August 22, 2014

In a One-Size-Fits-All World, Hybrid Cloud Provides a Platform for Engineering Artistry

Hybrid cloud provides the ability to leverage cloud offerings in conjunction with on-premises resources to create an ideal platform for an MSP’s biggest asset, engineering artistry.

In the technology service industry, the emphasis on both efficiency and the “drive to zero” run rampant. While the cost per unit and mass delivery appeal, companies still find themselves stymied by the restrictions of a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Hybrid cloud provides the ability to leverage cloud offerings in conjunction with on-premises resources to create an ideal platform for an MSP’s biggest asset, engineering artistry.

I like to represent my alma mater by wearing baseball caps for my weekend and outdoor activities. However, I have found this to be increasingly difficult. The issue? A shift in manufacturers to a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Efficiency is the name of the game. Why take the time and energy necessary to design custom fits when you can provide just one? Manufacturing becomes more streamlined, core materials are purchased in larger quantities and there are obvious gains in supply chain operations. The hat is marketed as one size fitting everyone, and additional options are deemed unnecessary, even wasteful.

However, there must be a subset of people outside the “all,” because these hats don’t fit me, nor do I have many creative options. It begs the question, are service providers in danger of running too quickly down the “one-size-fits-all” efficiency model, at the cost of companies that see a larger picture and willing to pay for the right fit?

While gazing at MSP efficiency in the mirror, it’s important to realize that clients are reviewing their technology hat in the mirror as well. What is their interpretation of your MSP business? Do clients see a trusted professional service organization aligned to their identity and values? Conversely, do they see a company attempting streamline them into a “one-size-fits-all” solution that in truth is only a perfect fit for the MSP?

While the cloud appears to be a battle of the behemoths — those trying to rule the world (one-size-fits-all), there is actually an abundance of cloud providers establishing unique niches. For those niche providers, I wish creativity, innovation and the hybrid cloud.

The greatest asset owned by service providers is what I term “engineering artistry” — the ability to identify, implement and sustain business solutions through innovative and creative use of technology.

An engineer’s tool set has largely consisted of on-premises machines, networking devices and software. Cloud offerings have now expanded that tool set to offer more creative opportunities. However, make no mistake: The proper selection and successful implementation of cloud tools is at the core of engineering artistry possessed by the MSP.

Here are some types of hybrid cloud solutions that can be used as a tool in the engineer’s artistry tool belt:

Use efficiency where fitting: Many cloud vendors have refined the process and dedicated the hardware resources to be excellent at one thing. Leverage these where it isn’t cost effective for the client to do themselves. Offsite backups and collaboration are two popular cloud solutions in this space.

Cloud bursting: When a client underestimates the popularity of their application or simply doesn’t have the capital to invest at outset, cloud bursting can prove a valuable ally. As demand spikes beyond the private infrastructure capacities, cloud bursting reaches out to a public cloud to provide the temporary relief to keep business flowing and customers happy.

Security and threat management: Security is an every-second-of-the-day priority. Unfortunately, by the time a security issue is identified, it is often too late. Leveraging security cloud offerings helps ensure the latest security threats remain at bay before hitting on premise equipment. Such offerings may also ensure threats do not leave your customers’ sites and adversely impact their clients. Web proxy and spam companies are prevalent in this space.

The freedom to “break it”: The best practice is to run all updates in a test environment before rolling into production. If most companies could afford to do it, the MSP’s life would be so much easier. This has left many providers caught between a “patch or not to patch” conundrum. Fear no more, the utility model provided by many cloud providers will allow you to sell the proper testing environment without asking to break your clients’ bank accounts. With some design and engineering artistry, the solution can even act as a complete site recovery solution.

Customers want the right fit. By using the tools of cloud offerings, onsite tools and engineering artistry, the MSP community has the platform to create the ideal fit for its customers. Everyone likes a good fit. Speaking of which … I need to go find a hat.

Brant Roberts launched Binary Pulse LLC nearly 20 years ago and serves as its chief technology strategist. He has evolved Binary Pulse from its beginnings as a traditional IT service company to a managed service provider, cloud service provider and, most recently, technology strategy firm. A recognized expert in network engineering, cloud computing, IT consulting, and legal systems, Roberts holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and business from Arizona State University and is working toward his master’s degree from the University of Arizona.

Hear more from Brant Roberts in the session, “The Perfect Fit: Use Cases Best Suited to Hybrid Cloud Computing,” at Cloud Partners, a Channel Partners event, Sept. 8-10, in New Orleans. 
Hybrid cloud provides the ability to leverage cloud offerings in conjunction with on-premises resources to create an ideal platform for an MSP’s biggest asset, engineering artistry.