The era of the Managed Service Provider (MSP) is now part of the weave of our corporate culture. The MSP provides the much-needed extended helping hand for the modern enterprise. Digital transformation has created many challenges for both SMBs as well as the larger enterprise. Cloud computing alone has many facets, and the Internet of Things (IoT) has taken this technology to the edge. As technology becomes embedded across business processes, greater skills, costs, and management, is needed.
A recent survey found that around 90 percent of organizations have a lack of skills in multiple cloud disciplines. This figure has doubled over the last three years. But technology is not going to go away anytime soon and is likely to become even more complicated. Here we take a look at the past, present, and future of the services offered by outsourcing our IT.
The MSP of the Past
Back in the day, before the advent of cloud computing, the mainstay of IT resource support was the “break and fix model”, aka a company paid a fee-for-service when outsourcing help with IT related needs.
The break and fix method, is as described, a fix it when you need it model of support. Typically, an IT engineer would be called to an on-premise problem, fix it, then bill for time and other costs. The support package would cover areas like network and hardware repairs and peripheral equipment maintenance.
As the enterprise perimeter changed when the internet took hold, things changed for IT services as well as the enterprise. Cloud computing took outsourced IT support to a whole new level. Cloud infrastructures and related apps created more productive working options; IT infrastructures became so complex that specialists were needed to optimize and maintain them.
The cloud changed the way that outsourced IT service models were delivered and entered into an era of the true Managed Service Provider (MSP).
The MSP of the Present
The technology space has literally exploded in the last ten years. A look at the internet and general ICT usage growth give us a glimpse at the scale of what we are dealing with. Research from the United Nations specialist unit for information and communication technologies, the ITU, shows that in 2018, over half the world used the internet. Cloud computing has, in turn, been a revolution in business productivity and collaboration, and is changing the way we work in a fundamental way. Cloud apps, like Office 365, Slack, GitHub, and DropBox, have brought enormous benefits in terms of remote working and collaboration.
These environments are complicated by their openness, connectivity, and technological complexity. Cloud is creating increasingly complex environments. This has led to the SMB, in particular, turning to outsourcing to find the right level of expertise and help. A 451 Research report found that “two-thirds of organizations that currently use cloud also leverage some level of managed services”.
New technologies have enabled digitization and automation of business processes, but they also require the right people to manage them.
In this period, the MSP has matured alongside technology. An MSP is designed to ensure that the SMB and larger enterprise can take full advantage of these new technologies.
5 Benefits of the MSP
The rise of the MSP has come about for several reasons including these five benefits:
- Cost-effective Access to Tech – Technology is built on innovation. The average lifespan of a technology device is woefully short. For example, estimates on the lifespan of a smartphone are around 2.5 years. This creates barriers in access to new technologies for companies trying to contain costs. The Managed Service Provider can provide a very cost-effective way to manage those costs whilst enabling access to the latest technologies.
- Compliance and risk – Regulations and legislation, especially around data and the environmental impact of computers, are being updated and made more stringent. Many companies do not have the internal staff to deal with these specialist areas. The MSP can offer help in ensuring that your organization meets regulatory requirements. This avoids heavy fines and ensures that your reputation and customer relationships are also protected.
- Access to specialists – A Managed Service Provider’s reason for existing it to specialize in the areas that other companies don’t or can’t afford to. By using an MSP, you get access to specialist staff that would otherwise be unaffordable or difficult to recruit. For example, a security analyst salary, costs on average, $88,000 in the U.S. A great MSP can become an extension to your own IT team.
- Elastic scalability – Having a third-party specialist manage your IT infrastructure gives you the ability to up or downscale with your business. An MSP will deliver options tailored to your exact needs, reducing excess costs and ensuring you only pay for what you need.
- Always-on support – An MSP can offer you 24/7/365 support. Full around the clock support is hard for organizations to put in place, especially smaller companies. Staff push back and costs escalate. MSP’s are geared up to provide varying support levels, giving you peace of mind that your IT infrastructure is protected and has excellent availability. Things like disaster recovery and back-up can also be taken care of by an MSP.
The now and near future of the MSP
Moving firmly into the present and near future, the increasingly complex cybersecurity threats we are seeing have opened up new avenues for the MSP to add cybersecurity protection to their services. This is where the MSP becomes the Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP)
In the era of the IoT, almost 50% of companies cannot detect an IoT breach according to research by Gemalto. Using the specialist security services of an MSP can ensure that a complex IT infrastructure has the best possible protection.
The MSP of the Future – Predictions
The five benefits of the modern MSP will require attention as technology continues to innovate. Many new and emerging technology areas, such as the applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI), increasing use of the IoT, and edge computing, put even more pressure on the enterprise. Data is the new edge too. Data will be the center of an MSP’s offering. Its creation, flow, analysis, and use will be reflected in how the MSP presents services.
Here are the three areas of likely future focus for an MSP as we move into the 2020s:
- Security: Cybersecurity is likely to continue to have challenges in the coming years. Technologies like AI will open up opportunities using deepfakes that a cybercriminal will exploit. Phishing, especially spear-phishing will continue to plague companies. MSP’s offering Security Operation Center-as-a-Service (SOC-a-a-Service) will be able to keep up to date with the changing face of security. This expertise will be passed onto MSP clients.
- Data: Data continues to be the pivot upon which commerce turns. To reflect the increasing importance of data in our systems and services, regulations are being updated, advanced, and created afresh. Data privacy, in particular, is a highly nuanced area that most companies do not specialize in. MSP’s are likely to differentiate themselves by offering privacy practices.
- Managing the edge: Edge computing is about data processing that happens on a decentralized network of devices away from the centralized data center. It offers the next leap in fast data analysis. Edge computing requires a fundamental shift in infrastructure management. MSP’s will be able to provide a seamless movement to the edge.
Innovations in technology open up opportunities to make firms stay competitive and productive. But with these opportunities come technical challenges. The MSP is a specialist that understands how to optimize solutions and create access to new emerging technologies on behalf of their clients. An MSP should become a very close partner to your organization. In doing so, you effectively extend your technological reach, whilst containing costs. It may seem daunting to take on new technologies that use the IoT and AI, for example, but an MSP offers confidence in moving into this brave new world of tech.