MSP businesses vary hugely in how far they have embraced cloud services.
If you run a “traditional” MSP business, you may still support plenty of clients who have stuck with on-premise IT solutions.
Perhaps you’ve gone the other way and moved the majority of your clients towards the cloud already.
Whichever route you’ve chosen, one thing’s for certain, and that’s that cloud solutions are here to stay. The days when IT service providers could make a living by providing clients with a steady diet of Microsoft Small Business Server and a handful of productivity apps are long gone. The SME IT marketplace is heading to the cloud, so if you’re business is going to survive and thrive, you’ve got to develop a new business model around it.
Many MSPs facing this dilemma have spotted the obvious problem: it’s not as easy to make solid ongoing revenue supporting cloud solutions such as Office 365 and Google Apps as it was to do so the “old fashioned” way. Effectively, the likes of Google and Microsoft have stepped in and removed some of the revenue generating opportunities. Without servers to patch and RAID arrays to rebuild, some of the stressful but profitable jobs have disappeared, and while many cloud service providers pay a commission to MSPs, they undoubtedly keep the lion’s share of the subscription fees for themselves.
This has, inevitably, led many MSPs to start thinking about how to provide cloud solutions of their own and keep more of the income. If you’re an MSP facing this dilemma, there’s a technical concept you’re going to need to get your head around: multi tenancy.
Multi tenancy is essentially the ability to provide a service to several clients from one central infrastructure, while maintaining separation and a good level of security.
Multi tenancy has been around for many years (just think of Microsoft’s Hotmail if you need an example), but until recently, it’s not been something the average MSP IT professional has needed to truly understand. However, if you’re thinking of building a private cloud infrastructure for your clients, you need to understand it. Multi tenancy can mean fewer software licences and fewer physical servers – this, of course, results in you having the ability to spend less on providing a service in order to make more profit.
The technical reality is that, as an MSP owner, you may now need to increase your knowledge of high-level technical concepts. If you’ve been complacent about a steady client base built around SBS and Office, it’s definitely time to work out how you’re going to make the most out of a new era of SME IT. If your customers are going to move to the cloud, you should be thinking about moving them onto your own service – or you risk becoming little more than an Office 365 reseller and basic helpdesk service.
Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do to get up to speed. Perhaps consider studying towards a cloud certification, such as CompTIA’s Cloud Essentials or the MCSE in Microsoft’s Private Cloud, both of which discuss multi tenancy and how it can work hand in hand with virtualization.
Cloud computing has now gained unstoppable momentum. It’s time to learn the key concepts before your competitors do.