I think the acronym, “MSP” is the new “Cloud”. From the beginning of the century and carrying on through today, the term “cloud” was thrown around faster than a Nolan Ryan fastball (horrible). “You have to get in the cloud! “Hybrid Cloud!” “We need more Cloud!”
Why is “MSP” the new cloud? For one, everyone wants to be a managed service provider. If you really want to upset a reseller, call them a reseller. What is a managed service provider according to Microsoft? I am not sure it is clearly defined, but I’ll give it my best shot. A managed service provider is an organization that performs three primary functions as it relates to helping end users migrate workloads from an on premise solution to another data center provider (cloud). The three functions are:
- Cloud Assessments – help end users determine how ready they are to offload workloads and determine which workloads they can even migrate. This includes ROI analysis, training, and perhaps even SAM. (Software Asset Management)
- Cloud Enablement – perform Proof of Concepts (POC), System Integration, and compliance.
- Cloud Operations – Network monitoring, bandwidth, backup, security, and assist with troubleshooting.
This is exactly what Microsoft is looking for in a CSP partner. MSP’s bridge the gap between the end-user and the data center provider (either Azure, Office 365, AWS, or some other 3rd party hosting partner). One unspoken function of a MSP is not just migrating customers to the cloud, but moving them back from the cloud. You can argue that the three functions mentioned can help customers migrate from the cloud back to on premise. Just replace “cloud” with “on premise”and you get the picture.
Another trend is how the cloud partner ecosystem has also evolved to include the MSP. MSP’s are partnering with other MSP’s to provide a fluid customer experience; it’s the same with CSP. A service provider, who perhaps has the customer relationship, can partner with a CSP Tier 2 partner to perform those three functions on their behalf. To Microsoft, they don’t care how a customer migrates, just that they migrate and have the support to help them manage it.
I remember when BPOS (the old Office 365) was first launched. The Microsoft account teams had a huge quota to have customers sign up for BPOS. It didn’t matter if they actually consumed it, as long as they signed up for it. Microsoft had thousands of end users sign up for BPOS, but very few actually deployed it. (very few knew they even signed up for it). Microsoft learned a lesson from that initial project – it doesn’t matter who signed up, it’s who’s consuming it that matters. In walks are friend Mr. MSP.
The days of being a transactional reseller are over, if you are not in the MSP game, find someone who is…and fast!