MSPs don't need to create a cloud "story" they can bring to customers, and they should instead focus on providing a wide range of options for their customers.
That's the advice of Quest Technology Management's CEO Tim Burke, who told CPI in an interview that he doesn't want to limit his firm's scope to just providing one type of service.
"Where we see our prospective growth with customers is that we can work with you on your premises and also help you if you want to go to AWS or Azure. We're ambivalent as to how you want to consume these technologies, and that's become very successful for us versus ‘I have a story and my story is I'm an Azure guy and I go out and port people to Azure and do whatever has to be done to move them to Office 365', as an example," he said.
With more and more customers moving to the cloud space, confusion abounds regarding where data is stored, who owns what in terms of infrastructure, and how it is managed, Burke said.
To this end, Quest now focuses on the notion that customers have "multiple needs and multiple requirements", rather than a defined need that can be met by a singular outcome.
"More and more customers are obviously moving to the space, and I think there's confusion and blurring," he said.
"We realized that from our perspective as an MSP, I don't really care anymore where [customer data] resides. And I think there's that trend growing as an MSP.
"There are certain MSPs that have evolved and said, ‘well, I'll help you go to AWS and that's my business model'. And certain others who say, ‘well, I'll help you go to Azure and that's my business model'. But our approach now is customers have multiple needs and multiple requirements, and that's how we see our prospective growth."
Though the single cloud vendor business model is not one Quest is pursuing, Burke notes it can obviously be successful. However, it risks clients thinking that if they are making a move to the cloud, they have to choose a single provider, he said.
"Clients are still thinking, ‘I'm going to go to the cloud, I've got to make a choice - AWS or Azure, or am I going to go to a local provider? Or I'm going to go buy some space at Equinix and put it in there? But it's not really that anymore; it's kind of all over the place. You can do a lot of different things, which is very exciting."
To this end, Quest focuses on the "melting point" of all the different cloud ideas and technologies, Burke said, which has been key for the MSP.
"We have found our success to be the ability to bring all those pieces together for the client, rather than saying to a client, ‘well, here's what I do, would you like to buy some?'."
This has helped Quest avoid the "confusion" that some other MSPs are facing when it comes to customers and the cloud, Burke said. For channel players who may have started as VARs, this can be even trickier to navigate, Burke noted, as being a VAR was often about affiliation with a certain vendor.
"In the old days as VARs, we'd initially plant our flag with some provider. Many MSPs have come from the VAR channels and they were affiliated with Cisco, IBM, HP, whoever. And so they see the world as their affiliation with somebody in that regard, and that's becoming a bit blurry because there are just so many different players out there."
As an example, he cites VMware running their hosted offerings with AWS, which is causing some head-scratching not just with customers, but in-house.
"I tell them ‘It's fine, we're a VMware partner so we can go work with clients who want to see that as their option as a solution - we can help them get there and make that happen, and put it on our SLA'. However, I think MSPs generally are somewhat confused about all this stuff going on versus embracing it."
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