April 4, 2013
By Continuum Guest Blog 1
At first glance, the cloud could disrupt managed services providers (MSPs). But take a closer look and you'll find that progressive MSPs aren't worried about the cloud at all. Instead, they treat cloud services just like another node on the customer network. But how can MSPs manage those new cloud workloads, and what should MSPs demand from their RMM (remote monitoring and management) software providers?
I've got a seven-part answer to that question. It includes:
1. One dashboard for all: Each week I hear about a new cloud monitoring company getting funded. New tools are coming onto the market all the time. Will MSPs fall for this Yet Another Tool (YAT) syndrome? Not the smart ones. Indeed, the best MSPs will seek to make sure their existing RMM software has been extended for cloud monitoring. The goal of RMM has always been to offer one dashboard for all monitoring and management. That doesn't change with cloud computing.
2. Any Cloud, Any Location: Many RMM tools are starting to integrate with BDR (backup and disaster recovery) platforms in the cloud. That's a nice first step. But MSPs must demand that their RMM platforms can monitor workloads on public clouds like Amazon, Rackspace and more. Customers want open choice on the cloud. Your monitoring capabilities have to support that customer choice.
3. Physical or Virtual: The MSP market grew up managing physical hardware. But VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V are marching down from enterprise systems into the SMB market. Also, VMware, Hyper-V and other virtualization software are the building blocks for the cloud. If you can't monitor and manage both physical and virtual systems, you're missing a big piece of the picture.
4. From Any Endpoint: PCs aren't going away, but MSPs were early adopters of tablets and smartphones. MSPs are mobilized. RMM software, likewise, must also be mobilized to work on all of the major post-PC era devices. Apple iOS and Google Android are the starting points, but demand a long-term roadmap from your RMM providers to make sure they've got all the bases covered.
5. Enterprise-class Leadership: Great technology doesn't always succeed. Software and IT companies often collapse because they lack enterprise-class executive leadership. As you interact with potential MSP software suppliers, be sure to investigate how the company is funded; how the executive team was built; and the key achievements each executive team member brings to the table. On the one hand, make sure the executive team has a vision that aligns with your business goals. But on the other, also make sure the executive team has a track record of delivering on their vision statements and R&D promises.
6. Don't Forget the NOC: Let's assume you've found the single dashboard for managing all customer assets — on premise, cloud, physical, virtual, mobile, etc. You still have a big potential weakness: Most MSPs don't have the time, financial resources or technical expertise to build a world-class NOC (network operations center). The ideal solution is seamless integration between your RMM software and a world-class NOC team.
7. Responsive End-user Support: When customers call with technical questions regarding cloud services, they expect immediate response, courteous service and expert problem resolution – 24 x 7, 365 days a year. Better yet, the service desk should be integrated with your RMM software and dedicated NOC. If your service desk isn’t available around the clock, consider partnering with a provider who can fill the gaps.
Here at Continuum Managed Services, we're focused like a laser on this seven-point list. We've executed against the list. And our MSP partners are profiting from this approach. But we realize we're on a journey with our MSPs. As an MSP, what new approaches or technologies are you demanding from your RMM and NOC providers? Feel free to post a comment or send me an email [email protected]. I look forward to your thoughts.
Steve Ricketts is VP of Marketing, Continuum, which provides an end-to-end intelligent remote monitoring and management solution, 24 x 7 Service Desk, and business continuity platform offering – all integrated with a 24/7 Network Operations Center (NOC) that enables MSPs to profitably backup, monitor, troubleshoot and maintain IT environments. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor's annual platinum sponsorship.
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