IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Cloud Management 201: Unlocking Opportunity, Taming Complexity: Page 4 of 4

A sustainable cloud management strategy must include performance optimization, cost management, data governance, cybersecurity, and more. By Samuel Greengard
Reader ROI: 
TODAY’S COMPLICATED CLOUD ENVIRONMENT requires MSPs to rethink the way they manage clouds and the technologies they use.
CHALLENGES INCLUDE cost overruns, sprawl, security, and lack of visibility, creating an advisory opportunity for MSPs.
FOCUS ON OPTIMIZATION, and adopt tools and methods to analyze, monitor, and continually adjust to a client’s changing needs.

A good relationship with cloud vendors is also critical, Mazzanti says. If a larger player won’t devote time and resources to a business, it’s wise to explore smaller or niche cloud providers. “You have to identify vendors that are willing to pay attention to you and take an active interest in your business,” he stresses. “Once you commit to a company it’s often extremely difficult to change cloud providers, whether or not you want to describe it as vendor lock-in.”

In some cases, forging strong relationships with distributors and third-party support providers such as ServiceNow or Ingram Micro can also pay dividends for MSPs. That’s because major cloud companies often establish strict revenue thresholds, and if an MSP doesn’t hit the sales figure the company either won’t support them or winds up delivering subpar support. Ploessel believes that a lack of commitment to support—either by the MSP or the cloud vendor—will almost certainly torpedo any chance for a long-term relationship. “You have to ask, ‘What happens in an emergency?’ and begin building a support framework around that possibility.”

Unlocking Value

One way for channel pros to elevate their cloud management practices and distinguish themselves is through a dedicated cloud management platform (CMP). Although cloud vendors typically offer tools that work well within their own platforms, a CMP may bundle a variety of tools, technologies, and processes designed to handle far-ranging tasks such as managing settings, tracking licenses, overseeing billing, automating changes, addressing lifecycle management, and boosting security, governance, and compliance. A CMP also makes it possible to improve forecasting and cost controls.

Examples of CMPs include CloudCheckr (now part of Spot by NetApp), Flexera, Nerdio Manager for MSP, Morpheus, Oomnitza, and the open source tool CloudStack. With an enhanced ability to scan and analyze resources across an organization, an MSP can emerge as a valuable strategic consulting resource.

To be sure, when channel pros help their clients tame the complexities of the cloud and maximize results from today’s information technology, good outcomes usually follow. Says Mazzanti: “Many SMBs recognize that they require outside expertise to unlock the full value of clouds. MSPs must recognize that the partners they establish and the knowledge frameworks they build serve as the foundation for their customer’s success.”

Image: iStock / TCmake_photo

About the Author

Samuel Greengard's picture

Samuel Greengard, a business and technology writer in West Linn, Ore., is the author of The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015) and Virtual Reality (MIT Press, 2019).


ChannelPro SMB Magazine

Get an edge on the competition

With each issue packed full of powerful news, reviews, analysis, and advice targeting IT channel professionals, ChannelPro-SMB will help you cultivate your SMB customers and run your business more profitably.