaining Exchange Servers that are hosted in the cloud; they can monitor such solutions to ensure that they are working as they should be. In the event of any issues, the MSP can talk with the cloud vendor in their own language to resolve problems – not the client wasting his time struggling to answer cloud vendor’s technical questions.
Website Performance Monitoring
If your clients host a website that offers products and services that can be bought online, while it’s easy to check whether a website is running, how can you check whether the check-out process is functioning? A website can appear to be great until a customer clicks “Buy” and receives a SQL error.
MSP’s can monitor for such challenges, using monitoring solutions like Monitis, and ensure that clients don’t lose customers and money to these issues.
What about if your client is hosting a website facing businesses in America and Europe – while you can easily check that these customers receive a snappy response from your own location, how do you measure the webpage loading time from the other side of the world?
MSP’s have the tools available to them to measure this.
This will be one area that MSPs can thrive. Monitoring those cloud services and stepping in when things aren’t right to help their clients make sense of the problem.
So while it is true that the number of on-site devices that MSPs can monitor and maintain is clearly reducing, there will still be opportunities to widen the scope of services that you can bring under your umbrella.
And for clients who are embracing the Cloud, MSPs have a unique opportunity to position themselves as the “Go-To” guys who can bring the old and new world together -- keeping themselves relevant and valuable at the same time.
Hovhannes Avoyan is CEO and founder Monitis (Twitter: @Monitis), a leading provider ofweb and cloud monitoring solutions. He is a computer science veteran with over 27 years programming and management experience.