Earlier this month I came across an interesting article written for MSPs (managed services providers) and their potential role in helping ISVs manage their cloud. MSPs, as the name suggests, provide 24/7/365 services to their customers — often SMBs in professional sectors such as law, healthcare, and financial services who need help managing/supporting their IT infrastructure. MSP services are offered as a monthly subscription and often include remote monitoring and management of IT assets, backup and disaster recovery, security management, and cloud migration. The idea is to create a bundle of services that give customers peace of mind while earning the MSP a healthy stream of recurring revenue each month.
In the article, an MSP states that ISVs could become a new market worth pursuing for cloud services. “There might be a five-person company that is starting to work on an application or has run an application out of some legacy hosting facility for 10 years. They really want to get to Azure, but they don’t know how to do it. Or if they get there, they really don’t know what to do with it,” says the MSP.
Prior to reading the aforementioned article, I would have said that managing your cloud infrastructure isn’t a big deal — certainly not big enough to outsource it to an MSP. Still, the MSP interviewed claimed to have two active ISV customers, with two more in the pipeline. He argues that ISVs don’t have the skillset or interest in maintaining their cloud.
“These people have ideas, might be good programmers, and can make an app do some really unique things… but you actually want it to run, stay up, and be affordable in the cloud. That’s not a skillset they really have. Maintaining something 24 hours a day is certainly not something they’re interested in doing,” he points out.
Many of the ISVs I’ve talked with have done their own research to determine whether Azure, AWS, Google, or something else is best for them. Once the decision is made, they’ve established the relationship with the vendor and taken the steps of migrating their software to the cloud.
Indeed, late last year, DevPro Journal polled our ISV readers to better understand their criteria for selecting a cloud provider. The survey results indicated that most ISVs have no problem handling this for themselves; however, some did allude to taking a lot of time with evaluation and migration.
The idea of paying an MSP to do some or most of this work is intriguing. After all, as an ISV, wouldn’t your time be best spent working on features and functionality that can improve your software and serve your customers? Is managing your cloud pulling you away from other, more important, tasks? Offloading the job to an MSP means cloud management, scaling, and security are taken care of for you.
Maybe you’re already set with your cloud provider(s). Maybe you feel more comfortable having everything under your own control. Maybe you don’t want to have another monthly expense. That’s fine. But if you’re the type of ISV that would rather focus all your energy on feature development and not spend time managing your cloud, working with an MSP might be the way to go.