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The Role of an MSP in your Cloud Strategy

Jon Evans, CEO, Enablis Pty Ltd
In my experience, when businesses are looking to fundamentally transform the way they work, they have to take a serious look at their cloud strategy and make sure it’s aligned to their business goals. Whether these goals are to increase operational efficiency, drive new revenue streams, improve customer service or disrupt the market, there are key principles I advise businesses to follow.
The approach you take will depend on what stage your business is at. A cloud first strategy is appropriate if you have the flexibility to move your core business applications to the cloud because you’re a new business or you’re not encumbered by legacy infrastructure.
A hybrid approach works if you have a clear plan on which applications you feel comfortable moving to the cloud, versus those you’d prefer to keep within your own private network or at a data centre.
If you’re at an early stage in your cloud strategy and are still getting to grips with the options available, it can help to work with a managed service provider who will map out the most appropriate migration path based on what you’re trying to achieve.
Irrespective of what stage you’re at, there are challenges that most businesses face as they journey to the cloud.
Firstly, upskilling your internal IT team to manage the migration can be a real challenge when the skills required are fundamentally different to those of a traditional IT team. Furthermore, it can be risky to divert your team away from managing business critical IT infrastructure to plan and implement a cloud migration strategy. This can be a very significant undertaking, and one that often makes sense to outsource to an MSP with the specialist skills you don’t have in-house.
Many businesses will need to redesign their legacy networks and infrastructure to support this migration, which can be complex. For example, data that was previously routed via a private network to head office, may now be serviced via the internet, which creates a big shift in data and networking requirements.
Another big decision is which technology provider to go with. With so many options available it can be challenging to decide which one is right for your business. For example, do you go with Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) or a mix of the two? It’s easy to get distracted by service features, so it’s important to keep focused on the business outcomes you’re trying to achieve when going through the vendor selection process.
With all the benefits that the cloud offers in terms of cost savings, agility and innovation, it can also expose your business to increased security threats. Working with a Managed Service Provider with strong credentials in security can help you to lock down any potential vulnerabilities in your network.
If you decide that working with a Managed Service Provider is right for your business, look for a partner with demonstrable expertise in architecting, implementing and managing cloud-based network infrastructures and applications that can flex with your business. They should also offer a security portfolio that supports both public internet and private networking environments.
Many IT decision makers come unstuck when they select service providers who don’t invest enough in cutting-edge technology. Even though IT services are often viewed as a commodity, working with a partner who can predict where the market is going can really help to transform your business.
There’s nothing worse than investing time and money in technology that becomes obsolete. Work with someone who has a strong reputation in delivering market leading technology in data centres, data security and cloud based services.
The right MSP will be much more than a supplier. They’ll be an extension to your IT team; a true partner who’s committed to delivering outcomes and is happy to share the risk of the technology deployment. Much like any relationship, a good partnership is based on chemistry, transparency, shared goals and mutual respect. Most importantly, you need to be certain they’ve got your back.
Working with an MSP who speaks your language is vital. This means that they should know your industry and ideally, already have customers in your sector. Even though every business is unique, there’s a lot to be said for working with service providers who understand your business objectives and the risk profile you’re trying to manage.
In my experience, IT budgets are generally flat or falling, whereas demand for high priority strategic projects such as migrating to the cloud, is only increasing. This means that IT decision makers are often under increasing pressure to achieve more with less.
Work with an MSP who can help you deploy your budget and resources more effectively; who can build a business case for you and back it up with hard numbers. Ultimately, they need to convince you and the rest of the business that a cloud strategy is going to deliver measurable improvements to your business before you bring them on board.
About the Author   
As the CEO of Enablis Pty Ltd, Jon leads a passionate and focused team delivering Managed IT Communication and Cloud Services to mid-sized organizations in Australia and New Zealand.
A 25-year industry ICT veteran, in 2006 Jon founded the Australian business for Sirocom Ltd, a leading UK Managed Virtual network operator (MVNO) that later became Azzurri Communications Pty Ltd.
Eleven years on, John has grown Enablis, the Australian division of Azzurri Communications, from one employee to over 50 employees with offices in Sydney and Melbourne.
His zeal and vision to deliver smarter ways for organizations to procure and operate complex communication estates coupled with his experience in leading and driving a strong business culture focused on doing “right by the customer” have resulted in Enablis winning multiple industry awards for growth and service quality every year for the past six years.
Prior to Enablis, Jon held Senior Partner roles at major carriers such as Verizon and Optus where he helped develop and grow key integrator relationships in Europe, and later on, in Australia. Before that, he worked at Cabletron and 3Com.
Jon has sat on and assisted in technology steering panels at St Vincent de Paul. He has a passion for helping and getting involved in raising awareness and donations for a number of charities focused on homelessness and under privileged youth.