How MSPs Are Evolving: A Snapshot of Partners

CA’s Ken Vanderweel
Author: Ken Vanderweel

Cloud adoption -- and the new realities of the app economy -- are driving shifts in the market that MSPs must address. This was more evident than ever in my recent discussions during workshops with 10 MSP partners from six countries across Northern Europe. We discussed business strategy, and focused on how we can help our partners realize maximum success in their markets.

In today’s application economy, with software at the heart of every business, we collectively agreed that our shared market success is ultimately predicated by the quality of business applications.

Adapting to customers’ focus on application economy

Several of the MSP leaders we spoke with are realizing that by offering more top-down, application-focused services, their organizations can address customers’ demand for support for their digital transformation efforts.

Half of the MSPs we met with have already established application plays, offering such services as application performance management (APM), virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), application development and more.

Through our discussions, it became clear that the move to deliver offerings in areas like application experience analytics, continuous delivery and DevOps has accelerated. We found several examples of how partner offerings are evolving.

One partner that’s been offering application monitoring for several years is exploring offering new services that provide user experience analytics for mobile applications. Another MSP is looking to add application experience monitoring services to their core infrastructure management offerings.

Common challenges

While each MSP possesses a very distinct service mix, business model, market approach and history, many of the MSPs we spoke with were wrestling with common challenges.

One MSP began to expand their services to enterprise businesses, but their distinctive telecom legacy, supported by existing tools and processes, made it difficult to establish more unified, centralized platforms and procedures that spanned both market segments.

In several instances, we evaluated MSP websites and news channels, and, after hearing executives describe their businesses and positioning, found the current business reality was out of sync with the story that’s being broadcast into the market.

Adapting to the cloud

For years now, the adoption of cloud services has been one of the biggest trends confronting MSPs, and the changes and implications continue to be profound. The majority of the partners we met with already have some cloud services plays today, and many are making moves to monetize cloud offerings.

For example, one partner had deployed and managed monitoring platforms on customers’ premises, and was devising a plan for efficiently migrating these customers into cloud-based environments and consumption models.

Another MSP is planning to change its business model and start becoming a managed cloud service provider. In this effort, executives are strategizing on how to partner with vendors like AWS and Microsoft Azure, and which services to focus on initially.

Establishing optimized, adaptable operations

As they look to help customers going through digital business transformation and adapt and expand their services to meet changing market demands, MSPs also need to transform their own operations.

In these efforts, both technical and business processes need to be developed and refined to make their business repeatable, flexible and scalable. One of the MSPs was looking to enhance its operations through establishing a more formalized, standardized service catalogue.

While in the past, they had been delivering more ad hoc services in response to specific customer requests, they realized that to scale they’d need to build more structure and consistency around their operations.

Helping customers with their digital transformation

All the partners we met with have established services based on CA solutions, or are in the midst of doing so. A large percentage of partners are capitalizing on the comprehensive coverage of CA Unified Infrastructure Management (CA UIM) to expand services in such areas as hybrid clouds, VDI and service level management. In addition, given their customers’ focus on applications, MSPs were keenly interested in CA App Experience Analytics. Further, MSPs are exploring how they can leverage CA solutions to deliver high-value DevOps services.

These workshops provide our MSP partners with face-to-face meetings in their local offices, yet they are only one of the ways CA supports our partners. We also offer an extensive array of enablement resources on the Service Acceleration section of our Service Provider website, which includes resources in such areas as operations, sales and marketing and business strategy—all specifically for service providers.

To learn more about how MSPs can facilitate their customers’ digital transformation, see our white paper: “Opportunities for Service Providers to Drive Enterprise Digital Transformation.”

Our teams will be doing similar tours in the months ahead, so be sure to stay tuned for more updates on what we learn from these upcoming MSP engagements.

Ken Vanderweel is senior director of service provider solutions marketing at CA Technologies. Read more CA blogs here.