Unlocking cloud neutrality

In the ever-evolving landscape of cloud computing, managed service providers (MSPs) assume a critical role in assisting businesses during their journey to the cloud. Yet, MSPs face a substantial hurdle: reconciling their clients' diverse needs with the offerings of major cloud giants, often referred to as hyperscalers. This dilemma has led to the emergence of the "cloud agnostic" approach, a strategic move to deliver services devoid of reliance on any single cloud provider. 

Lee Thatcher, our head of cloud and innovation, recently penned a duo of insightful articles for Enterprise Management 360 and Digitalisation World, elaborating on the concept. Here, he delves into how MSPs can harness the advantages of delivering multi-cloud services to their valued customers…


What does being ‘cloud agnostic’ mean?

Being cloud agnostic refers to the approach of offering cloud services that are not driven by any specific hyperscaler. MSPs following this approach have the ability to operate across multiple cloud providers, without being bound to the offerings of a single provider. This approach empowers MSPs to leverage the strengths of various cloud providers to deliver tailored solutions that best fit their client's needs.


What are the benefits? 

Organisations strive to be cloud agnostic because it offers a range of benefits, both for the MSPs and their clients. Each hyperscaler brings a unique set of advantages to the table. 

For example, Google Cloud excels in analytics and AI capabilities, making it suitable for data-driven applications. Microsoft Azure boasts enhanced security features, appealing to industries with strict compliance requirements. Amazon Web Services (AWS) holds the title of the largest cloud provider, offering extensive scalability. Alibaba Cloud stands out for its cost-effectiveness, while Oracle Cloud caters to enterprises requiring robust database solutions. By not limiting themselves to a single hyperscaler, MSPs can tap into these strengths to meet diverse client needs.

MSPs avoid vendor lock-in by not leaning on a single hyperscaler, ensuring clients retain flexibility and autonomy in their cloud strategy. This approach empowers clients to make better-informed decisions, mitigating risks associated with dependency on a single vendor.

Another benefit is that it contributes to cost optimisation by allowing MSPs to select the most cost-effective solutions from different hyperscalers. It also enables negotiation based on performance, ensuring clients get the best value for their investments. 


Technical challenges and operational hurdles

Remaining cloud agnostic presents technical challenges for MSPs. They need to build and maintain a skilled technical team capable of offering services across multiple cloud platforms. This unique skill set can be a hurdle in itself, requiring continuous training and updates to keep up with evolving technologies. 

Additionally, managing different cloud platforms comes with operational hurdles, including the need for a workforce with diverse skill sets, efficient issue resolution across platforms, and selecting the right technology for each client's needs.


Tailoring solutions and complexity of advice

To manage relationships with various cloud providers while remaining neutral, MSPs often rely on a central portal through which all interactions are conducted, ensuring consistency and fairness.

Strategically advising clients without favouring any particular cloud provider is complex. MSPs must possess in-depth knowledge of each hyperscaler's offerings to suggest the best-fit solutions. This means maintaining a versatile skill set across all major cloud platforms, ensuring clients receive well-informed advice tailored to their specific requirements.

In interactions with cloud vendors, MSPs should adhere to principles of fairness and transparency. They need to ensure that recommendations are based on clients' needs rather than any vendor preference. This transparency fosters trust with both clients and cloud providers, leading to better collaboration and mutually beneficial outcomes.


Moving towards a cloud agnostic future 

Several successful implementations showcase the achievement of being cloud agnostic while catering to specific client needs. One such example is the collaboration with a partner, PatientSource, which developed a cloud-based healthcare application. By leveraging both AWS and Microsoft, the MSP was able to harness the strengths of each platform to create a comprehensive solution.

Looking ahead, the concept of being cloud agnostic is expected to continue evolving within the MSP landscape. The trend of multi-cloud usage is already gaining momentum, with organisations recognising the benefits of leveraging different hyperscalers for specific needs. MSPs will likely evolve into facilitators, helping clients navigate the complexities of multi-cloud environments and facilitating seamless integration.

Emerging technologies like AI and business automation are anticipated to play a significant role in the future. These technologies enable streamlined management of diverse cloud platforms and efficient allocation of resources, ultimately enhancing the client experience.

The pursuit of true neutrality represents a critical step forward for MSPs. By operating without allegiance to any specific hyperscaler, MSPs can harness the strengths of multiple cloud providers to deliver tailored solutions. 

While the journey is not without its challenges, the benefits of being cloud agnostic—flexibility, cost optimisation, and risk mitigation—are driving MSPs to strive for neutrality, empowering both themselves and their clients in the ever-evolving landscape of cloud computing.


Interested in exploring a multi-cloud environment for your business?

Talk to our team today, to discover the advantages of each provider and how they measure up to your requirements. 

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