Got MSP?

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are upping the stakes in the current cloud land grab. By rapidly expanding their portfolio of service offerings they expect to capture larger share of wallet. Their customers are aligned with this approach as they seek out full-service providers able to meet all their technology needs.

A Growing Market

By 2021 MSPs will deliver close to 25% of all technology products and services globally, up from 18% today. This is an impressive business transformation story – thousands of IT resellers and systems integrators (most of them small companies with less than $10M in revenues) have displayed a clear vision and competent leadership in enhancing their organizations’ capabilities and infrastructure to keep revenues growing in this challenging business climate.

The number of MSPs worldwide will grow from 50,000 to 75,000 between 2016-2021, with the total IT products/services they deliver growing from $500 billion to over $1 trillion during the same time.

Their services portfolios, which initially included pure infrastructure services such as storage, security essentials, compute power, web hosting, and application hosting, have now grown to include value add and higher margin services such as disaster recover/business continuity, e-discovery, vulnerability assessment, compliance management, application management, SaaS, and mobile device management among others.

Business Challenges

Despite being in a high growth business, MSPs face tough challenges which require constant attention and fine tuning of their business models. Some of the top challenges are:

  • Differentiating their services from those of other MSPs is a top priority to counter margin erosion and hyper-competition.
  • Absorbing newer technologies, tools, and solutions, packaging them for client consumption, and providing follow up services requires a constant learning and training.
  • Investing in datacenters is yet another critical challenge, which is often detrimental to smaller MSPs.

How Technology Vendors Can Help

Technology solution vendors that are supplying to MSPs can often play a big role in helping MSPs address these challenges. By fully understanding the nature of MSPs operational and business needs, vendors can design their products and programs to enable their MSP customers to win in the market-place.

Key features can be built into products and programs to make them a nuts-to-bolts solution, or packaged to work with other third-party solutions typically used by MSPs. Examples of the types of features that MSPs would like vendors to include in their solutions are:

  • Automation of overall solutions architecture.
  • Automation of customer on-boarding and migration processes.
  • Dynamic and predictive throughput/capability scaling.
  • Performance monitoring and predictive dashboards and controls.
  • Vertical industry-specific sales, marketing, and technical know how.
  • Vertical industry-specific compliance and reporting features.
  • Online university – modular online training videos and certification.

These are some of the insights we have uncovered in our tracking of the worldwide MSP segment. For additional insights and a detailed description of our MSP tracking service and various deliverables click here.

Alternatively, please email John Rezac (jrezac@ami-partners.com) for more details or to schedule a webinar that will walk you through our MSP coverage and insights.

~Deepinder Sahni, SVP

SMBs Jumping on the Cloud-Based Managed Services Bandwagon

The rate of change in today’s IT landscape has made it challenging for SMBs to manage IT functions due to tighter budgets and fewer resources. This is pushing SMBs to compensate for their lack of in-house IT capabilities by hiring Managed Services Providers (MSPs) to provide 24*7 IT service and support.

Most MSPs today aim to serve two goals:

  1. To alert their clients about any risk before or when it happens.
  2. To address all the alerts they get.

This approach has resulted in a shift from the traditional “Break-Fix” mentality to a “Fix/Prevent” one where IT issues are addressed before management or employees are disrupted.

Is 2016 the year for Cloud-based MSPs?

The MSP world is changing fast and the latest evolution is the shift to Cloud. According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, SMBs will spend US$96 Billion on managed services in 2016 growing to US$154 Billion by 2020. To capture this opportunity most MSPs are transitioning towards cloud and hybrid environments by offering services like Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM). This is a great approach as most SMBs have servers that need to be available 24*7 and these servers need round the clock monitoring and management. Apart from RMM, MSPs offer services such as Backup and Disaster Recovery, Help Desk Support and Daily Health Reports to SMBs as they lack in-house resources capable of detecting security flaws or tracking utilization.

In a recent survey conducted by AMI-Partners exploring MSPs’ transformation to Cloud, one MSP stated, “Our cloud business grew from 0 to $3M over the transformation process. It puts us in a good place that we are able to be a single stop shop for SMBs looking for a particular solution, and we can provide that.” MSPs in this study saw their year-on-year revenues grow by 20-30% as a result of this transformation. This raises a question: Will 2016 be the year for cloud-based managed services?

With the increasing popularity of cloud-based services such as XaaS (Everything as a Service), MSPs will be able to provide managed IaaS, SaaS, PaaS in addition to managing security and other services on-premise. Subsequently, cloud vendors like Microsoft, Amazon and IBM are helping MSPs through this transition by providing tools and services such as backup management, 24*7 support and infrastructure management to mention. These tools provide consistency and manageability across blended deployments and deliver improved service quality, and flexibility with hybrid cloud environments.

Security concerns and lack of knowledge is worrying for businesses

A recent AMI study showed that security is the most pressing concern with cloud adoption. One of the most effective ways for MSPs to alleviate this concern is to partner with major cloud providers like Amazon or Microsoft. These trustworthy brands provide benefits such as IP protection and make cloud adoption easier by providing materials such as resource libraries, sales & marketing training, and technical & business support to MSPs. The study also revealed that SMBs are not fully aware of the benefits of cloud. It is important to stress to SMBs that cloud is more secure, scalable and cost beneficial now than it has ever been before.  Moreover, MSPs must assess their customers’ needs and build a value proposition unique in their market.

In order to succeed and thrive in this changing landscape, MSPs need to address these concerns and misconceptions early. With the right strategies and partnerships, there are many opportunities for MSPs.

~Kunika Sodhi, Associate