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August 24, 2017
By Ryan Walsh, SVP of Partner Solutions, Pax8
Making the leap to the cloud is becoming more of a necessity than a choice for managed service providers (MSPs). Gartner predicts that public cloud services will grow by 18 percent in 2017 compared to 2016; by 2020, cloud-adoption strategies will influence more than half of IT outsourcing deals.
These numbers make it apparent that companies of all sizes are realizing just how much cost savings, scalability and efficiency can be gained from moving key functions to the cloud, and they’re not going to wait around for you to start offering those services. If customers can’t procure cloud services from you, they’re likely to look elsewhere.
Most organizations are already using the cloud in some capacity, but they’re ready to move more of their business processes and infrastructure to the cloud.
Whether it be standard business applications, such as Microsoft 365 or Exchange Online, cloud-based applications have become commonplace at most companies. Because of these widely-used cloud app successes, many organizations are more comfortable with the idea of moving bigger functions – like infrastructure – to the cloud.
Two drivers for cloud adoption are: getting a premium experience at an affordable price, and time savings.
Many customers rely on critical cloud apps to manage key business functions such as payroll, banking, collaboration, document sharing, etc. The security and control fears of a few years ago aren’t as prevalent today. In fact, some organizations cite enhanced security as a reason for moving to the cloud. Even though data isn’t housed on-site, companies can typically achieve higher measures of security at a lower cost by using premium cloud infrastructure and cloud-optimized security solutions offered through their MSP.
For example, there are Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) vendors that deliver to clients 99.95 percent uptime and best-in-class security. MSPs that partner with such top cloud infrastructure providers, that often have locations across the globe, give their customers access to reliability, scalability and security features that traditionally only Fortune 500 companies could afford.
Achieving 99.95 percent uptime and holding top security credentials is both costly and difficult to maintain with an on-site or homegrown solution especially one challenged with workloads that must quickly scale. However, by “renting” space in someone else’s state-of-the-art data center, organizations can benefit from top-notch security standards, instant scalability and much more. That’s the beauty of cloud services.
Through automation and integration, tasks that once took days for MSPs to complete, virtually go away — freeing employees to focus on more strategic work like accelerating service innovations on behalf of their customers, or improving operational excellence by simplifying processes. Many cloud distributors offer tools that help MSPs shorten the time it takes to get things done. Whether it is through aggregated billing, auto provisioning of cloud services, or building custom stacks of solutions for your customers, look for distributor partners who understand how …
… to help you in the cloud. Removing process friction can help you become more agile for your customers.
The channel is increasingly trying to capitalize on the hot cloud business opportunity. To make sure your organization is successful in developing a cloud practice, or expanding its cloud practice, factor these six essential elements into your decision-making process:
Pricing. Margins matter and profit is essential to a successful cloud strategy. When selecting cloud solutions to add to your service suite, make double-digit margins a priority, right after capabilities and ease of use. You can do this by partnering with a cloud-focused distributor that understands your business goals and can help you vet cloud vendors. They will give you the tools you need to fuel your profits.
Multi-customer Management. Beyond offering your wish list of features and tools, cloud solutions need to be easy to deploy and maintain across your customer base. Push for cloud solutions that offer MSP management consoles capable of giving you visibility and management of multiple customers with a single login. Make sure your team has a chance to test the solution to make sure it’s a good fit for your current ecosystem and easy to manage multiple customers from a central management console.
Automated Central Billing. You can find the most feature-rich, easy-to-implement cloud solution, but if it doesn’t provide you with a clean way to manage the billing and usage surrounding your new offering, it’s going to add an unnecessary administrative burden to your team. Top cloud solutions integrate with common billing platforms and automate much of the billing process saving you time and headaches so that you can do something more productive with your time.
Self-serve Portal. Customers’ admins need a way to perform essential functions without you — and without leaving you out of the loop. A self-serve portal can empower your customer’s IT admin to order or try cloud products, provision licenses, make incremental updates and track current subscription counts. Look for self-serve portals from vendors or cloud distributors that have delegated admin privileges so that you can configure them to fit your business model and cloud delivery processes.
Unified Management. Automate and aggregate provisioning with a unified management console. Look for cloud-distributor partners who offer a unified cloud management console. With just a few clicks, this capability enables you to provision an entire stack of cloud services for your customer from one place. In addition, you’ll also get real-time dashboard visibility into product usage and customer-account information across your entire customer base.
Sales and Support Assistance. Ensure that the cloud vendor or distributor you choose can deliver on-demand sales assistance and 24/7 support. Customer business needs arise in an instant and emergencies happen. You’ll want to know you can get the help you need when you need it or when something goes wrong. Your reputation will depend on it. Therefore, select cloud vendors or distributors who can be as responsive as your customers need you to be.
Ryan Walsh is senior vice president of partner solutions at Pax8. He has more 15 years of experience helping channel partners build successful cloud practices by enabling them to easily sell, bill, and support cloud subscription services.
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