3 data challenges facing MSPs in a multi-cloud environment

In the multi-cloud space, data dominates just about any conversation. It is the need to collect, store, manage and analyze increasing volumes of data that gave rise to the cloud market in the first place.

For an MSP, there are two equally important sides to the data story. First is the client side – enterprises turn to an MSP to address their data privacy, security and sovereignty concerns. Second is the data essential to the MSP’s business – the data related to the delivery, management, and billing of cloud services.

It is the latter where MSPs face critical challenges to survive and thrive in a multi-cloud environment. Here are three.

1. Data that is too stale to matter

We’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating because it stings enterprises every day. The ease and convenience of ramping up cloud resources on demand can quickly lead to cloud sprawl and surging costs.

The problem is that the pricing and usage data that can be pulled from a public cloud is not reliable. Current tools will provide a snapshot of a current configuration, with a cost estimate. But then someone within the enterprise decides to move a workload or use more storage or draw more computing capacity. Within minutes, that snapshot is out of date.

Enterprises need their MSPs to provide them with detail on par with a wireless phone bill, and not just at month end, but through every minute of every day. Like we’ve said before, real-time data is the only data that matters.

You can’t do that natively out of the box with any of the big cloud services.

2. Data that doesn’t connect the dots

Assuming that reliable and current data is available, it must still be organized and classified for effective cost management. Otherwise, how can an enterprise’s IT department trace back resource usage for showback and chargeback to departments within the organization?

As it stands now, the typical bill from one of the big cloud providers provides no segmentation by service or end user. Ten different developers could be using those services, and there is no easy way to know if one person is the resource hog responsible for the XX increase from the month prior.

This lack of visibility can also be costly when data or workloads are being transferred from one cloud to another.

Again, this kind of segmentation isn’t an option out of the box with the big guys.

3. Data that doesn’t yield real-time insight

When enterprises embark on a multi-cloud strategy, they often face Rubik’s Cube-level complexity. Sure, they can attempt to plot out their workload demand patterns, to estimate and predict their needs before they go shopping for cloud services. However, what a cloud provider offers is far from static. Service options, service packages, and pricing are always in flux. Provider A today may offer the best options for data storage or CPU resources, but tomorrow it might be Provider B or a combination of Provider B and C.

The challenge is to balance application workflows with business requirements, to ensure cloud service usage is always being managed with a bigger picture in mind.

Right. Easier said than done.

It takes real-time data to achieve that level of insight. In a multi-cloud environment, this requires an agnostic third-party platform that can distill usage data from the enterprise’s multi-cloud Rubik’s Cube and visualize it through a single dashboard, what we call a single point of data. Such a platform doesn’t yet exist, but it soon will.

How to get a handle on that data?

Even smaller MSPs must consider how they can close these data gaps by working with an agnostic third-party to upgrade and automate service provisioning and usage metering for their enterprise clients.

The outcome will be threefold:

1. Clients will be able to manage their whole order entry and fulfillment workflow in one place
2. Clients will gain transparency to control costs
3. The MSP will become more competitive and profitable thanks to automated order entry and provisioning, which will consolidate and simplify billing

Further reading from ComputerWeekly.com: The multi-cloud myth: Why workload portability is still a pipe dream

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