Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft have pulled away from the rest of the cloud service provider pack. In terms of market share, Microsoft as witnessed by its most recent financial results is making gains to the increased consumption of Microsoft Azure.
But even with those gains, it’s also clear that in terms of market share AWS is still larger than its next three rivals (Microsoft, Google, and Alibaba) combined. Alibaba this week officially laid claim to the number three slot by edging out Google in the latest cloud market share report from Gartner due to the increased adoption of its cloud platform in Asia-Pacific. But collectively, Alibaba and Google combined only make up seven percent of the global market.
Overall, Gartner forecasts that global IT spending will only grow a modest one percent this year. The biggest factor in that limited growth is the shift away from on-premises IT environments to public clouds. That shift not only increases the demand for cloud services, it also increases the amount of application software being consumed. That transition naturally brings an increased demand for cloud migration services expertise.
The challenge and opportunity for MSPs
The issue that MSPs need to come to terms with, however, is not just what cloud platforms to focus their efforts on. MSPs need to decide what level of partnership they want to have with cloud service providers that continue to expand their portfolio of managed services.
Of course, not every customer is not going to sign up for managed services provided by a cloud service provider, many will prefer to maintain control of their IT environments, especially when employing multiple clouds. But over time, MSPs will need to focus more of their cloud efforts on helping to deploy and manage applications running versus managing infrastructure that will increasingly become the sole province of the cloud service provider.
The good news from an MSP perspective is that the next generation of cloud-native applications being deployed on those public clouds are more complex to manage. Based on microservices-based architectures that rely heavily on containers to isolate various components of an application, the rate of change occurring as these applications are continuously upgraded will be substantially faster as organizations increasingly adopt best DevOps practices. To remain relevant, MSPs will need to develop management frameworks that can be customized to meet whatever set of DevOps process a customer has defined, or they can attempt to define those processes on behalf of the customer. Atos, for example, just launched a managed DevOps service in collaboration with CloudBees and Google.
Whatever the path chosen, the days when application updates occurred once a quarter are coming to an end. Most organizations want to add more functions to their applications faster than ever. At the same time, those organizations don’t necessarily have the skills required to achieve that goal without relying more on MSPs for help.
MSPs should take comfort in the fact that their services are going to be required more than ever. The challenge is that the nature of those services they will be profoundly different.
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