A new wave of IT modernization initiatives is creating opportunities for managed service providers (MSPs) as IT organizations struggle to master the emerging technologies.

A survey of 304 IT leaders published this week by Dimensional Research, on behalf of DataStax, a provider of a managed service built around the open source Cassandra columnar database, finds that IT modernization projects are being driven by the desire to reduce costs (79 percent), to increase customer satisfaction (68 percent), to improve employee productivity (59 percent), and to increase revenue (55 percent).

IT modernization is much easier to say than do

The survey finds that the top challenges with IT modernization are the need to keep costs under control without sacrificing performance (56 percent), rapidly changing cloud computing options (46 percent), increased time to market pressures (45 percent), and a lack of skills need to deliver innovative solutions (43 percent).

Other top-level challenges include difficulties scaling IT environments (41 percent), business stakeholders having unrealistic expectations (40 percent), data being housed in silos (39 percent), and lack of expertise when it comes to creating an IT modernization strategy (38 percent). Clearly, the average IT organization is currently experiencing a significant amount of pain. 

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The biggest sources of that pain in terms of technologies organizations are investing in are cloud architectures (85 percent), containers (65 percent), microservices (57 percent), open source software (50 percent), and orchestration (44 percent).

In terms of cloud computing, the survey finds a full 72 percent of respondents expect to managing multiple cloud computing environments for many years to come. In total, 69 percent of survey respondents also expect over half of the workloads that need to be managed will span a true a hybrid cloud computing environment.

Cloud computing issues keeping IT leaders up at night

The top issues include becoming locked into a specific cloud (95 percent), change in cloud services after a long-term commitment is made (58 percent), and the reputation of the internal IT team when the cloud vendor has an issue even though the IT team has no control to fix it (51 percent). Following closely behind that, issues included the risks associated with having to rewrite applications if the vendors change their offerings (49 percent), costs associated with getting data back in-house if needed once it is in the cloud (49 percent), and loss of pricing leverage (48 percent).

In terms of data, the survey also finds organizations are challenged by existing data silos (57 percent), the high cost of databases software (45 percent), and questionable security practices (39 percent).

Clearly, internal IT organizations are facing a complex set of simultaneous challenges spanning multiple emerging technologies. The probability of those organizations will be able to master all those technologies on their own is nil. Almost everyone of them is going to be looking to engage MSPs to help them, for example, manage the Kubernetes clusters required to run their containerized applications.

The issue MSPs will need to come to terms with is the need to invest in developing their own expertise in emerging technologies. Historically, it’s been easier for MSPs to focus on legacy technologies that are widely employed today, rather than invest in developing emerging technologies. The difference today is the rate of change within IT environments is now occurring much faster.

MSPs that become complacent will wake up one morning soon to find their customers no longer find them to be especially relevant. The decisions MSPs make in the weeks and months ahead concerning what technologies they will master have never been more crucial. In fact, MSPs that have not made those decisions are already starting to fall behind. The difference between thriving versus merely surviving in the tumultuous year ahead will all come down to the critical emerging technology bets MSPs make today.

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Photo: wavebreakmedia / 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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