From Rackspace to AWS to Azure, there's no shortage of cloud hosting platforms available today.
One thing that sets them apart is the degree of managed services available from each cloud host.
This is a key differentiator that MSPs need to understand when building a managed service offering.
All of the major cloud-hosting platforms provide the same basic thing: Cloud-based infrastructure that organizations can use to run physical and/or virtual servers that host their workloads.
The details of the hosting plans, prices and features of each platform vary, but that's fodder for a separate article.
This article's goal is to compare the extent to which managed services are built into each major cloud platform, how easy it is to obtain third-party managed services and which cloud platforms are most in need of additional managed-service help.
CLOUD PLATFORMS COMPARED
Toward that end, here's how cloud hosts stack up on the managed services front:
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
AWS is probably the best known cloud host in the market today.
It has a built-in Managed Services feature, but what AWS calls Managed Services is actually just an automation tool.
That said, because AWS has been around for so long, the actual managed services market around AWS is already very crowded.
AWS is an important cloud platform to support if you want to build a comprehensive MSP business that covers all cloud vendors.
But if you're trying to build a niche MSP offering based on cloud hosting, AWS isn't a good place to start.
The AWS managed services market is already saturated.
Azure is also a well-established cloud-hosting platform.
Its features and functionality mirror those of AWS, to a large extent.
Azure doesn't have any built-in managed services offering, and it's somewhat harder to find Azure third-party managed services support for Azure than it is for AWS.
Still, the Azure managed services market is pretty mature.
Rackspace, which began as a cloud infrastructure company, has shifted gears and now focuses heavily on managed services.
Its most recent move in this vein was its recent TriCore acquisition.
As a result, Rackspace is not a good cloud host to focus on if you want to build an MSP offering.
Rackspace already provides managed support for its infrastructure.
Indeed, Rackspace even offers managed services for other clouds, including AWS and Azure.
This means Rackspace is now a competitor with MSPs in all areas of the cloud.
DigitalOcean, which markets itself as a cloud-hosting platform for developers, is not as big a cloud host as AWS or Azure, but it ranks on any shortlist of major cloud providers.
DigitalOcean doesn't offer managed services for its infrastructure, although third-party companies do.
Because DigitalOcean managed services is a smaller market, it is easier for new MSPs to enter.
Linode is another cloud host that pitches itself as a platform for developers.
It provides hosting on high-performance Linux servers.
Like Rackspace, Linode has expanded its managed service offerings in recent years.
Linode's managed services aren't totally comprehensive, but the company offers backups, incident management and other types of professional services.
There is some opportunity for third-party vendors to add extra managed services around the Linode platform that are not offered by Linode itself.
Vultr is a cloud host that focuses on high-performance virtual servers.
The company doesn't offer managed services itself, but it partners with Cloudways to provide professional services.
Still, there is room in the Vultr managed services market for other MSPs.