Using your MSP to manage your public clouds…step by step

Those who leverage managed server providers (MSPs) often use the MSP to access and manage public cloud services.  However, there are right and wrong ways to do this.

Many believe that MSPs and public clouds live in very different worlds.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In the past, ‘managed service providers’ was a term used to describe infrastructure services delivered on a subscription basis.  With the advent of cloud computing, managed IT services and management services have become synonymous.  Indeed, most MSPs are very cloud-like.  Many even provide auto- and self-provisioning capabilities, as well as some elastic scaling features.

However, as MSPs continue to grow in popularity, along with cloud computing, best practices are beginning to emerge around how to use MSPs as management layers for cloud-based resources.  Simply put, it’s the ability to leverage a tiered model to deal with public clouds using the MSP as a point of abstraction.

While this may sound complicated, it’s really not.  MSPs offer sets of services that may be leveraged by enterprise IT as if the services existed in-house.  This is typically a more cost effective approach than building and managing these services on your own.  Some MSP usage already exists within most modern enterprises.

Many enterprises find that it’s much more cost effective and efficient to leverage an MSP as a management layer to access public cloud-based services.  Here are a few best practices (steps) to follow if you also want to follow this path.

Step 1: Figure out an access strategy. The core decision that needs to be made is how to access public cloud services.  There are two core choices: Direct, and, use of the MSP.  The direct approach requires that you deal with the APIs or services that the public cloud providers stand up.  You manage these directly, and thus things can get complex very fast.

When leveraging an MSP to manage access to public cloud resources, the MSP is typically able to remove you from some or most of the underlying complexity that comes with accessing public cloud resources.  What’s more, MSPs can provide consistent access to any number of very different public cloud resources.  However, the tradeoff could be that you may not have access to some native public cloud resources.

Step 2: Figure out a security strategy.  Typical MSPs provide a single security model that spans its services, and the model may span public cloud services that the MSP manages.  As we mentioned in Step 1, this can provide a much more simplified and effective way to secure all services, MSP and cloud, as a single and consistent set of resources.

Step 3: Figure out a management strategy. Step 1 deals with access, and Step 2 deals with security.  Now you need to figure out how these services will be managed by the MSP.  Most MSPs offer public cloud gateways, where the management of all MSP and public cloud services are done using a “single pane of glass” approach, or, a single management console for MSP and public cloud services.

Are MSPs a good way to manage public clouds?  The answer seems to be “Yes.”  Many enterprises are proving this is indeed true, as public clouds grow in popularity.  However, there is some additional work that you must do.  Make sure you’ve thought through the approaches to access, security, and management beforehand, rather than after the fact.

The post Using your MSP to Manage Your Public Clouds…Step-by-Step appeared first on Gathering Clouds.

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