Moving Towards an Era of “Everything-as-a-Service”

We are living in an era where everything can be availed with a click or a tap. Whether it be cab services, entertainment, food, hotel stay, software applications, IT services or anything in between. In other words, all services and products, that are not yet, will soon be available “as-a-service”. This model is known as Everything-as-a-Service or “XaaS” in the IT world. Its origin comes from various technology-based products, services and applications that can be accessed through the internet or via a traditional purchasing and delivery mode.

Everything as a Service (also referred to as “Anything as a Service”) has evolved in recent times. This is due to the popularity of the cloud and expanded through various “as-a-service” (aaS) models such as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS) and many more.

It all began with SaaS. From there, various service models have evolved. Then along came the cloud enabled environment where any device, service or technology solutions could be delivered on a pay per-month model or simply based on the amount of usage by the consumer. These services can be accessed over the internet or through a traditional delivery model. Some examples of such as-a-service models in recent time are Device-as-a-Service, Personal Computers-as-a-Service and Printer-as-a-Service among many other bundled services offered on a pay-per-use basis.

Three levels of a Cloud-based Service Model

With the explosion of data now be capture, there is an increased need for more data analysis and it is essential to make this data relevant for businesses. Most companies are eager to adopt this model and plan to migrate to cloud based infrastructure if they have not already.

There are some key reasons for the migration to a cloud-based model.

  • Be it hardware, software or services there is a reduction in overall cost, maintenance, time consumed by their IT staff in day-to-day IT activities with a cloud-based model.
  • All new applications and technologies are developed and supported by the cloud. Hence, it is easier for the businesses to adopt by just downloading an application.
  • By handing over all the IT related services and maintenance to a cloud-based model, companies can utilize all their capabilities to develop and expand their business.

XaaS leads to Digital Transformation
Globally, the XaaS model has been expanding and getting more traction from all vertical industries and service sectors. XaaS has covered all possible services and solutions be it technology-based services or day-to-day requirements ranging from food-delivery to baby care services and everything in between.

Some major reasons for XaaS as a business model to grow and expand worldwide are:

  • Now a day’s work isn’t confined to the office or to fixed office hours. Rather the modern workplace has a growing number of mobile workers who need to connect with their client and business associates 24/7. These workers need near real-time updates. With the changed work culture, the everything-as-service model will develop and grow.
  • For a company to further their journey on the digital transformation path, they need more flexibility, agility and scalability. All of these are essential for any company to accomplish this transformation. XaaS allows any company to select the service package that is suitable for their present business needs with the option to make any changes as their needs evolve.

 The Future
Everything-as-a-service has vigorously disrupted the traditional business model and given a significant advantage to those businesses that are eager to take their environment to a higher level.  The as-a-service model will not only provide more opportunities to managed service providers (MSPs) but also more challenges. MSPs will need to cater to the growing needs of their customers developing and suppling more customized solutions and on-demand models that will be able to meet the more varied needs than are presently required.

This model offers equal business opportunities for channel partners who with their strength of customer knowledge, can be important players in the changed business environment. A hybrid business ecosystem with equal opportunities for all the stakeholders will be available through an everything-as-service model there by improving overall business efficiencies. With the continuation of new technologies and innovations to come, the everything-as-a-service model will continue to gain more traction and will flourish in the coming years.

~ Arpana Bharti, Research Analyst

Travel, Expense, and Invoice Management Automation Boosting Business Performance

Managing expenses and invoices is an inescapable part of doing business. There is simply no way around it. But, firms have a choice as to how they track and manage their spending. They can do it the old-school way—updating countless spreadsheets, tracking and filing paper work (invoices and receipts), and running around for signatures. Or, they can leave the cumbersome processes behind and opt for an automated travel, expense (T&E), and invoice solution.

The digital transformation is rendering traditional methods obsolete, and organizations are increasingly automating business functions such as expense and invoicing to improve efficiencies and boost productivity. Small and mid-sized business with 1-999 employees (SMBs) are beginning to catch on. According to AMI’s Global Market Sizing Model, worldwide SMB spending on T&E and invoice solutions is expected to reach nearly $4.7 Billion by 2021. This represents an 18.6% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2017. Cloud-based solutions are outpacing their on-premise counterparts with spending on SaaS T&E and invoice spend growing faster than 23% year over year through 2021.

There are dozens of brands to choose from including SAP Concur, Xero, MS Dynamics and Zoho to name a few. A top notch, comprehensive solution is one that offers, but is not limited to the following features.

  • Analytical tools for better tracking of data on spending
  • Auto-populate of expense reports
  • Receipt capture via mobile app
  • Flagging of non-qualified expenses
  • Integration with traditional Accounting/Finance/ERP software (i.e. QuickBooks, SAP ERP)
  • Integration with corporate credit cards
  • Travel and hotel booking in a user-friendly environment

Technology solutions really shine when they enable businesses to tackle key challenges and automated T&E and invoicing is a prime example of a software solution that does just that. Through its conversations with SMBs, AMI-Partners has found that companies using a well-rounded T&E and invoice solution benefit as they are able to:

  • Save time and money
  • Increase employee satisfaction
  • Improve employee and company compliance
  • Gain better visibility into spending and cashflow

These benefits tie together and are reinforced by one another.  For example, employees using a T&E application spend less time submitting expense reports which boosts employee satisfaction. Happy employees are more likely to use the application, which improves compliance. Since more information is captured, financial decision makers have better visibility into data on company spending, which they can more readily analyze. Finally, improved visibility helps firms to gain financially as it allows them to uncover cost saving opportunities.

Ultimately, a well-integrated T&E and invoice solution empowers firms to focus on overarching goals such as customer acquisition and business expansion.  Automation gives decision makers a clear picture of how money is flowing through the organization while giving back some of that ever-precious resource…time.

To learn more about how businesses are adopting automated solutions such as T&E and invoicing visit www.ami-partners.com or drop us a line at ask_ami@ami-partners.com

~ Joseph Bertran, Associate Director

SaaS – The New “Cash Cow”

The conversation about software as a service (SaaS) has been going on for a long time.  The evolution of hosted applications is pretty interesting. It all started back in the 1960s when IBM and other mainframe vendors offered computing power and database storage from their data centers to the financial industry and other large firms.  Fast forward to the 1990s when, with the proliferation of the internet, Application Service Providers (ASPs) began offering hosted business applications. According to Wikipedia, the acronym (SaaS) allegedly first appeared in an article published in February 2001 by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

Some may think SaaS is passé and has been talked about to death, but although SaaS can be considered a “mature” market there are some very good reasons to revisit cloud software:

  1. Industry analysts and mainstream media all cite SaaS as a technology with strong growth prospects for both adoption and spending. AMI estimates that worldwide, small, medium and large businesses (SMLBs) spent $62 billion on SaaS solutions in 2017 and that figure is projected to more than double by 2021.
  2. Globally, about 22 million firms are planning to allot more of their IT budgets for hosted/cloud solutions as opposed to on-premise IT products and services with the largest portion slotted for SaaS applications.
  3. SaaS solutions are major forces driving growth as industry mainstays, who were formerly strong on-premise vendors, shift emphasis to the cloud. For example, Oracle reported Q3’17 overall cloud revenue increased 51%, but SaaS revenues rose 62% and Microsoft reported strong increases across all of its cloud offerings and is now the leading cloud service provider (Office 365 revenues alone increased over 10%).

“SaaS” comprises a wide variety of different cloud-based applications, from the most basic e-mail to solutions tailored for very specific industries.  Spending in 2017 on prominent hosted applications was strong. Beyond email, other leading apps included hosted CRM, business intelligence, productivity and highly customized line of business software (vertical or industry specific software).

As SMLBs seek to leverage technology to help them reduce OPEX, improve efficiency and employee productivity and improve the customer experience, many are looking to the cloud as a solution. About one-third of firms we surveyed reported migrating more applications to cloud services was very important to their company’s continued success. Firms reported a variety of reasons for adopting cloud solutions, including cost savings, scalability and flexibility.  Many businesses feel SaaS solutions allow them access to technologies that might otherwise have been out of reach cost wise, while others utilize cloud services because it enables them to reduce system hardware by using cloud vendors’ servers to store data. In addition, SMLBs will increasingly look to bundle SaaS solutions when making new PC and device purchases.  Popular bundles include hosted productivity suites, security, data back-up/recovery, online data storage, and online document collaboration.

Overall, projected growth for SaaS apps is strong through 2021 (20% CAGR).  Fueling this growth will be solutions such as productivity, point of sales, business intelligence, email, quotes & invoicing and travel and expense solutions.

Software as a Service is a concept that will continue to evolve as it is a win-win for everyone.  SMLBs will benefit as they shift legacy on-premise solutions to seat-based models for cost savings, flexibility and scalability, as well as access to new technologies. Independent software vendors (ISVs) offering cloud solutions will be able to attract and engage firms that may not want to incur the large capital investments required for on-premise installations. Cloud hosters, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google and IBM, will benefit as more ISVs shift their current on-premise solutions to the cloud.

~ Eileen Zimbler, VP

Managed Security Market Gaining Strength by the Day

Many companies have been the victim of cyberattacks including Malware, Denial-of-Service(DoS) and Ransomware. A recent example being Equifax, where hackers were able to get personal and confidential details of approximately 143 million people. SMBs are more vulnerable to these attacks due to a lack of expertise and budget. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are leveling the field for SMBs and LBs by providing these specialized security services. The Managed Security market is growing exponentially with the rise in cybercrimes and security threats. Business factors such as meeting the needs of compliance and data protection laws, budget constraints, lack of in-house expertise and increased adoption of cloud services are shaping the future of the Managed Security market.

According to AMI’s Global Model, SMBs around the world are spending approximately $11 Billion on Remotely Managed Security, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14% by 2021. The increasing demand from SMBs is the key driver for this growth. As the services offered by SMBs increase, the need for high-level security for sensitive and confidential information is also expected to increase. AMI’s MSP study shows that 22% of an MSP’s total revenue is generated by providing Managed Security Services to clients and it will continue to grow. This is a great opportunity for MSPs to expand their security offerings.

 Region wise, North America is expected to remain the largest market for Managed Security Services as most managed security service providers and technology vendors are based in the US. The U.S. is expected to account for 92% of the market by 2021 for Remotely Managed Security Services.

Challenges:

Data is the new currency in this era and that is the biggest challenge for Managed Security Providers. As the data increases, MSPs find it difficult to provide scalability due to the lack of integration between various security platforms and tools. There are no pre-packaged technologies that fit all the security needs of various types of businesses. These security needs are business specific and require considerable time, effort and monetary investment.

From a SMB’s perspective, there is always a risk involved with the handling of critical information through a third-party security provider, including the risk of sensitive information getting into the wrong hands. So, establishing trust with these businesses is a big challenge for MSPs. Additionally, according to the MSP study over 60% of Managed Security Service Providers find it challenging to maintain close relationship with vendors.

Expectations from Vendors:

MSP’s share in overall revenue for the vendor is growing quickly as SMBs shift their focus to core business offerings and outsource all other IT services required to run the business. Certainly, MSPs are expecting competitive prices and premium customer service from vendors. Additional selection criteria include:

  • Delivering technologically superior platforms and tools compared to other competitors in the market
  • Highly scalable and customizable technology solutions according to the customer’s needs
  • In addition to technology, vendors are expected to carry all the relevant certification and audit credentials to be compliant with the data privacy and security laws especially in regulated verticals such as Healthcare, Banking, etc.

These are a few of the many challenges and selection criteria uncovered in AMI’s MSP study. This research demonstrates that expansion of managed security offerings such as Endpoint Security and Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) could be a major contributing factor in the growth of the managed security market. MSPs should pay attention to several growth factors such as flexibility for changing requirements, high level of automation, regular security testing, quick customer support and the ability to provide end-to-end security solutions. Taking steps in these directions will help MSPs to stay on top in this competitive market.

~Ankit Mehta, Associate

How are Regulated Industries using Managed Services?

Government is tightening rules and regulations on data storage and security especially in regulated industries such as healthcare, and financial services. These sectors include doctor’s offices, banks, and credit unions, where sensitive information is collected and stored. Firms in these industries are leveraging the expertise of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to setup and manage compliant IT environments. Hence, these providers are on the front lines ensuring data security and navigating a myriad of laws and regulations on behalf of their clients.

According to AMI’s Global Model, SMBs across the world are spending almost $63B on remotely managed services, this spending is forecasted to grow at 15% CAGR by 2021. SMBs in regulated industries such as Banking/Finance and Healthcare account for nearly 20% of this spending and is forecast to grow at 12% CAGR by 2021. This represents overwhelming opportunities for MSPs in these industries especially in providing specialized managed services such as security, storage and networking to mention a few.

MSPs serving these industries are handling responsibilities above and beyond handling managed services. The focus is not only on keeping people and systems working, but also on making sure they work in a legally compliant manner. These MSPs typically have a dedicated compliance and security department that stays on top of regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). In case of a successful hack, investigators determine whether the victim organization followed all laws, had appropriate policies and procedures in place, and if the IT department was properly designed and capable of handling the security needs. The aim is to examine if the IT department was susceptible to that breach or hack. MSPs serving these industries need to be diligent and take an active role in encouraging their clients to update their policies and meticulously follow procedures.

A recent study conducted by AMI shows that MSPs are increasingly focusing on these regulated industries to expand their portfolios and customer base. Larger MSPs with more than $10M in annual revenues are forming vendor partnerships with the needs of their regulated industry clients in mind. The top of mind concern for these MSPs while partnering with vendors, be it an Remote Monitoring & Management (RMM) vendor or a Professional Services Automation (PSA) vendor or a hosting platform provider, is to ensure that they carry relevant compliance certifications and audit credentials. In addition, serving regulated industries and demonstrating vertical industry specific expertise allows MSPs to stand out in a crowded, commoditized MSP market. AMI’s MSP Study shows that MSPs focus on services such as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), and Archiving as a Service (AraaS) especially in regulated verticals. It is imperative to store/archive historical data as well as to have systems up and running all the time with fast up time in case of an outage.

The stakes are high for businesses as far as security and compliance are concerned. Businesses are looking for ways to offload these cumbersome tasks on experienced partners in order to focus on their core missions. So, MSPs are increasingly targeting these regulated industries that cannot afford to be lenient with their security standards.

~Kunika Sodhi, Associate

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

MSPs to capture $1.0T in ICT spending by 2021

Large numbers have a certain aura to them. We almost disrespect these figures by using abbreviations. One trillion dollars written out looks like $1,000,000,000,000 and for those wondering, such a sum would weigh approximately 10,000 tons (9,071.85 short tons) when carried around in the largest denomination US currency currently in circulation, the ever popular $100 bill. To have such transportation and storage problems… For the sake of preserving the “0” key, we’ll stick to the $1.0T abbreviation for the rest of this piece, but there is no shortening the drive of MSPs to capture an increasing share of global information and communication technology (ICT) spending across the SMB and Large Enterprise space.

MSP spending capture growth
$1.0T in spending capture… that’s a spicy meatball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How are MSPs winning?

There are a host of factors contributing to the rise in MSP spending capture toward the $1.0T plateau. As with any business, Continue reading “MSPs to capture $1.0T in ICT spending by 2021”

Storage in the Cyber Attack Era

Ransomware has returned to the front page in the form of the WannaCry threat sweeping the globe. AMI-Partners has written about cybersecurity before and it is a well known fact that being proactive is the best approach to security. In this blog, AMI will take a look at how a robust storage solution can help a company in the SMB space rebound from an attack.

Pay the butcher’s bill?

The WannaCry ransomware has arrived in 150 or so countries. Blame is still being assigned and solutions are being sought. Experts agree that paying a ransom isn’t the best course of action. There is no guarantee your files will be decrypted. The sting of having been on the receiving end of the malicious attack will be compounded by the fruitlessly spent funds filling the coffers of criminals. However, each firm must respond as they see fit. If the rightful owners and users are locked out of files, retrieving duplicate information from storage can get a business up and running again. Of course, when ransoms aren’t paid, Continue reading “Storage in the Cyber Attack Era”

Samsung Galaxy S8: Removing Barriers

Some weeks at AMI are spent entirely in the office. We go about our business and interact with the outside world via conference calls, web meetings, and sometimes people even drop in to see us. Other weeks see AMI-ers out in the field, like when we traveled to hear from IBM in Las Vegas. This week presented a great opportunity to learn about the connected world a bit closer to home. Samsung launched its new flagship smartphones, the S8 and S8+, in addition to showcasing other devices, during UNPACKED2017, at Lincoln Center in NYC. The SMB space is always on the lookout for the latest tech, so let’s take a closer look.

Sharing Experiences

Samsung needed to deliver something special after the Note 7 battery issue and other setbacks last year. Leaving UNPACKED, where your intrepid blogger was asked to pose for a few pictures while holding a Galaxy branded bag (seriously, this happened), it appears Samsung is Continue reading “Samsung Galaxy S8: Removing Barriers”

Payroll Software-as-a-Service

We all like to be compensated for our work. Whether it be the new normal of direct deposit, the antiquated live check, or the somewhat controversial pay card (No one is [legally] paid in cash anymore, are they?), payday is a date we circle on the calendar. Companies have the option of outsourcing payroll or keeping it in house. Software can be on-premise or subscribed to as a service. AMI’s research shows the SaaS option is growing but on-premise solutions are still used in most SMBs. Let’s take a look at the SaaS option and see if the cloud makes sense for payroll in the SMB space.

SaaS is Sassy 

According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, SMB spending in the US on Payroll software-as-a-service will have a CAGR of 13% through 2020. While double digit growth is nothing to dismiss lightly, other SaaS categories are approaching a 30% CAGR over the same time span. Overall, SMB SaaS spending in the US will have Continue reading “Payroll Software-as-a-Service”