Start Thinking About Cloud Infrastructure Now While You Have Time to Test the WatersStart Thinking About Cloud Infrastructure Now While You Have Time to Test the Waters
Change is the only constant in our industry and in life. You can either embrace the changes that come along, evolving how you present services to your clients, or you can slowly lose relevance and fade out of the big picture. The choice is yours.
January 8, 2015
The future of IT infrastructure is changing. My friend, BJ Farmer over at CITOC, is fond of reminding me that Change is the Only Constant (see what CITOC stands for?).
It’s true for most everything in life, and especially true for our industry. You can either embrace the changes that come along, evolving how you present services to your clients, or you can slowly lose relevance and fade out of the big picture. The choice is yours.
Right now, change comes from The Cloud.
Yes, there is definitely a lot of hype about the cloud, and it’s easy to grumble about fads and look at the big cloud migration as a bandwagon everyone’s too eager to jump on. But the plain fact is that the cloud is providing affordable, smart alternatives to the kind of infrastructure that used to be the bread and butter of an MSP, and it’s not going anywhere. So you can either keep railing against the cloud, running your Exchange servers and piecing together various services from different partners, or you can start thinking about how to offer innovative solutions for your clients by STRATEGICALLY leveraging the cloud.
Brandon Kolybaba at Cloud-A in Canada recognized the writing on the wall and created a “True Cloud” platform for MSPs and other partners to build unique cloud infrastructure in.
“Traditional IT infrastructure is expensive, painful to manage and inflexible,” said Brandon. “We are part of a major global movement that is changing the way IT infrastructure is delivered.”
Rather than packaging up a file share solution, a virtualized email server, and a remote desktop, Brandon and his team created a clean virtual platform with tools to make it easy for anyone to create unique, virtual systems for their clients. Cloud servers, desktops, applications, storage… you name it, it can go in Cloud-A. This is particularly huge in Canada, where there are a lot of regulations surrounding data storage that mandate the data centres be located on Canadian soil.
And Brandon is thinking about how to help MSPs use this platform to better serve and sell to their clients. “We don't do services at all,” said Brandon. “We're just the infrastructure and network component, but it's on-demand and there's no lock-in. It's a nice model for folks that don't want to invest in more hardware or don't know if their customer is going to be there 3 years from now. There's no risk associated with this.”
Joerg Laves from IT Secure in Manchester, NH has been using the cloud as a conversation starter with his clients for some time, talking about cloud backup in particular. “When the snow storm hits, find an open coffee shop and work from your internet enabled device, even if the lights are out in the office. Cloud servers run on redundant infrastructure, with multiple power and Internet sources. The cloud is less costly, since no infrastructure needs to be purchased, and it scales better (up and down) since capacity can be changed with a few keystrokes; no hardware.”
But you can’t just toss your clients headfirst into the cloud and wish them luck. Business owners are getting savvier, and they’ve heard enough stories about cloud services to have serious questions that you’ll need to answer. As BJ says, “If you ask ten people what the cloud is, you’ll get ten answers. The cloud means something different to each person.”
Clients will be worried about where their data actually resides, and Joerg noted that it can be a point of contention, since clients “Can’t ‘touch’ their data, and are reliant on the cloud provider.” This may be where you need to either provide more information about how your partner data centres work, or perhaps consider providing a hybrid solution.
Security is the other major sticking point when it comes to the cloud. You need to be prepared with immediate answers about how you’ll protect the data of your clients when you move them into a cloud infrastructure. Cloud-A in particular has been designed with security in mind. “We lock everything down by default,” said Brandon. “We open what you need for what you need it for, and then we monitor the hell out of it.”
Ultimately, change is coming, and you’re going to have to roll with it. Don’t be afraid of it, and embrace the benefits that will come with cloud infrastructure. But don’t just jump in without testing the water first. BJ’s advice for MSPs dealing with the cloud is sound: “Cloud has its benefits and drawbacks. There is a suite of cloud services out there and not all things belong in the cloud. Any service, be it cloud or something else that enhances the way companies do business, should be considered.”
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