In every industry 2020 will be remembered as a year that brought immense change in both working practices, and the types of services needed by customers. The business environment shifted dramatically almost overnight; a pre-existing surge in technological innovation was pushed into overdrive by the need to adapt to an entirely new working reality.
It’s no surprise that this need for business agility has resulted in higher investment in IT services, and with it, an increased need for management of these services. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have long played a role in supporting a customer’s IT infrastructure. But with a global shift to remote working and tech innovation, MSPs found themselves in an almost purpose-built situation that required remote handling of IT solutions.
With their ability to help businesses prepare for change and ease them into a new era of working, there are four key things MSPs should have in their armory to help customers grow and succeed in 2021.
Multi-cloud data storage
Multi-cloud has changed the game for organizations. While it has without a doubt opened up new opportunities, businesses now require infrastructure that allows for their workloads to work seamlessly in different environments.
For this reason, MSPs should focus on supporting customer’s strategy, asking themselves how to best prepare their customers for an environment that will undoubtedly continue changing to keep up with the latest technological innovations. They should be looking to add value in all areas possible, and should consider the different benefits of cloud storage vs. on-prem storage: recognizing that the future will continue to focus on a multi cloud strategy incorporating both. In this sense, building a customer’s infrastructure can be regarded as a strategic tool for future-proofing their data strategy.
From a financial perspective, MSPs need to appreciate that the endless cycle of upgrading and implementing the latest technology is a large burden for businesses wanting to stay ahead of the game. Multi-cloud makes sense; it’s operationally efficient for customers wanting the capacity to move workloads freely without large investment every few years.
As-a-service offerings support innovation
Many companies and their CFOs will understandably be reluctant to implement innovation strategies with no direct link to benefits. As-a-service offerings, like Pure-as-a-Service, provide the flexibility that many will be looking for after such a tumultuous year. MSPs, and some vendors, should be looking to identify these pain points and solve them through adapted financial offerings.
What’s more, they need to recognize that buying into expensive on-prem offerings has become an increasingly bitter pill to swallow. We can see a transition happening with MSPs that will sit comfortably in 2021; many are seeing an opportunity to differentiate by pushing their customers into the next age of innovation whilst taming the costs. A win-win situation.
With the constant stream of new technology released, as-a-service options allow both MSPs and customers to try new tech and ‘fail fast’ - enabling them to find the solution that fits their needs without breaking the bank. Plus, as an added bonus, they won’t need to worry about the burdens of financial forecasting - offering relative flexibility in their investment.
In 2021 customers need the ability to move their workloads freely, and containers hold the benefit of encapsulating software into virtual self-contained units. But the complexity of cloud-native technologies such as Kubernetes is driving more organizations toward consuming managed services delivered via the cloud versus deploying these technologies on their own.
Forward-looking businesses are moving to containers which in a couple of years will be a widely adopted and mainstream standard for data storage. Many larger customers are further along their digital transformations and are now ready for multi-cloud, meaning MSPs that can deploy Kubernetes across multiple clouds will see increasing demand for that expertise as they look to tee up customers to realize the value from their data.
2021 will be a year of assessing how workloads are managed; they need to be in the right place for their designated application, and this will continue to be a key area that customers look for in their data assets
Taking on hyperscalers with differentiation
Hyperscale public cloud providers have created a new dynamic in the cloud market, offering businesses unlimited capacity, seamless updates and large geographic scope. Analysis has shown that hyperscalers dropped $99 billion in capital expenditure in the first three quarters of 2020, setting a quarterly record in the third quarter alone.
It’s no wonder they raise a consistent concern. But rather than competing with hyperscalers, MSPs that want to get ahead are already starting to work with them. In this scenario MSPs must act as the metaphorical glue that brings all of these new technologies together for their customers. Only by doing this will they be seen as a true partner, having the best interest of their customers at the forefront.
And where they can’t work together, MSPs need to be recognizing their key attributes that differentiate them from hyperscalers. Take the ongoing challenge that Covid has presented, and how many customers haven’t been able to directly get to their data centers in the frequency they would normally have liked. For MSPs, having someone do that on the customer's behalf on a monthly basis has become an incredibly strong selling point.
It’s clear that many of the pain points of 2020 will stick around for much of 2021. The business landscape has irreversibly changed in many ways. With this in mind, MSPs need to recognize that the hurdles that have been put into place for businesses represent a clear opportunity to help knock them down. By providing innovative bespoke solutions for customers, using the forward-looking tech and services above, MSPs can play a crucial role in providing the roadmap for continued business growth and success.
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Matthieu Brignone, Area Vice President EMEA Partners, Pure Storage