Cloud ComplianceHyperscale CloudsIaaSSecurity

The Challenges for MSPs Working with the Cloud

ByApril 11, 2017
juggling cloudsOver the past few years, Managed Service Providers have been faced with a number of important decisions about how they continue to operate and differentiate their businesses with the rise of public cloud services.

The MSP (and outsourcing) model has traditionally been based on the premise of being able to operate and manage a customer’s IT services in a more cost-efficient manner than they could do it themselves. This may have been by bringing in a team to augment or replace the IT department using the customer’s equipment on-premises, or, perhaps, by transforming the IT infrastructure to the MSP’s own facilities.

Back in the 90s I worked for an embryonic EDS in the UK as they won their first outsourcing contracts other than General Motors, and remember being awestruck by the data centre tour at Stockley Park, Uxbridge. There, visitors would be treated to a view of the data centre floor from a viewing gallery, and the lights were turned on from front to back like an episode of ‘Time Tunnel’ (for those of you old enough to remember that) extending away into the distance.

Over the past decade other smaller MSPs have been building their own environments in their own facilities or in co-location, and this has been made easier with the rise of fully virtualized infrastructures allowing them to benefit from economies of scale.

Now, of course, this has extended to cloud services, where orchestration, automation and massive scale allow for all sorts of new use cases.

While public cloud services bring lower cost and rapid, vast scale for organisations to consume (and I won’t even mention Shadow IT in this post), for the most part the cloud service providers do not provide any management services with the cloud infrastructure or PaaS/SaaS services they offer. So, the role of an MSP is still very important for many customers, where they neither have the staff quantity nor, perhaps, the time to train current staff on these new capabilities.

I’ve written in a previous article about the need for vendor diversity when consuming cloud services. This is true for MSPs as well as customers. So, while MSPs might still be using their own infrastructures for their customers while looking to public cloud for the future – it is also worthwhile to consider using other CSPs to provide or protect different aspects of their overall service to the client.

Also, with compliance and security issues becoming ever more important, particularly in regulated industries, it is critical to evaluate the compliance and security certifications of the CSPs being considered.

UK specialist cloud and strategic consultancy firm, Behind Every Cloud, developed the Clover Index (which has been endorsed by the Cloud Industry Forum) to evaluate different cloud service providers according to a common set of criteria, and their analysis is especially relevant for Legal and Investment Management customers. Ray Bricknell, Managing Director at Behind Every Cloud says: “As MSPs move away from completely providing their own infrastructure solutions and into a ‘multi-cloud’ world it is vitally important for them to quickly be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these providers, and especially so from a compliance and security perspective to ensure they remain in line with directives from the FCA and with GDPR coming down the line.”

On April 25th, iland will be sponsoring the Managed Service & Hosting Summit in Amsterdam, and will be speaking at the event as well as exhibiting.

In recent months, iland has been adding to its list of MSPs using the iland cloud around the world for a variety of services, including:

  • Iland Secure Cloud for Infrastructure as a Service
  • Iland Secure Cloud Backup
  • Iland Secure Disaster Recovery (both on-premises and cloud-to-cloud)
Several of our MSP partners will be at the Amsterdam Summit, and we look forward to meeting many others.

It has always been our philosophy at iland to work with MSPs to provide management services rather than offer professional services of our own. It is interesting to watch the hyper-scale public cloud providers start to offer their own managed services in competition to their partners (perhaps due to customer demand). So, many of those companies who have hitched their wagon to these providers are now having second thoughts.
Richard Stinton

Richard Stinton

Richard is an Enterprise Solutions Architect for the iland EMEA business and has over 30 years’ experience in the IT industry, most recently in the Cloud space with iland, Microsoft Azure and VMware. Starting out in Engineering CAD/CAM and GIS systems with McDonnell Douglas and EDS, he moved to mainstream IT and Systems/Service Management with HP, BMC Software and Mercury Interactive, before joining VMware in its early days. Richard has a breadth of experience having worked in customer support, sales, partner management and product marketing. In his current role as EMEA solutions architect, Richard works with customers to implement and optimise cloud technologies.