Friday, August 11, 2017

Cloudy times ahead for SIs and MSPs?

As enterprise IT spending on cloud goes mainstream, how do more traditional SIs, consultancies and MSPs “go cloud”?

dreamstime_xxl_3042198.jpgFor Systems Integrators, IT consultancies, and Managed Service Providers, there has never been a better time for a client conversation about cloud migration. The drive for enterprises of all sizes to migrate to a modern cloud IT infrastructure is overwhelming. But if you don’t yet have the extensive experience or established reputation in building cloud solutions, how can you begin to deliver with greater repeatability, lower risk, and faster implementation.

Just how big is the opportunity?

In April, Forbes published a really useful “Roundup Of Cloud Computing Forecasts, 2017”. It compared and contrasted predictions from a range of analysts about the future growth of cloud computing, concluding that enterprise spending on cloud IT infrastructure will increase by 15% to 20% per year in the next five years – with most of that growth coming from public cloud infrastructure. Forbes’ claims are bolstered by staggering financials from the leading public cloud vendors: most recently (Q2 2017) Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) revenue surged 42 percent year-on-year (on an annual run rate of around $16 billion!) while Microsoft Azure's revenue jumped 97% year-on-year in the same period.

The shift in enterprise IT spending to cloud - now universally global, and across organizations of all sizes and sectors - represents a massive opportunity for SIs, consultancies and MSPs. Cloud specialists such as Cloudreach, Cloud Technology Partners (CTP), Logicworks and Nordcloud are already taking full advantage. They were either born in the cloud, or have fully transformed for the cloud era. They are part of a new generation of Public Cloud Infrastructure Managed Service Providers described in a new Gartner Magic Quadrant report published in March 2017. They each have a suite of well-honed capabilities, tools and processes to help customers transition to a more cloud-native, DevOps-oriented approach.

The challenges for traditional Integrators and MSPs

As the IT services market matures, enterprises of all sizes are expecting a wider range of consultancies and MSPs to meet their demands in helping transform their infrastructure. The cloud-hungry customers of tomorrow will be looking for in-depth knowledge of cloud platforms and the right processes to manage costs, sprawl, and security - but they may be looking for more than a pure cloud consultancy. These new opportunities may be long standing clients, new word-of-mouth recommendations, or companies looking for your industry-specific expertise. Whatever the reason, they will value your proven expertise in delivering solutions - but will need it delivered on the cloud. These increasing demands to deliver cloud-native solutions can present you with many challenges including:
  • Repeatability and consistency - can you deliver a repeatable practice, delivering predictable ROI, regulatory compliance, and enterprise-grade operations assurance? Or do you need to architect a complete solution from scratch for each new customer?
  • Efficiencies - do you have the necessary tools for rapid deployment of business workloads with overheads low enough for you to be competitive?
  • Credibility and confidence – without a wealth of customer references, how can you demonstrate your ability to deliver on the cloud? Can you recommend and articulate a clear path to success?
Maximizing efficiencies, minimizing risks

How can systems integrators and consultancies best operationalize to address this new opportunity with multiple moving parts & trends? How can you best develop the capability to deliver cloud projects faster, with less risk and make more money? Two clear ways of doing this are by leveraging open source technologies, and by taking advantage of greater levels of automation.
  1. Open source technologies
    Open source is now almost universally embraced, and to some degree mandated (for example in US Federal Government projects). Leveraging open source technologies allows you to efficiently build a solution from server applications (e.g. Drupal, edX) running on Linux, or to develop on top of infrastructure components (e.g. MongoDB, Node.js, PHP). This might be for a direct “lift-and-shift” of an open source-based application running in a datacenter, an extension of an existing system (e.g. a backend to support a new mobile app), or a new-and-improved alternative for an existing proprietary platform. Best-in-class open source components (created and maintained by passionate, innovative, expert communities) will provide the necessary functionality and infrastructure building blocks allowing you to focus on delighting clients with customer-specific features. They will also enable you to spin-up POCs more rapidly to demonstrate your capabilities to customers early in the sales cycle.

  2. In-house automation
    The use of in-house automation is essential. It will allow you to successfully deliver repeatable services with more efficiency and less risk. In the short term this, will help you reduce implementation time, but as the market develops it will be increasingly important to offer competitively priced services. Automating manually-intensive, repetitive tasks will help you to focus more on the client’s unique needs and help them fully realize the business benefits of migrating to cloud-native infrastructure.

    The best automation tools will also help you deliver solutions for your customers on multiple cloud platforms. In an evolving landscape, many enterprises want flexibility in their choice of cloud service. Being able to offer multiple options will help you stand out from your competitors.
Bitnami has vast experience in open source technologies - we deliver over 150 secure, trusted, and optimized applications and developer stacks for each of the leading cloud platforms (including AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and Oracle Cloud), and in multiple formats including Docker containers and Helm charts for Kubernetes. We operate at scale with more than one million deployments every month, driving tremendous value for our end users and cloud partners.

Updating and maintaining our images to the required high standard means we perform literally thousands of updates every month - CVE’s are patched and images are rebuilt/ tested/ published in the fastest possible time. The only way we can realistically achieve this is via our own efficient, reliable automated build and delivery platform. It’s so reliable and efficient we have based a successful business on it for many years.

We’ll soon be making this automation platform available for you to build and maintain custom images and templates for your customers. Find out how Bitnami can help with the heavy lifting for you to “go cloud."