From MSPs to the cloud: Understanding the links
A study that took place last year predicted the managed services provider (MSP) market to nearly double over the next five years. The study, by research and consulting firm MarketsandMarkets, forecast a jump in the market from $142.75 billion in 2013 to $256.05 billion in 2018. The study includes managed data centers, networks, mobility, infrastructure, communications, security and other areas in the managed services market.
This study seems to fly in the face of many who predict negative effects on MSPs from the growth of cloud computing. However, there are signs of an emerging symbiotic relationship where both MSPs and cloud-based services are growing in lockstep.
The core problem that MSPs solve is the ability to outsource some or all of an enterprise’s IT operations to service providers that allow more direct control over the infrastructure and application services. While all MSPs differ in how they provide services, the value of moving to an MSP mostly remains, even when considering the use of cloud-based platforms. Perhaps people are confused about this phenomena.
The path is pretty easy to follow. Enterprises want to leverage cloud computing, but, in many instances, prefer to leverage an intermediary versus accessing the cloud directly. MSPs provide cloud integration or cloud connection services that largely make it easier for enterprises to create solutions where aspects of their IT assets exist as managed services within an MSP, and some may exist in public clouds.
This three-tiered architecture (enterprise, MSPs, and cloud) often proves easier to manage for the enterprise. The MSP provides a management layer between the enterprise and the public clouds. This means the enterprise can better manage the use of cloud services, which are part of the services that the MSP manages on the enterprise’s behalf.
There are additional advantages. Some MSPs are vertically focused, and thus provide common services for specific industries, such as healthcare, retail, manufacturing, etc..
Most public cloud services don’t focus on specific verticals, which means the vertically focused MSP can place the public cloud services in context so they are better able to serve vertical-oriented processes, or issues around vertical-specific compliance issues. For example, an enterprise might leverage cloud storage services from an MSP that specializes in the use of storage with HIPAA compliance in mind.
The path to the public cloud can certainly be a direct shot. However, most often enterprises opt to leverage cloud using an existing MSP. Indeed, some enterprises engage MSPs as a way to leverage public cloud-based resources for the first time. Thus, MSPs and public cloud computing are not at odds, and the market data seems to bear that out.
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