By Phil Martin, CEOIn a recent set of predictions for global business, NetApp Storage lists #1 as 'Increased movement to the cloud'.
While not exactly startling, it was the conclusion they come to that caught my interest. “Organisations will begin to recognise they need a hybrid cloud model to serve their application portfolio. … This shift will have enormous repercussions for IT teams. Their role will begin to require them to act as brokers across these diverse cloud models.” (Emphasis added.)
In this article I offer some views on why IT will become a broker of services.
Less direct control for a gain in agility
Moving to the cloud usually means giving up a degree of control. (The main exception being on-premise private clouds.)
Now, there is growing understanding that there is more to be gained than lost by adopting the cloud. This means passing on management of mission-critical applications and the infrastructure they run on. Makes the right choices and the result is a great set of outcomes from the service provider. If not, the entire business can suffer serious harm..
Selecting the right cloud services should save costs (not least by moving budget from capex to opex). More of the IT budget can then be invested in new applications and technologies. These in turn enable the business to react faster to new market conditions. And people resources are freed up enabling IT to focus on initiatives that drive the business.
The new model: IT services broker
Outsourcing is not an entirely new model. IT has long engaged specialists such as consultants, systems integrators or facilities managers. The major difference with the brokering model is the decrease in control by IT.
MSPs (managed services providers) generally locate their services remotely . A wide range of suppliers may be bundled into just one contract. The MSP chooses who will provide the services and hos. Many sub-contractors can be invisible to the customer. So brokering decisions are all about the levels of trust and confidence in that MSP.
Today, many organisations realise that managing infrastructure is not the best use of resources. Using employees to ‘keep the business’s lights on’ is inefficient.
The first move to brokering of services is often a contract for remote back-up and recovery with an MSP. In time, when hardware comes out of maintenance, the organisation can migrate to the more cost-effective MSP model. The move from capex to opex is complete.
Taking the burden off IT managers
There are two other areas where MSPs can help. These are areas where busy in-house IT managers can struggle:
- keeping current with technology trends
- recruiting, up-skilling and retaining the right staff
MSPs such as SASIT invest in vendor relationships to keep up with technology trends. We can then filter out much of the industry noise to help identify the right future directions.
In addition, investment in skills training and retaining staff are vital for MSPs. Skilled consulting, operations and support staff are how MSPs earn the trust of customers. In the end it is the quality of our advice that enables our customers to choose the right set of services to broker.
or IT to make the shift to services broker requires some strategic thinking. And now cloud computing adds both complexity and opportunties to benefit. That's why more organisations are using independent, external specialists to help with core tasks. If this new shift in thinking is of interest to you, please comment below.