Cloud adoption is accelerating, with the global cloud services market projected to total $5.1 trillion in 2024, an increase of 8% from 2023 (Gartner).
As SMBs shift more operations to the cloud, it’s becoming critical for managed services providers to evolve their portfolios and become cloud ready.
Transitioning to a cloud-ready model means making cloud technologies foundational to your portfolio, rather than an add-on. The goal isn’t to be cloud-first in the opinion of Paul Hager, vice president of services at Ingram Micro.
“As an MSP, it’s your role to assess the applications and make the call on what infrastructure is best for your clients — cloud, on-prem, or both.”
Joseph Hoban, vice president of sales at cloud security platform provider Sentra, is more bullish on why an MSP should focus on becoming cloud-ready. “Cloud-ready companies project to the marketplace — both customers and prospects — an ability to innovate in an area that enables efficiencies in customer satisfaction as well as openness in the data that drives the success of the business,” Hoban explained.
Why Become a Cloud-Ready MSP?
There are many reasons to shift your model to accommodate the cloud needs of SMBs.
- Meet growing SMB cloud demand: According to Flexera, 92% of organizations have a multicloud strategy or are putting one in place, with usage expected to rise sharply as more applications and workloads are migrated. Cloud solutions experts will reap the benefits of the surge in spending.
- Attract new talent: Both new and seasoned IT professionals want to work with cutting-edge technologies. By emphasizing your commitment to cloud computing, you can win those workers over and leverage their skills on impactful projects.
- Ongoing value: After migration, an organization’s need for cloud management and governance only intensifies. Developing deep skills in this area can result in a stream of high-margin sales opportunities.
Key Steps to Becoming Cloud Ready
That’s all well and good, but how does an MSP become cloud ready? Here are some considerations:
Emphasize cloud competency as you write job descriptions and hire. Even IT generalists should possess some level of cloud knowledge and express an interest in gaining more skills.
Make organizational changes to align staff skills and roles with cloud delivery models. Budget work time for cloud-related training and certifications to help your team succeed in those roles.
Take a consultative, checklist-style approach with clients. Focus on their desired business outcomes and map needs to cloud-based services.
Offer and bundle specialized migration and optimization services to ease the SMB customer’s cloud transition.
Refresh branding, campaigns, and thought leadership content to showcase the excellence of your cloud services. Remember that demonstrations, case studies, and testimonials are powerfully persuasive ways to build a following.
Keep Security Top of Mind
It’s also important to develop, follow, and teach security-related best practices regardless of where the data is housed.
MSPs must maintain control over user accounts in cloud environments, according to itSynergy CEO Michael Cocoanower. Federating cloud app authentication to a centralized directory is key. Without a centralized source of identity management, it can be “difficult to manage things like stale user accounts, deactivation of separated employees, etc.,” he said.
Cocoanower also emphasized the importance of vetting cloud vendors. Work to understand the capabilities, SLAs, and security infrastructure of each vendor you deal with. But remember: The MSP ultimately is the responsible party for the security of its customers’ as well as its own data.
Making the Cloud-Ready Case
In years past, it was enough to make cloud services a bullet point in a long list of services offered. But now, MSPs that fail to develop their cloud capabilities risk falling behind.
Doubling down on cloud technology while mitigating risk can be a win for an MSP in growth mode. Clients expect the benefits of the cloud, so it’s wise to consider how this technology fits into your strategy now and in the future.