Evolving Expectations of a Modern Managed Service Provider
Accelerated Cloud adoption is opening new avenues for MSPs to differentiate and lead
As enterprises race to redefine their businesses and unlock new revenue streams, Cloud is playing an even bigger role in underpinning this transformation. Across 2018, Cloud has indeed become a critical enabler and the discussion has shifted towards realizing an optimal cloud-enabled operating model. The pivot is anything but easy, especially for enterprises in the lower enterprise (200 – 5,000 employees) segment. These companies often lack both economies of scale and economies of expertise, requiring partner assistance in both defining the cloud blueprint and realizing the associated vision. This has fueled an explosion of Managed Service Providers (MSPs), leading to what Gartner calls an “MSP gold rush”. Thousands of outfits have rebranded themselves overnight as Multi-cloud Managed Services Providers (MSPs), increasing clutter and confusion in the marketplace.
For MSPs, rising above the noise requires concerted effort, not just in branding and positioning, but in manifesting the required delivery capabilities and customer experience. These delivery credentials can be largely grouped into three dimensions: Enable, Optimize, and Innovate.
Enable is about bringing the right expertise and experience in defining the cloud operating model for enterprises with a phased plan to achieve the desired outcomes. Enterprise IT organizations need a wholesale shift in capabilities including modern software architectures optimized for public cloud, massive upskilling of technical skillsets, and improved agility in internal processes and governance. Collectively, we refer to these as the cloud operating model, a key area where MSPs can help their customers reorient their capabilities, thereby accelerating the often-stated benefits of Cloud including improved agility, security, resiliency, and efficiency.
Optimize is about delivering strong technical expertise, backed by a well-orchestrated set of processes and tools, to provide run-time governance and support in a multi-cloud model. This implies a consistent and curated set of value-added managed services (monitoring, incident and change management, patching, resilience, compliance, etc.) across a broad breadth of infrastructure deployment models (public cloud, private cloud, bare-metal) with an intrinsic focus on security. In addition, the MSP also needs to manifest strong governance and oversight, with a lens on managing multi-cloud. This is a journey that warrants continuous optimization delivering a rich set of analytics aimed at continuous optimization (performance, cost, security).
Innovate is the least manifested of the three dimensions across the MSP community and one that holds the most potential to differentiate. This is about bringing a rich set of consulting skills and ability to operationalize, all aimed at coupling technology with business impact. Increasingly data is the lifeblood of digital businesses and a key near-term potential for MSPs to offer value-added services is in the data and analytics dimension. A top challenge cited by CIOs is the mass data fragmentation problem plaguing their data estate and their desire to shift focus from data collection to data connection. Near-term, MSPs have a tremendous opportunity to differentiate by bringing a stronger focus on data, both in harnessing and normalizing the data estate, and leveraging the potential of a hybrid cloud model to accelerate key analytics use cases.
Over the last few years, we have transformed our own value proposition at Navisite as a modern, multi-cloud MSP. We have achieved this by leveraging the breath of our expertise to differentiate, not just in the Enable and Optimize dimensions but equally in the Innovate arena. With our strong and well-established data practice, we are harnessing these capabilities to help our clients modernize their data estate, eliminate data silos, and establish centralized control of their data. The improved analytics result in valuable and actionable insights for our clients.