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The arrival of Thanksgiving once again presents an opportunity for managed service providers (MSPs) to take stock of the opportunities that lay before them. With the spirit of the holiday in mind, here are ten technology trends benefiting MSPs, as the pace of innovation across the entire IT sector continues to accelerate.

Integration of RMM and PSA tools

Remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools and professional service automation (PSA) platforms have been the foundations on which most managed services are delivered. It’s taken a while for a convergence of the tools employed to deliver managed services and a comprehensive framework for managing the business. However, in the last year, MSPs who have integrated their RMM tools and PSA platforms have enjoyed substantial gains in efficiency.

The introduction of Cybersecurity-as-a-Service

Just about every cybersecurity provider is shifting toward making its technologies available as a service. While that may present some challenges from a business perspective, the only way to thwart the cybersecurity threats customers face today and in the future is to make these technologies pervasively available.

Given the chronic shortage of cybersecurity expertise available, there’s simply no other way to automate the management of cybersecurity at scale. It will increasingly be expected of the MSP to integrate and manage all cybersecurity services on behalf of their customers.

The rise of multi-cloud computing

Customers want to match workloads to the optimal cloud computing platform, and they don’t want to be locked into a specific cloud service provider.

The challenge they face is that each cloud platform needs to be managed in isolation. With every new cloud platform a customer embraces, the need to rely on an MSP to help manage and secure that platform.

The shift to the edge

Rather than every application workload moving to the cloud, new classes of workloads that need to process data in real-time are starting to emerge. The arrival of 5G networking will only accelerate this transition as application code moves closer to the point where data is being consumed.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is only one edge computing use case. Computing in the age of the cloud will soon by definition be hybrid.

Convergence of SD-WANs and WiFi networks

There’s a lot of debate over how this will occur. However, the need for unified software-defined approach to managing network services being consumed or delivered to a remote office has become apparent.

MSPs should expect to play a critical role in driving convergence, as more encrypted network traffic moves directly from the back office to the cloud, versus being backhauled through a local data center over a leased MPLS line.

Open source gains innovation supremacy

There was a time when open source projects just simply delivered a free alternative to an existing commercial operating system or database platform. Today, open source projects are leveraging thousands of contributions to deliver innovations at a faster pace than commercial vendors. The good news is somebody still needs to integrate and manage all these open source projects to deliver something of value to the end customer.

Kubernetes becomes container king

A shift toward building and deploying applications using microservices-based architecture that enable organizations to build more resilient applications faster using containers is well underway. With the arrival of Kubernetes, there is now a de facto container orchestration engine for the clusters on which microservices-based applications depend.

It’s only a matter of time before containers and Kubernetes clusters utterly transform everything, from enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, to how network services are delivered. Naturally, that level of disruption will create massive opportunities for MSPs that have the right expertise.

Death of the application

An application is essentially an abstraction of a business process written in software. The trouble is business processes, such as order to cash, span multiple applications. However, with the rise of application programming interfaces (APIs) and microservices, the artificial line between where one application ends and another begins is starting to evaporate.

Rather than managing a bunch of isolated applications, MSPs will soon find themselves managing business processes on an end to end basis. Customers are going to be willing to pay more to ensure any one application is always available.

Object-based storage wins the Big Data battle

Previously, the prevailing wisdom was platforms such as Hadoop would be the primary means through which Big Data would be managed. As it turns out, Hadoop has shown itself to be difficult to deploy and manage.

Instead, organizations are shifting massive amounts of data on to object-based storage systems running in the cloud that they can directly launch SQL queries against. That shift is creating demand for MSPs with data management expertise.

Artificial Intelligence comes to the rescue

Machine and deep learning algorithms are going to automate a broad range of manual processes that conspire to make everything from customer service to cybersecurity a lot more difficult than it should be. Much of that automation is going to manifest itself through speech interfaces that anybody can access.

Of course, somebody needs to build, train, and update all the AI models that will be required. It’s only a matter of time before that requirement becomes the next great managed service.

There’s more innovation occurring today than any time in the history of IT. The challenge is that not all of it has fully manifested itself. However, despite current challenges to existing business models, the future might never be brighter for MSPs.

Photo: MONOPOLY919 / 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.

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