Due to the growing market demand for fast, scalable, and agile computing, a critical new player has taken the stage in the cloud space: the cloud hyperscaler, aka public cloud providers that also offer networking, internet and other application services at scale.
Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are among the best-known public cloud providers, together claiming about 64% of the cloud market. Recently, the big three have started to partner with smaller cloud providers and independent software vendors (ISVs) to sell more and more IT services directly to their customers. The three aim to exponentially expand their infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings to remain competitive against each other.
The ongoing market consolidation puts many managed service providers (MSPs) at risk of losing value. MSPs are responsible for their customer's IT infrastructure, but what if the already-mighty giants take over customer relationships too?
On closer inspection, however, MSPs are in a great position to work with and around hyperscalers: They can partner with large cloud providers, build their services on public clouds, and offer managed multicloud services.
To build on their competitive advantage, MSPs should return to their roots and focus on innovation. By taking an active role in helping businesses succeed, MSPs will become next-generation providers and key players in the digital IT ecosystem.
Provide Flexibility with Multicloud Services
Admittedly, the advantages of using public cloud providers are significant. Faster processing, scalability, and almost endless geographical expansion are just some of the attractive features of Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.
But these advantages come at a price. Gartner finds that the ROI of a typical migration to a large public cloud provider is -171% after three years—and only becomes positive after seven years. Furthermore, as businesses expand horizontally and vertically, so do their cloud costs. Apple, for example, pays $30 million per month for AWS. This may be chump change for Apple, but what about smaller companies? They often find that their data costs increase by 30-50% annually while their budget remains the same.
Smaller companies and startups prefer flexible pricing strategies, as they often face capital constraints and unpredictable growth. So how can MSPs help businesses afford their digital transformation? The answer is multicloud. As a company's technology needs—and budget—change, MSPs that offer both public and private cloud have a unique competitive advantage. They can distribute an enterprise’s various applications where it makes the most operational sense, such as optimizing security by storing sensitive data on the private cloud and enhancing their day-to-day business performance with public storage.
Additionally, different clouds offer all sorts of innovative features. Each service provider operates with different computing power, regions, and pricing models, and can integrate diverse tools for data analytics, machine learning, or software development on demand.
With all these new options, companies are unsure how to scale their infrastructure without multiplying their costs. They are urgently looking for a trusted partner who can advise them. MSPs are, therefore, in a position to compare, recommend, and integrate different IT infrastructures that are tailored to the needs of each customer.
The Future Is Vertical
Let's get back to the roots of MSPs and their unique value. Typically, they manage an organization's entire IT infrastructure by focusing on either a specific technical challenge or the individual needs of a particular industry.
Many organizations prefer vertical solutions to help them manage their digital transformation over one-size-fits-all approaches. MSPs’ customers will judge cloud providers depending on their industry niche. For example, Google has a more robust app engine, while Azure is best for users of the full suite of Microsoft applications. But functionality is not everything.