Navigating cloud diversity

How MSPs achieve neutrality in a multi-provider world. By Lee Thatcher, head of cloud, Cloud CoCo.

  • 10 months ago Posted in

In today's ever-evolving landscape of cloud computing, managed service providers (MSPs) play a pivotal role in assisting businesses as they make the transition to the cloud. However, MSPs face a significant challenge in striking a balance between the diverse needs of their clients and the offerings provided by major cloud providers, often referred to as hyperscalers. This challenge has given rise to the concept of being "cloud agnostic," a strategy aimed at offering services that are independent of any specific cloud provider.

Being cloud agnostic, in essence, means providing cloud services that are not tied to any particular hyperscaler. MSPs embracing this approach have the flexibility to operate across multiple cloud providers, free from the constraints of a single provider's offerings. This approach empowers MSPs to leverage the strengths of various cloud providers to craft tailored solutions that align perfectly with their clients' requirements.

So, what are the advantages of this approach?

Organisations pursue being cloud agnostic because it offers a wide array of benefits for both MSPs and their clients. Each hyperscaler brings its own unique advantages to the table:

● Google Cloud excels in analytics and AI capabilities, making it an ideal choice for data-driven applications.

● Microsoft Azure offers enhanced security features, catering to industries with stringent compliance requirements.

● Amazon Web Services (AWS) boasts the title of the largest cloud provider and offers extensive scalability.

● Alibaba Cloud stands out for its cost-effectiveness.

● Oracle Cloud caters to enterprises in need of robust database solutions.

By not limiting themselves to a single hyperscaler, MSPs can tap into these strengths to meet the diverse needs of their clients.

One of this approach's primary benefits is avoiding vendor lock-in. By not relying on a single hyperscaler, MSPs ensure their clients retain the flexibility and autonomy to shape their cloud strategy. This empowerment enables clients to make informed decisions, reducing the risks associated with being overly dependent on a single vendor.

Additionally, being cloud agnostic contributes to cost optimisation. MSPs can select the most cost-effective solutions from different hyperscalers and negotiate based on performance, ensuring that clients get the best value for their investments.

Challenges with multi-cloud approaches

However, there are challenges on the technical and operational fronts when it comes to remaining cloud agnostic. MSPs need to build and maintain a highly skilled technical team capable of offering services across multiple cloud platforms. This unique skill set can be a hurdle in itself, requiring continuous training and updates to keep up with evolving technologies.

Moreover, managing different cloud platforms comes with operational hurdles, including the need for a workforce with diverse skill sets, efficient issue resolution across platforms, and selecting the right technology for each client's unique requirements.

To effectively manage relationships with various cloud providers while maintaining neutrality, MSPs often rely on a central portal through which all interactions are conducted, ensuring consistency and fairness.

Strategic client advice without favouritism towards any particular cloud provider is a complex task. MSPs must possess in-depth knowledge of each hyperscaler's offerings to provide the best-fit solutions. This means maintaining a versatile skill set across all major cloud platforms, ensuring clients receive well-informed advice tailored to their specific needs.

In interactions with cloud vendors, MSPs should uphold principles of fairness and transparency. Recommendations should be driven by client needs rather than any vendor preference. This transparency fosters trust with both clients and cloud providers, leading to better collaboration and mutually beneficial outcomes.

A multi-cloud future

Looking ahead, the concept of being truly cloud agnostic is expected to continue evolving within the MSP landscape. The trend of multi-cloud usage is gaining momentum as organisations recognise the benefits of leveraging different hyperscalers for specific needs.

MSPs will likely evolve into facilitators, assisting clients in navigating the complexities of multi-cloud environments and facilitating seamless integration.

Emerging technologies like AI and business automation are anticipated to play a significant role in the future. These technologies enable streamlined management of diverse cloud platforms and efficient allocation of resources, ultimately enhancing the client experience.

The pursuit of true neutrality represents a critical step forward for MSPs. By operating without allegiance to any specific hyperscaler, MSPs can harness the strengths of multiple cloud providers to deliver tailored solutions. While the journey is not without its challenges, the benefits of being cloud agnostic—flexibility, cost optimisation, and risk mitigation—are driving MSPs to strive for neutrality, empowering both themselves and their clients in the ever-evolving landscape of cloud computing.

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