Managed service providers (MSPs) have become an important part of modern IT infrastructures. As more and more companies embrace technological change to better compete in today’s global economy, finding a knowledgeable and reliable partner capable of delivering services and support consistently is more valuable than ever. Many companies are turning to MSPs to implement new infrastructure solutions like hybrid and multi-clouds while also entrusting them with the day-to-day maintenance of their increasingly complex and mission-critical systems.
But while there’s never been a more exciting time to be an MSP, there are a few challenges that these providers must solve in order to thrive in the coming years. In many cases, data centers are well-positioned to provide the solutions that MSPs need to better deliver results for their customers.
This might seem like an unusual problem to have given the market’s growth projections, but a 2017 Datto study of 1200 managed service providers found that the greatest area of concern was lead generation and sales conversion. While many companies rely on referrals to generate business, this isn’t a sustainable path to consistent, long-term growth. It’s easy for MSPs to become locked in a cycle of merely maintaining existing relationships and occasionally adding a new client via referral, but they need to focus on ways to expand services to current customers and find new ways to position themselves in an increasingly competitive market.
There are plenty of “break-fix” IT solutions and data migration services available. To stand out from the crowd, MSPs need to offer and promote services that differentiate them in some way. Many MSP’s today have a Data Center Practice as part of their differentiated service. This may include hardware, and software to handle compute and storage, but may not include the Data Center itself. This may leave a gap in the full solution that the end customer is looking for, and therefore opening up the opportunity for another provider to step in and provide the complete solution.
Establishing a quality data center partnership to close this gap should be considered as a part of the MSP’s Data Center practice. Not only will a partnership allow the MSP to close the gap it will also open up the tremendous benefit in also being able to provide a wide range of connectivity options, including Public Cloud on ramps. Managed Service Providers should look at Data Center providers that can provide them with the tools (Software platforms) that will allow them to easily manage the Data Center infrastructure as a part of their overall management services. While MSPs provide the expertise, data centers can provide additional tools the MSP can use to deliver unique and more innovative services thus further differentiating them by providing a better customer experience. Establishing a good relationship with a data center may also be a enhanced sales strategy as many existing colocation and private cloud customers will likely look to a Data Center facility’s preferred MSP partner to support their need for higher order managed services, as the look towards private IaaS and SaaS solutions.
Growth is a good thing; however it can also be challenging, especially for companies that offer services directly to customers. When managed service providers add new technologies and new products to their portfolio to help drive growth, they will likely find their time and resources stretched to the absolute limit. Operational structure may need to be revisited and it can be difficult to implement changes without suffering a decline in operational efficiency. In the critical space of IT infrastructure, all it takes is one mistake for a customer to lose faith in an MSP’s ability to provide services.
When looking to work with a Data Center Provider is in important to make sure they have the capabilities and resources that can help MSPs ease their transition into support larger organizations. Providing Remote hands services can fill service gaps, business intelligence software that allows IT professionals to monitor networks and hardware assets more efficiently, and industry-leading service level agreements (SLAs) to ensure high levels of uptime combine to take some of the pressure off MSPs as they build out their staffs to accommodate the influx of new customers and higher revenue and better margins. Data centers already offer a wide range of scalable cloud computing, colocation, and virtualization options, allowing MSPs to offer bundled services and resources that may be far beyond their existing capacity.
Cyberattacks have made quite a few headlines in recent years. Ransomware, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, and assorted breeds of malware have found ways to bring even the largest companies to their knees, resulting in tremendous financial losses. While a major corporation may be able to weather such a storm, the average small or even medium-sized business could easily be wiped out by a cyberattack. Increasingly, MSP customers are turning to them to implement the very latest in cybersecurity protections and educate their employees about potential security risks and the telltale signs of various cyberattacks.
Managed service providers can no longer afford to ignore the cybersecurity business. No matter what markets they specialize in, they must be able to deliver high-level services with consistent uptime. Data center partnerships can help MSPs provide the very latest in security measures and regulatory compliance assurances. Working hand in hand, they can implement the redundancies and mitigation tools that offer substantial protection against cyberattacks and unauthorized access. Data centers also make it easy for MSPs to back up data and build customized cloud architectures that ensure ease of access and consistent uptime while also safeguarding valuable data and assets behind layers of physical, logical, and digital security.
As MSPs position themselves to meet the challenges of the future, they would do well to expand their partnerships with data centers. These facilities possess many of the resources that can help MSPs differentiate themselves in a crowded market and deliver superior services while consistently growing to meet customer demand.