If there ever was a notion that managed IT services were just for small businesses, it is certainly not the case now. In fact, more than three quarters of 100 IT directors (78 percent) working at companies with at least $500 million in annual sales and IT budgets of at least $50 million per year are planning to increase their reliance on managed service providers (MSPs) in the next 12 months.

Based on a survey conducted by 2nd Watch, a provider of managed services, the findings suggest enterprises are planning to lean on MSPs more heavily to navigate both the rapidly changing IT landscape and the economic turmoil brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the survey, 93 percent of respondents use at least two cloud platforms, with Microsoft Azure being the most widely deployed. Nearly two-thirds (60 percent) said they are prioritizing projects with potentially large payoffs over cost-conscious projects. Nearly half (47 percent) said now is the time to position their company for the long haul, while 39 percent said they are accelerating the use of the cloud to deliver digital products. As part of those efforts, more than a third (34 percent) said they are accelerating the migration of applications to the cloud.

The cloud migration rate will vary widely

In many instances, an existing on-premises application will be retired in favor of a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application. In other cases, custom cloud-native application development projects will be launched with the expectation of being able to attain some form of a sustainable competitive advantage. Arguably, the most challenging of all initiatives is migrating a customized package application running in on-premises IT environments to more modern equivalent hosted in the cloud. Mapping and testing business process across, for example, two instances of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application requires a significant amount of time and effort.

The decision large enterprise IT leaders are trying to come to terms with is the degree to which they can rely on their internal IT staffs to master emerging technology platforms at a time when most IT professionals are working from home. It’s simply not feasible to send IT staff somewhere for onsite training given current travel restrictions. Many IT leaders have historically preferred to rely on MSPs to manage simple tasks while focusing their internal efforts on next-generation applications and platforms. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic many large enterprises are now looking to MSPs for that expertise.

MSP face the same training challenges

The MSP that has either already invested in that training or found a way to gain access to that training online has much to gain. In effect, MSPs have about six months to establish themselves as the experts that can be relied on to move IT projects forward that enterprises are betting on to survive. The difference between merely surviving the current economic downturn and thriving for many MSPs will clearly come down to skills and training.

As such, MSPs would be well-advised to evaluate vendors partners on their ability to provide critical training outside of a traditional classroom. There’s no shortage of videos to watch. However, a video is not a substitute for hands-on training. Training can take place online. It’s just not every IT vendor has the same online training capabilities.

MSPs did not create the current crisis. Someone is going to step in and fill the current void. Savvy MSPs will make sure they have the skills required to take advantage of any and all opportunities their end customers are willing to provide.

Photo: THINK A / Shutterstock

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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