In the News | Source: Channel Partners | Jul 31, 2017

4 Ways MSPs Must Evolve in The Age of Digital Transformation

By Mark Clayman, CEO of TriCore Solutions and Rackspace's New SVP and General Manager of Enterprise Applications

The managed service provider landscape has rapidly expanded over the last few years as enterprises digitally transform. From managing legacy equipment, upgrading or replacing technology platforms and providing ongoing operations to helping align strategic IT and business requirements, MSPs are offering more services than ever before and becoming an essential asset to enterprise customers.

However, to keep that trust, we need to be ready to facilitate real change in IT operations.

The majority of organizations participating in a study by Researchscape, commissioned by my company, TriCore Solutions, are either considering adopting a cloud-first strategy or have already done so.This is a major transition that’s part of a larger transformation, and MSPs need to up the ante by providing services to streamline this process. Migrating to the cloud can be time-intensive and costly, which is why many organizations rely on partners with the knowledge and background to not only make sound recommendations but to see those recommendations through to execution and ongoing operations, extracting value for the organization throughout the process.

Further, a recent CompTIA survey found that almost half (45 percent) of organizations rely on some outsourcing of cloud-based services, and many of these could be included in an MSP contract. Opportunities are readily available for MSPs to thrive, and demand will continue to increase as the benefits of cloud migration become clearer to C-suites.

To meet these new demands, MSPs need to have the right background, knowledge and skills. Here are four main areas that MSPs should focus on to keep their competitive edge and become true partners to enterprises in the age of digital transformation:

1. Sharpen your cloud migration skill set. The cloud has reached a point of maturity as large enterprises begin putting mission-critical applications in public clouds such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform — something that even just a few years ago would have been unheard of. To support continued cloud adoption, MSPs need to have public-cloud capabilities so that they can migrate, deliver and manage every step of the way for organizations.

Too often, companies haven’t developed a strategy – even a loose one – for adopting public cloud technologies and solutions. MSPs should serve as true partners to lessen the burden on organizations implementing a cloud strategy and trying to determine where to start, which applications to consider and how to migrate and operationalize these environments.

2. Prioritize the application stack. According to a recent 451 Research report highlighted in Forbes, 59 percent of enterprises predict that cloud-based software, infrastructure and applications will be their most significant investments over the next five years in the quest to reach their business goals. Additionally, 43 percent of IT leaders say 40 percent or more of the company’s budget is allocated to digital transformation efforts — and with these changes, companies are frequently evaluating their IT spend from the ground up.

To adapt to these changes, application knowledge is clearly becoming more critical in terms of support and development. It’s time that MSPs prioritize this area of focus so they can develop the necessary skills to manage from the database up through the application — including the functional and development requirements of the application.

3. Make integrated management and skill sets the norm. As enterprise application buyers continue moving toward a cloud-first mentality, enterprise-application adoptions will largely be composed of SaaS and other forms of cloud-based solutions. MSPs need to continue skill development in the areas of application migration, distributed architectures, automation management, integration and IT monitoring and management tools. By developing these skill sets on an ongoing basis, you can manage integration points and the overall flow of data between on-premises or colocation private-cloud hosting environments, public cloud, SaaS solutions and partners and customers.

MSPs are expected to bring to the table outsourcing and consulting services alongside skills around managing applications and infrastructure. To make that happen, I have seen a spike in mergers and acquisitions. The widening IT skills gap in the IT labor force is continuously creating huge opportunities for MSPs that can become a stronger united force and one-stop shop for the enterprise.

4. Assemble an IT “dream team.” According to TriCore’s recent study, 45 percent of respondents see IT skills and experience and team bandwidth as a major barrier to cloud adoption. Having the right people in place is critical if MSPs want to set themselves up for success within the age of digital transformation. Server gurus, web masters, networking, database experts, architects and design engineers should all be working together. It’s essentially the MSP’s job to rotate necessary resources and keep the right players in motion to make IT run smoothly and achieve maximum value and ROI.

When enterprises are in the midst of deciding whether to move to public, private or a hybrid environment, MSPs can help by asking the right questions to determine the path that will lead to success. High-growth MSPs should also have a strategic focus in terms of identifying their clients’ top pain points and effectively solving problems with a solution that’s both the right fit for that specific problem and that has an eye toward maintaining consistency for the organization over the long term.

Mark Clayman is president and CEO of TriCore Solutions, which was recently acquired by Rackspace and is now known as Rackspace Enterprise Application Services. Mark is responsible for all sales, marketing and operations at TriCore. His focus is to enhance TriCore’s customer experience by educating the market and current customers on TriCore’s existing and new service capabilities, and continuously improving the long tradition of excellent service. 

Click here to get the full survey report.

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