The Evolving MSP

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Multicloud: The Next Integration Opportunity

The quest for relevance continues. When you first became an integrator it was pretty straightforward. You were considered superior based on your ability to identify the best choice of server, storage, router, switch and other network components, and bring them together to build a better system solution, preferably at a lower cost.

Then came the cloud. Suddenly, most of the components you brought together, and sold, were being operated somewhere else by someone else. You still got the opportunity to integrate routers, switches, firewalls and other networking components, but the servers and storage were pretty much lost to you.

Then came COVID-19. All of your users went home and were gone. They no longer needed your networking infrastructure. Every user was using their own residential infrastructure to communicate with a network core that was in a cloud datacenter or datacenters.

Feeling marginalized, are we?

Have You Ever Found Yourself 'Tech-Envious'?
Anyone who has ever operated a datacenter has probably experienced this and can tell you about it: You're at a conference or some kind of meeting of your peers. One of them tells you about this great new tech they recently added to their datacenter. Immediately, your mind starts spinning through all the ways your users could benefit from that tech.

But you don't have the budget for it, so you put it out of your mind. Still, it sure would be nice to have.

Yes, You Can Have It All
By now, you've probably extended your datacenter by integrating it with cloud resources instead of buying more hardware. Or you've simply migrated some workloads -- maybe more than just some -- to a cloud service.

Which cloud did you choose? Azure? Amazon Web Services? Google? If you've been there a while, you've probably started a wishlist of features and services you wish that cloud would provide, but doesn't.

So what? If the service you're seeking is available from another cloud provider, why wouldn't you use it? This simple question begins the drive to multicloud.

Each of the major cloud providers offers different services. Some are more focused on developers. Others are more focused on artificial intelligence (AI). With all cloud providers continuously expanding their menu of services, it stands to reason that they wouldn't all be the same. Some are unique to one provider or another. In some cases, the names are different but the services are the same. Some providers have subtle differences in the way they deliver a specific service. Each has its own idiosyncrasies, its own protocols, its own security requirements.

Sounds like something that would benefit from an expert integrator!

The New Integration that's Not So New
News flash: We've been doing multicloud for, well, as long as we've been doing cloud. Since the very beginning, we've been pointing out to customers that they can have the best-of-breed of each cloud service by identifying which one is best and subscribing. So you've been sourcing a productivity suite from one vendor, data backup from another, unified communications from yet another and so on.

This is not really different. You subscribe to the services you need from the cloud providers who have them. Your value proposition returns to what it has always been: You're the expert at how to make services from different providers work with each other seamlessly. You help your client select the right provider of the right services, configured in the way that will serve them best. Then you provision and deploy that service appropriately.

Being an MSP as well as a cloud solution provider (CSP), you then dutifully add it to your customer's monthly recurring bill so you can maintain and manage it.

Many platforms are emerging to make it easier to manage multiple cloud services from multiple providers. Mastering some of these, in addition to becoming fully versed in the differences between services from various clouds, potentially represents the next evolution of cloud integrators.

Posted by Howard M. Cohen on December 22, 2020