MSPs: Enterprises need hybrid cloud support – are you ready?

All hail the public cloud. All shall kneel before it.”

OK, we admit to a little snarky sarcasm, but only in response to those pundits who assert that everything on the premises is destined to be hosted in a public cloud. We respectively disagree with that viewpoint.

Public, private, not-for-profit – organizations differ in terms of their operating model, size and global reach. These factors make it impractical for the public cloud to be an all-or-nothing answer.

A hybrid approach, on the other hand, which makes judicious use of both private and public cloud resources, provides the flexibility which organizations need. This is evident now more than ever.

Whatever their individual cloud mix, organizations face the same challenges around data security, managing cloud spend and governance of user permissions. Clients are turning to their MSPs to serve as a trusted advisor, for their day-to-day needs as well as at a more strategic level, to help them bring these challenges to heel. In our biased view, employing more intelligent automation tools is a crucial ingredient of the mix.

The 2020 Flexera State of the Cloud Report backs up our position on the persistence of hybrid clouds and the need for greater automation.

The Report distills survey responses from about 750 global cloud decision-makers and users about the public, private and multi-cloud markets. What’s telling is that 93 per cent of these enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy, while 87 per cent have a hybrid cloud strategy.

Some 73 percent of organizations plan to optimize existing use of cloud to save money – this makes it the Report’s top initiative for the fourth year in a row.

But …

Only 33 percent are using any kind of multi-cloud management tool that might support this effort.

We expect that number will rise through the remainder of the year. It boils down to automation, which enterprises need to make their cloud spend more cost-effective. MSPs must invest in automation as well, as the pandemic response leaves them under pressure to operate in as lean and efficient a manner as possible. They need to adopt tools that will enable them to simplify and accelerate service delivery and streamline their back-office processes for more accurate and timely billing.

For the first time, Flexera asked about the use of MSPs for managing public clouds. Almost half of respondents are outsourcing at least some cloud work, with 26 percent engaging MSPs for most of their public cloud use. This is huge, if you consider that the Report’s respondents are representative of the global IT market. More than a quarter of all IT departments rely on an MSP to some degree.

Respondents also reported on the technologies their organizations use to run private clouds. About 42 per cent use VMware vSphere, with another 22 per cent experimenting or planning to use it. This tops MS Azure Stack, (though it edges ahead in terms of percent who are experimenting or planning to use). OpenStack and VMware vCloud Director come next.

Considering that those two VMware products – vSphere and vCloud Director – are only deployed in the same shop about a third of the time, it suggests VMware commands a substantial share of the market as the de facto private cloud leader. That’s right in our sweet spot.

But this isn’t about us, it’s about you, the MSP. To remain competitive and relevant to your clients, you have to consider how you can add value to better serve as that trusted advisor in a hybrid world.

Part of the answer may be to build a professional services practice. Another is to acquire the automation tools, such as ours, that will enable you to make the recurring revenue side of your business more efficient, profitable and scaleable. Only then, can you deliver and support whatever mix of cloud resources each of your clients finds most useful.

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