Memo to MSPs: Manage Client Services, We’ll Manage the Cloud
According to a Gartner report, by 2012, 52% of midsize businesses expect they will have adopted some form of cloud computing. SMBs are starting to experiment with cloud computing, and most that haven’t yet are at least starting to think about it. With significant operational and financial benefits to be reaped, cloud computing has major appeal for small businesses. SMBs are one of the largest customer bases for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) , so it should come as no surprise that these companies are often looking for expert. Now is your opportunity to provide them guidance on this next biggest tech trend – cloud hosting.
Cloud is a major opportunity for many of your customers, but it can also be a source of worry for others. While the cloud can offer cost savings by preventing companies from having to make hardware investments, some companies are also concerned about how to manage an environment they know very little about.
Luckily for you – and your customers – there’s a way for companies to leverage the cloud and have someone else manage it. Managed cloud offerings, like the one Rackspace Hosting recently launched, gives companies the ability to utilize cloud computing without having to manage it day-to-day. With advanced monitoring tools, operating systems, application support and technical guidance, SMBs can focus on running their business while the experts focus on managing the cloud. This is great news for MSPs since it also means that you don’t need to manage an environment that might fall outside your core business either – which translates to more time focused on guiding your customers strategically through the forest of technology.
So what exactly is managed cloud? It’s a cloud offering that’s really ideal for companies that want to transition to a cloud environment for on-demand availability, flexibility and scalability, but lack internal resources or cloud expertise.
Pieces of the Puzzle
Let’s take a closer look at what makes up managed cloud offerings, and how it can help benefit you and your customers.
- Monitoring: Managed cloud offerings provide a variety of different monitoring tools and methods. While many companies, especially small businesses, prefer to hand over the reins completely, there are other organizations that still want the ability to help identify and rectify issues in the cloud as they arise. A solid offering will provide round the clock monitoring alerts and rapid response to those alerts. Depending on the level of control a company wants to share with its cloud provider and MSP, alerts can be sent to the customer, provider and directly to the MSP. In some cases the provider can also be authorized to troubleshoot and fix problems before customers even know they exist. On the flip side, your customers and you can maintain full control at all times – if it’s desired. Even with that control, your provider can still troubleshoot and fix issues in real time.
- OS and Application Support: Support for just the cloud environment is nice, but in order to really provide the kind of managed experience that your customers expect from you, it’s critical that you partner with a cloud provider that can also provide support on the operating and application layers as well. Whether it’s working with you on a patch or an update, a good managed cloud provider knows that these layers play a role in the overall environment and must also be monitored and addressed to ensure success in the cloud.
- Specialists in Cloud: In addition to monitoring and support, expertise is key in managed cloud. It’s hard to know when something is wrong – or how to fix it – especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Managed cloud offerings run by cloud experts will ensure that from the day your environment is up and running, someone who knows exactly what to look for is managing your cloud. Cloud environments also aren’t stagnant. They often change and grow as the company’s needs change, so make sure you’re working with a partner that can help you and your customer plan for that future growth and maximize their cloud environment.
It’s the best of both worlds: a managed cloud that you can control if and when you want to, or can offload management to the experts when you need to, with support and service across the entire environment. For some companies though, the rubber meets the road when an issue occurs and they’re feeling vulnerable if it’s all up to them. In an environment their trusty MSP controls they can feel confident that if something goes wrong it’ll get fixed fast. To help give you that confidence, make sure you’re working with a company that provides anytime, anywhere accessibility and support.
As MSPs and their clients know very well, when you entrust something core to your business to someone else you’re taking a leap of faith. Make sure that leap is protected by a big net that offers more than just an online service ticket submission. A solid managed cloud provider will give you many options for getting help if and when you need it, everything from talking phone calls, online chat, e-mails, and yes, even that trusty service ticket. When you’re focusing on running your business – and in turn helping your customers run theirs – you can leave the cloud management up to the experts. Just make sure you know you can trust them.