Seattle, WA-headquartered 2nd Watch claims that managed services providers are falling behind public cloud's pace of innovation, with its cloud boss urging the channel to stop offering "reactive" managed services such as break-fix and patching.
EVP of cloud solutions and sales Chris Resch told CPI in an interview that, though it's a cliché, MSPs need to "change or die". Partners need to challenge themselves to evolve and not just offer "the table stakes" of managed services.
"There is a whole other level of what we call optimization. It's technical optimization, such as ensuring that the environment that you're managing is technically optimized - meaning it's scalable, it's resilient, it has everything that is required to run an application or set of workloads," he said.
Resch (pictured) notes that if MSPs want to stay on top of the services being offered by the hyperscale cloud providers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, they must be able to forward think in this way.
"One of the main challenges right now is around the pace of innovation of the hyperscale cloud providers and staying on top of that," Resch said.
"Staying in front of new product offerings that the cloud providers are coming out with, as well as the solutions that our customers are implementing or looking to implement with the providers."
To stay on top of this, the EVP said 2nd Watch leverages its high status with cloud players AWS and Azure. Being a premier partner means opportunities to get early access to different products and offerings, along with access to specific training in new services. "That's key for us," he said.
For players struggling to stay on top of the constant innovation of the hyperscale cloud players, Resch notes that training of any kind will help, "whether it's self-based training on multiple clouds or staying in front with your cloud provider".
"Keep people engaged. There's so much dynamism in the marketplace right now, so it's evolving at a faster pace than ever before and you're not always going to get it right."
The other issue facing MSPs managing a cloud environment for their customers is managing multi-cloud at scale, Resch said. Managing customers on both Azure and AWS, for example, is not a simple task.
"It's not a linear growth path, it's kind of an exponential complication and can really complicate things because you're potentially managing on-prem access and you're also managing one hyperscale cloud provider and another hyperscale cloud provider on behalf of the customer. We don't see too many like that, but it's a challenge."
Resch, added, however, this also provides the MSP with some growth opportunities.
Another area the MSP is focusing on with the changing face of the market is automation, something Resch said 2nd Watch is investing in "in a big way". Likewise security, with cloud security being particularly "dynamic", Resch said.
"To stay on top of that, it is figuring out who are the trusted vendors. Do we understand their roadmaps? Do we understand if they are fit for our customers? And can we partner more closely with them so that we can bring a better product to market? Still, you can't be an expert at everything."
There is also a change in model that Resch said MSPs continue to grapple with. With customers now being in possession of a much greater level of IT knowledge than they traditionally were, the model has gone from a ‘do-it-for-me' model to a ‘do it-with-me' model, Resch said.
"Every company now is a technology company. And as part of that they are embracing more of the technical responsibility of things. Not the undifferentiated heavy lifting, but they are certainly taking more responsibility for technical deployments, understanding their infrastructure, and it's definitely moving from ‘hey, I'm going to pay these guys to go and outsource it' to ‘hey, I want to understand how they do things'. Everybody's way more educated on technology than they have been in the past, so it's definitely raising the bar. This is not a reactive managed service anymore, it's very much a proactive managed service."
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