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As hybrid cloud computing becomes more complex — thanks to rise of so-called cloud native computing models — there appears to be an increase in the willingness of IT organizations to rely on managed service providers (MSPs).

A new survey of 124 IT professionals working in organizations with more than 500 employees conducted by OpsRamp, a provider of a platform for automating IT operations, finds 58 percent of survey respondents say their organizations are looking to shift responsibility for certain specialized workloads over to MSPs, while simultaneously reskilling their internal IT team . Another 19 percent say they plan to work more closely to work with MSPs to fill in IT gaps. While that represents a potential boom for MSPs, it’s also worth noting that nearly a quarter (23 percent) of the survey respondents say they conversely plan to shift responsibility for some workloads from MSPs to reskilled internal IT teams.

While such a shift represents a potential existential threat to MSPs, the fundamental challenge internal IT organizations face is that they generally lack the skills required to master emerging cloud-native technologies, such as Docker containers and server-less computing frameworks. Most internal IT operations teams are still struggling with mastering the management of application workloads running on traditional virtual machines that have shifted from on-premises IT environments to public clouds. Most of the use cases involving public cloud IT environments are not fundamentally different from a legacy on-premises IT environment. They simply rely on much higher levels of automation to manage virtual machines optimized for a specific public cloud.

Emerging platforms such as Docker containers, however, are giving rise to new classes of workloads based on microservices architectures. This approach makes it easier to deploy and update applications more agilely at scale. The tradeoff is the management of the underlying IT environment becomes more complex for IT operations teams. Not surprisingly, that increased complexity is pushing many IT organizations to rely more on managed services provided either by a cloud service provider or a third-party MSP. The more cloud services an organization decides to employ, the more likely it becomes that they will rely on a third-party MSP to achieve a level of proficiency across multiple clouds. While cloud service providers represent new competition on some level, the upside is that  managed services become a more widely acceptable option to a much broader range of customers.

Opportunity and risk associate with computing

While the OpsRamp survey makes it apparent there are plenty of opportunities for MSPs as a new era of cloud computing emerges, the survey also makes it clear there is a lot of risk. Not every internal IT organization appreciates their MSP equally. More than a few will view a transition to a new era of computing as an opportunity to bring some workloads back directly under their control, especially if they consider MSPs to be more of a rival than valued partner.

The good news is MSPs are generally in a much better position to acquire new IT skills than internal IT organizations. After all, acquiring new IT skills for an MSP is a cost of doing business. Internal IT organizations need to not only find time for employees to acquire new skills, they often need to find ways for the internal IT staff to get trained on new platforms. In the absence of success in achieving that goal, internal IT organizations need to compete against other internal IT organizations and service providers for the best talent. History has shown time and time again that service providers have a distinct salary advantage when it comes to being able to hire the best talent.

Heading into this year, it should be evident that MSPs have more to gain than to potentially lose. The surest sign that an MSP has become complacent is failing to invest in developing the IT skills they will surely need to stay relevant in 2019 and beyond.

Photo: g0d4ather / Shutterstock

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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.

One Comment

  1. This is remarkable when we see how far the world is changing so fast through technology…… Making things move faster in terms of communication skils.


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