MSPs are looking for a competitive and cost-effective way to deliver IT services to their customers more than ever. How can you successfully meet these needs in the cloud, while still recovering investments from your on-premise data centre?
A transformation to the cloud is never an overnight job. It requires considerable planning to arrive at a justified business case for the cloud. But once this is in place, the way is open to build a cloud environment that is cost-effective, meets customers’ needs, is competitive and future-proof. The Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) by Microsoft offers a lot of guidance (in Plan, Build and Manage steps) for going through the entire cloud transformation. We have written a previous article about the Plan phase, and this time we will focus on two very important elements in the Build phase.
Choosing the cloud operating model
Traditionally, the role of the MSP is to manage the IT infrastructure and systems for customers in a physical environment, ensuring system stability and server uptime. However, in the cloud the focus shifts from physical assets (keeping the lights on) to digital assets (ensuring consistent operations). This calls for a new operating model that is cost-effective, optimized for your specific situation – which will very often be a hybrid cloud scenario – and avoids unnecessary spend due to inefficient set-up.
An obvious example for MSPs is the difference between RDS as a full IaaS model, where you still manage the infrastructure yourself, and Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), a Platform-as-a-Service model, where the provider takes responsibility for all control and management. It is clear that both require a different operating model, because the way in which the infrastructure is managed affects the entire organisation in terms of strategy, team roles, operations, governance and security.
Choosing the right operating model in the Build phase of CAF enables you to think about optimising and modernising business processes before the actual migration. Having said that, we know that this aspect is always weighed against another important factor: time. Due to customer requests or market conditions, time may be limited, requiring immediate action with a pure lift-and-shift. In this case, optimisation takes second place, however unfortunate that may be. In other situations, there is time to analyse and optimize beforehand, which is course the golden scenario of.
Evolving your business
In addition to the right operating model, there is a second aspect to consider when building your cloud environment. How can you use Azure, not only as an IT platform, but also to differentiate your business in today’s highly competitive market? The cloud offers MSPs an excellent opportunity to develop a proposition where you do not only provide infrastructure, but also related services around it. Supports business transformation, evolving from a pure IT supplier to a solution provider, creating added value that your customers will be delighted with.
If you only use the cloud to deliver the infra, for example in a lift-and-shift scenario, you will be fighting an unequal battle with the hyperscale providers. And who do you think will win? Compare it to when Office 365 came onto the market. At first, that was seen as a pure threat. Now, most MSPs have embraced Office 365 to further enhance their offering to customers, wrapping additional services around it – backup, for example.
The same opportunities to diversify, to further develop your business and to find new ways forward are presenting themselves right now, when migrating to the cloud.
Working with CAF and WAF
When building your cloud environment, the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) is an extensive, step-by-step approach for planning, building and managing a successful and profitable cloud strategy in a greenfield environment. We also use CAF in our support to customers during their cloud migration and combine it with Microsoft’s WAF (Well-Architected Framework). WAF improves the quality of workloads operating in the cloud by focusing on a set of common architecture principles.
While MSPs will usually have the resources and knowledge to develop a strategic cloud approach as a self-service activity with the CAF and WAF frameworks, most companies will seek expert support to ensure successful cloud adoption. At Insight, we have been working with MSPs like you across Europe for many years, providing valuable time, knowledge and support in many (hybrid) cloud scenarios.
New ways forward
As a multi-vendor software licensing, workload and platform specialist, we can guide you through all stages (Plan – Build – Manage) of your strategic cloud journey with a series of workshops, assessments, services and best practices. From the first exploration of cloud or hybrid opportunities and benefits to support and optimisation after migration. No matter where you are in your journey, we help you to find new ways forward and accelerate your business.
Contact us to find out how we can support you in your cloud adoption strategy.