Business decision makers considering a cloud migration are often confronted with a dilemma: While they welcome the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of cloud computing, they are uncomfortable with keeping their data outside of their networks. Here's a closer look at the challenges and the solutions.
The conflict is especially problematic for professional services businesses that handle sensitive data subject to state and federal regulations on privacy, security and archiving. MSPs with clients in the legal, medical and financial field are well acquainted with the control issues and security concerns that come up in cloud discussions with clients.
In addition to security and privacy concerns, bandwidth concerns also come into play. While accessing Salesforce.com or Google Apps may work adequately enough for the average company, once you start piling on applications, virtual clients, and data backup and recovery to the cloud environment, network performance can take a serious hit. It’s true that transfer speeds through the public cloud have improved considerably, but bandwidth issues have not gone away.
Adding to the concerns, service outages that have affected some of the better-known cloud services providers, including Amazon and Microsoft, make decision makers nervous about the cloud. They know service outages translate to lost productivity with potential repercussions to the bottom line.
These obstacles to migrating clients to the cloud pose a serious challenge for MSPs that are considering, or have started the process of, reinventing themselves as full-fledged cloud services providers. I believe successful MSPs are cloud-ready from the operational and financial standpoints. Operationally, MSPs bring the experience of managing environments from afar with the use of RMM technology. Financially, the recurring revenue models applied to managed services are easily adaptable to the pay-as-you-grow subscription-based cloud services approach.
Apply Your Know-How to Private CloudsThe challenge is persuading clients, especially those in health care, finance and legal services, that cloud services are the way to go. For them, the most compelling argument MSPs can make is to steer them toward a private cloud, which delivers the benefits of the public Internet cloud while removing the security bogeyman so many decision makers fear.
With the private cloud, gone are the issues of data control and security because the data resides within the client’s network. The same holds true for bandwidth concerns. Since the data and all the computing resources remain within the network walls, the client will not be subjected to performance slowdowns resulting from traffic bottlenecking in the public cloud.
A private cloud approach carries added benefits that should make the transition to a cloud-based environment more palatable to the client. The adoption of cloud computing can be accomplished in an incremental way, so it’s not a situation in which you flip a switch and suddenly you’re in the cloud.
Clients can move resources to the cloud in small steps, perhaps starting out with storage and backup and recovery. Later, as existing equipment ages and needs to be replaced, the MSP can replace desktops with thin clients and physical servers with virtual servers that cost a fraction of the price of new hardware in addition to lowering power and cooling costs. The physical footprint also is reduced, further lowering overhead costs.
Where We Fit InZenith Infotech’s cloud strategy revolves around our SmartStyle private cloud solution, which can be deployed at customer sites. SmartStyle grows with the client’s needs. Resources can be added or scaled by activating nodes in a single streamlined hardware stack that runs the private cloud environment.
We believe the private cloud is not only the perfect solution for end users wanting to retain control over their IT resources but also an ideal way for MSPs to make themselves more relevant than ever to their customers. Through private clouds, MSPs deliver higher-quality IT services at affordable pay-as-you-grow pricing that removes unpredictability from IT expenses while significantly reducing overhead. This private cloud can easily be moved from the client premises to their data center, their technology provider’s data center or to a third party data center as the end client becomes more confident in shifting their infrastructure offsite.
Technology service providers know that one size does not fit all and the best thing they can do is be cloud consultants. Please visit our website to request a copy of our “Cloud Readiness Assessment” to see if your team is ready to address these challenges.
Maurice Saluan is VP-Channel Management for Zenith Infotech as well as seasoned sales veteran in the managed service arena. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of MSPmentor's 2010 Platinum sponsorship. Find all of Saluan’s blog entries here.