IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Cloud Management 201: Unlocking Opportunity, Taming Complexity

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.

NO DOUBT cloud computing delivers transformational capabilities. It allows organizations of all shapes and sizes to operate faster, better, and with lower business and IT costs. In a best-case scenario, it can also unleash innovation and even wholesale disruption at scale.

Yet, managing a vast array of cloud applications and infrastructure is a daunting task. As adoption spikes and clouds drift into the mainstream of the modern organization, channel pros and their clients increasingly recognize that strategies and techniques that worked well a few years ago aren’t always effective today.

“Clouds have evolved and MSPs must evolve with them,” states Malik Khan, CEO of PointClick, a Raleigh, N.C.-based managed service provider that specializes in Microsoft Azure. “We are no longer in a lift-and-shift framework that mimics an on-premises computing environment. People need to rethink the way they manage clouds and the technologies they use.”

Malik Khan

To be sure, today’s software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) frameworks—along with the sprawling multicloud environments they create—deliver both opportunities and challenges for organizations. Optimizing performance, managing costs, streamlining data governance, avoiding vendor lock-in, and addressing cybersecurity risks are all at the center of what constitutes a viable and sustainable cloud strategy.

The Challenges

As businesses turn to cloud computing to handle increasingly complex tasks involving SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS, a more expansive and sophisticated IT management framework with strong governance and security protections is critical. It isn’t unusual for a company—even an SMB—to rely on hundreds of different cloud applications, tools, and resources. “It isn’t only that a business requires different tools; the way they are used is fundamentally different,” says Tracy Woo, a senior analyst for Forrester Research.

These challenges can be exacerbated by mergers and acquisitions and general business expansion. Reviewing contracts, licensing terms, renewal dates, and myriad other factors can rapidly devolve into a quagmire. “It’s remarkably easy to provision resources but it isn’t as easy to manage them effectively,” says Chris Ploessel, president of RedNight Consulting, an Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based MSP that focuses on AWS.

To be sure, cloud management challenges can take many shapes and forms, not the least of which is an overall lack of visibility into users, events, identities, and assets.

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).


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