Article Managed Services May 27, 2021

How Can MSPs Embrace Multi-Cloud Architecture?

Managed service providers (MSPs) and Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs) are the key players in maintaining their customers’ cloud environments. However, MSPs need to continuously evolve in order to set themselves apart. As demand for multi-cloud architecture grows, MSPs may lose their target demographic if they only offer services for a single cloud platform.
What is multi-cloud? A multi-cloud approach combines two or more public cloud platforms to provide organizations with more services, storage options, and room for innovation. MSPs can use a multi-cloud approach to enhance their services and win more business.
Here’s why multi-cloud strategies are becoming commonplace and how managed services can embrace a multi-cloud architecture:
 

The Benefits of Multi-Cloud Architecture

A few years back, organizations began to realize the value of the cloud and started reaping the benefits of adopting it. Now that their environments are stabilized and their architecture adheres to cloud principles, they’re setting their sights on adopting a multi-cloud approach.
What factors are contributing to multi-cloud adoption? Multi-cloud enables customers to:
 

Use a wider range of public cloud platforms:

Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud remain leaders in public cloud, with other platforms available as well. A multi-cloud approach enables customers to try different services from different cloud providers and combine their capabilities for optimal performance, operations, and cost management.
 

Take advantage of different public cloud benefits:

Different cloud vendors offer a vast array of innovative features. Customers may want to take advantage of compute services, regions, pricing models, and tools for data analytics, machine learning, or software development from multiple service providers.
 

Avoid vendor lock-in:

By diversifying their cloud usage, customers aren’t left dependent on one cloud provider only. They may use some services exclusively with just one cloud vendor, or they may use both to ensure redundancy and achieve greater availability across regions.
 

Build environment resiliency:

Public cloud platforms are a reliable way for organizations to store, access, manage, and analyze their data. Multiple cloud environments bring organizations added resiliency and have other benefits, such as increased availability and uptime.
 

Ensure a global cloud strategy:

A multi-cloud approach proves very beneficial for regulated industry customers with geographic constraints. With multi-cloud, they can leverage one public cloud provider for one region, and a different one for another region. This reduces issues like latency and ensures that they meet compliance requirements for data storage.
 

Getting Started with a Multi-Cloud Approach

MSPs play a critical role not only in managing the customer’s environment but also in guiding their cloud practice over time. You can provide helpful recommendations to the customer that will allow them to get more value from the cloud. This is true whether your customer is operating in one cloud or in many.
As customers embrace multi-cloud architectures, your business should adopt the same multi-cloud architectures to understand customers’ changing needs. Keeping up with the most up-to-date technology allows you to retain their customers and help them grow by offering new services and capabilities. Having expertise in multiple cloud platforms also enables you to sell to more prospects, whether they use a single cloud, hybrid cloud, or multi-cloud architecture.
By shifting to a multi-cloud approach, MSPs need to be aware of the challenges that they might face. Keep the following areas in mind as you expand your cloud offerings:
 

Multi-cloud best practices and knowledge

For MSPs, multi-cloud adoption starts with building a team with extensive cloud knowledge and helping existing employees enhance their existing skills. To solidify their offerings, core team members need to be certified across different cloud platforms. Having such expertise will earn customers’ trust that they’ve chosen the team with the right skill sets.
While the services across different cloud providers might vary, cloud design principles remain the same. Focus on ensuring that your customers’ environments adhere to the best practices regarding cloud design principles. In many cases, this means building an elastic and loosely coupled environment with an immutable infrastructure pattern that focuses on the services.
Training and continuing education are vital for all industries operating in the cloud, including managed service providers. But that knowledge is of no use if it’s not put into practice. Make sure your team stays up to date on trends and best practices across platforms, so that they can make continual adjustments to customers’ cloud environments.
 

Cost allocation for cloud billing

With multiple clouds come more cloud costs. Cloud billing can be complex even with a single cloud platform. Businesses often have to get used to tracking operating expenses rather than capital expenditures. Without transparency around where costs originated, they may experience some “sticker shock” for cloud services.
Managed services teams are responsible for guiding their clients’ cloud governance and making costs easy to understand. You can achieve these goals by adopting a consistent tagging strategy across cloud platforms to easily track costs. Additionally, all cost reporting should provide context into current and historical cloud spend. With the right tools, you can predict future cloud costs and make purchase recommendations to help your customers save money.
Just as customers need clarity into their cloud billing, MSPs need the same when it comes to invoicing. MSPs often absorb the costs of certain cloud services if they are unable to properly allocate spending. Ensure that you have processes in place to track costs for multiple accounts, business units, departments, and application owners, so that you’re not losing revenue.
 

Multi-cloud security and compliance

Security and compliance are the other key factors that are encouraging organizations to adopt a multi-cloud approach. A central part of security-first thinking is to reduce sprawl to limit the attack surface of the cloud. Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud architectures help organizations segment their data to limit that attack surface. Within each platform, they can set granular identity and access management policies, following the principle of least privilege when it comes to data access. MSPs can help their customers achieve all of these goals and adopt a more sophisticated security posture within their cloud environments.
A multi-cloud architecture also enhances an organization’s compliance with regulatory standards, especially with regard to geographic location. Organizations in highly regulated industries are adopting multiple cloud platforms to ensure their sensitive data doesn’t leave specific geographic boundaries. The vast array of regions and edge locations available among public cloud providers give organizations more choices for where they can store and access data. MSPs are a guiding force in ensuring their clients’ cloud compliance.
 

Making Multi-Cloud Architecture Simpler for MSPs and Their Customers

Successful adoption of multi-cloud architecture comes with the right toolset. Fortunately, you have your choice of native cloud tools—as well as resources from third-party vendors—to manage customers’ multi-cloud architecture.
A third-party cloud management platform is especially powerful when it can integrate with more than one cloud platform. Multi-cloud management gives MSPs a view into all of their cloud environments within a single dashboard. These tools help you track costs, find and fix security vulnerabilities, right size resources, and follow other cloud best practices. You also save time logging into multiple solutions when you have all the data they need right in one place.
Multi-cloud architectures are constantly evolving. Now is the right time for MSPs to adopt this approach, and they need to have the right skills and tools to meet customer demand. By embracing a multi-cloud strategy, you’re better able to stay ahead of your competitors and become a trusted resource for your customers.
 

Multi-Cloud Management for MSPs, CSPs, and Resellers

CloudCheckr helps MSPs, CSPs, and resellers gain visibility into all of their cloud environments to simplify billing, security, compliance, and utilization. Discover what CloudCheckr can do for your multi-cloud architecture with a free Cloud Check Up.