Background and disclosure: My conversations with Kiphart, Carolan and Van Ash were tied to a March 7 webcast, which was sponsored by Nimsoft.
So what do those cloud experts potentially bring to the table?
- Launched in 1997, Logicalis has grown to 2,500 employees, and blends data center services with managed and cloud services -- everything from IaaS to disaster recovery as a service.
- ViaWest launched in 1999 and has grown to 315 employees. I believe the company ranks among the largest privately held, independent data center providers in the U.S., blending colocation and hosting services with cloud and managed services.
- Nimsoft started out as an on-premise IT management platform that has expanded to include a cloud-based platform plus IT service management software.
MSPs: Three Cloud Computing PathsKiphart, Carolan and Van Ash see three ways for MSPs to distinguish their services in the cloud.
- Customer Service Strategy: Here, MSPs will need to take on the likes of Rackspace, which focuses on Fanatical Service. But here's the twist: I think so many cloud providers offer lousy customer service that there's still room for MSPs to differentiate here.
- Vertical Market Strategy: This is another popular path, but we all know how difficult it is for a VAR or MSP to "master" a vertical market (say, health care). I'd imagine it's even more difficult to go vertical in the cloud -- but Kiphart, Carolan and Van Ash offered some reassuring guidance.
- Compliance Strategy: From HIPAA to PCI, you're likely familiar with the acronyms that scare executives and thrill auditors.
A Closer LookSo how can you get started in one or more of these areas? The experts recommended:
- For customer service, make sure you're industry-agnostic and develop a well-defined service level agreement, then go exceed that SLA with unparalleled support. Offer great change control/management, alerting, escalation, and quick isolation/resolution.
- For vertical market, focus on the business challenges in a specific industry, master that industry's language, deliver industry-specific apps, and aggregate different technologies built for that industry.
- For compliance, zero in on ISO/IEC 27001 to establish a scalable security framework.