Railroad Cloud Computing

MSP 3.0: DevOps, Apps and Cloud Railways

Where are IT service providers heading next? And should they build, buy or partner there way into cloud computing? Answers emerge from IT Nation 2015.

An IT Nation 2015 panel, hosted by LogicMonitor’s Andrew Morgan, explored those questions and more. The panel included:

Topic 1: Build, Buy or Partner in the Cloud?

What questions should IT service providers ask as they weigh their own plans for data center build outs.


  • TekLinks built out three data centers early on, but will buy in terms of solutions built atop public clouds. There’s no way to compete with Amazon, Powell said. TekLinks sees opportunity to work with both Microsoft Azure and AWS. “You’d be foolish to bet against Amazon, but you’d also be foolish to bet Microsoft applications are done.”
  • On the enterprise front, it’s a question of whether the customer already has their own data center, Bell said. “The ship has sailed, though, for anybody that wants to build a business building their own data centers.” Focus on how to consume specific clouds for specific services, Bell said.
  • LogicMonitor has its own data centers running an application performance monitoring platform. Early cloud service providers (CSPs) were building early — three to five years ago. The idea was to maintain control and amortize the costs over time. The company still maintains its own data centers in order to deliver five-nines service delivery. Ironically, it’s expensive to run those types of services in the public cloud, ironically.

Topic Two: How Build Enterprise Value?

Theme: One third of midmarket line of business managers are bypassing corporate IT to pursue cloud services. Roughly 40 percent of CIOs and CTOs have changed their internal business processes to align with business needs.

So how can IT service providers build recurring revenue value in the midmarket?

  • Bell: Stay far more curious about technology than customers. Humans are inherently lazy. As an MSP, you can  take advantage in a good way of emerging technologies — then figure out how to bring that to your customers.
  • LogicMonitor: Careful not to over-pivot too much into a new market… it can be a busy killer if you invest far too heavily into a region. You can also lose focus on your core value. Instead, focus on competence and confidence in what you deliver.

Question from ChannelE2E: If big companies like Hewlett-Packard Enterprise are punting on public cloud, should partners event consider getting into the cloud game? Answer from panel: HP and others strayed from their core missions and never really had the right model or expertise for public clouds. As channel partners, stick with the CSPs that understand what the heck they’re doing.

Topic 3: Moving to the Application Layer

To remain relevant, attendees said they need to work more closely with midmarket DevOps teams. They’re becoming much more valuable to MSP relationships.

The idea is to bring even more value to make sure application performance is top-notch.


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    Anthony Chiappetta:

    Great stuff Joe, this was an insightful session at IT Nation. This may make me sound silly, but coming from a Windows network administration technical background, it took me a while to try and figure out what DevOps even was before I could figure out how to start the journey of moving to ‘MSP 3.0’.

    I’m curious what you guys are seeing as a definition of DevOps – and how MSPs are making the transition to supporting the 3.0 model.

    Joe Panettieri:

    Hey Anthony,

    I owe you a reply to the comment you posted over the weekend as well. I promise to get to that soon. In the meantime, I realize the DevOps conversation can get complicated. Here’s how it can be boiled down/simplified for MSPs and their end customers.

    1. END CUSTOMER NEEDS: More and more SMBs are pushing beyond basic infrastructure maintenance. They want sustained innovation — whether it’s SaaS applications or some sort of customer application atop IaaS or in a co-location center. That’s basically DevOps… sustained innovation through ongoing software enhancements.
    2. MSP OPPORTUNITY: What if MSPs could manage both the infrastructure level and the application level for customers? In some cases , the MSP may assist with software development. More often, I suspect it will involve optimization of applications. So 99% of DevOps may remain with the customer. But the final 1 percent could involve MSPs fine-tuning the application(s). Not just once. But ongoing in a sustained manner…

    That’s just one example. I’m sure there’s dozens more.

      Anthony Chiappetta:

      Thanks Joe! We agree with your vision on the future and will keep working on it over here!

    David Powell:

    Hey Anthony-

    For me, the DevOps approach is about optimization, scale, and automation. How do you allow your service delivery to be more efficient? (Thinking like the continual delivery application model where you are constantly iterating and improving.) How do you scale beyond your best guy? (Too many MSPs are dependent on a single guy or guys. How do you build for scale so that you can efficiently bring on net new customers.) How do you automate your processes for repeatable results? (Can I take the onboarding steps that my implementation team has been doing an automate portions of that.)

    That’s how I think about DevOps in the Service Provider space.


      Joe Panettieri:

      David: Great to see you on the panel. Sorry I had to leave a little early for my flight. And thanks for always educating me/our readers. While I try to capture the essence of your expertise, it’s always great to see you sharing it directly (without my interpretations fogging up the view) with ChannelE2E’s readers. Onward. Upward. -jp

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