Businesses are moving to the cloud at an accelerating pace. A recent report from 451 Research indicates that by 2018, 60 percent of all enterprise workloads are expected to be based in the cloud. Yet many companies are still hesitating – not because they doubt the value of the cloud to their businesses, but because they recognize that moving their existing workloads to an entirely new platform is not a trivial task.
That trepidation represents an opportunity for managed services providers. A recent study on enterprise digital transformation conducted by 451 Research found that 49 percent of respondents say their organizations plan to call upon the assistance of an IT services partner as they evolve their IT operations. Many MSPs have built strong relationships with their customers by providing sound strategic guidance and operational excellence in implementing, managing, and supporting the customer’s IT infrastructure in a datacenter environment. Now, as customers face the need to move into the cloud, it would be natural for them to continue to rely on the partner on whom they already depend if that MSP has the requisite skills.
What Customers Need From Their MSPs
According to Chad Bockius, CEO of CopperEgg, “The biggest issue for organizations moving to the cloud is fear of the unknown.”
The first thing many customers will need from their MSP partner is proactive assistance in developing a roadmap for the transformation of the customer’s IT infrastructure from its datacenter-bound past to a cloud-centered future.
MSPs will need to be able to provide services such as the following:
- Identify how migration to the cloud fits into the customer’s strategic business plan.
- Analyze the benefits and costs (both operational and financial) of moving to the cloud.
- Audit current IT operations to determine which workloads and applications are good candidates for migration to the cloud, and which should, at least in the beginning, remain on site. Some workloads should not be migrated for data security, regulatory compliance, or performance reasons. Some legacy applications might need to be extensively rewritten to make them suitable for implementation in a cloud environment. The audit should surface such issues and make recommendations concerning how each should be handled.
- Identify the cloud-based SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), STaaS (Storage-as-a-Service), or IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) offerings that are available to fulfill the requirements of current and future customer workloads.
- Determine the mix of public and private cloud platforms that can best serve the customer’s specific needs.
- Lay out a detailed migration plan that ensures minimal downtime and maximum data security.
How MSPs Can Position Themselves to Provide Cloud Migration Services
For many traditional MSPs, the list of services they’ll be called on to provide in helping customers migrate to the cloud can seem overwhelming. In fact, that fear of the unknown Chad Bockius speaks of often applies as much to MSPs as to their customers. Managed service providers usually have a good understanding of their customers’ current operations, but may lack in-depth experience with the various cloud platforms.
For such MSPs an attempt to develop, on their own, the levels of the experience and expertise required to successfully navigate the complexities of cloud migration and implementation would probably be a losing proposition. But the good news is that it’s not necessary. For every facet of a cloud migration and implementation project, capable third party providers are available who will gladly add their specialized expertise to the effort. The most important contribution of an MSP may not be as the direct implementer of every part of the cloud strategy, but as an integrator the customer can trust to reliably orchestrate the efforts of a team of partners.
A good example of an expert partner is STaaS provider Zadara Storage. Its VPSA Storage Array technology is already installed in the facilities of major cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and more. When these devices are also installed in customer data centers, the usually complex and time-consuming process of migrating applications and data to the cloud can be made seamless and non-disruptive.
If you would like to know more about how partnering with Zadara can help you develop and implement a comprehensive plan for migrating your customers to the cloud, please download the ‘Zadara Storage Cloud’ whitepaper.