Ian Trump, global cyber security strategist and member of CompTIA's IT Security Community, shares his thoughts on current IT trends.
There are several major IT trends I see that are both challenges and opportunities and they affect IT professionals working at companies, channel vendors and IT providers and MSPs. Clearly, mobile, cloud-based technologies and more effective security are identified as two of the key challenges moving forward, however there are also technologies such as AI, IoT and big data analysis that will push the limits of both the skillset of those working IT and service offerings.
On top of this, IT professionals working inside companies are being forced to look at the cost savings associated with software-as-a-service (SaaS) models to securely adopt new technologies and extend legacy applications – or replace them altogether – into the cloud and deliver those applications into the mobile space. Virtualization, hosted platforms such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software defined networking (SDN) will all be leveraged to do this. The old approach of just-keep-it-working is not good enough. Business has put up with IT as a bottom-line expense and new technologies are forcing companies to ask themselves questions like, “How do we make it better?” or “How do we move to something that does the same, but costs less?”
With the cost of Azure and Amazon, as well as other hosting providers, coming down, it is harder than ever for internal IT departments to justify the purchase of physical tin boxes. Market forces are conspiring against businesses that are spending huge amounts of money on physical infrastructure. Competitive advantage is being lost, and the lower costs from SaaS – sometimes by an order of magnitude – are giving businesses unprecedented scalability and agility when it comes to improving existing services or rolling out new ones.
Once an order is placed for SaaS, PaaS or IaaS offerings, there is no wait of three to five weeks for shipping, there are no RMAs for broken or lost/wrong parts, the setup time is measured in minutes, not days, and memory, processing and storage is almost infinitely expandable.
The numbers from a recent IDC report paint an even more aggressive rate of cloud adoption in 2017 and the future:
- IT buyers across the globe are set to spend about 25 percent more on public cloud services this year compared to 2016, with software as a service (SaaS) accounting for most purchases. MSPs need to be implementing, monitoring and re-selling cloud.
- This pace of public cloud investment looks set to continue well into 2020, with the analyst house predicting a 21.5 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
- SaaS products account for about two-thirds of purchases and will make up around 60 percent of them by 2020
- Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) segments are expected to grow far more quickly, with IDC predicting five-year CAGRs of 30.1 percent and 32.2 percent, respectively. MSPs need to be the ones bringing these products into customer environments.
This movement to cloud is pushing channel vendors through a profound change. In the context of the business transformation identified previously there will be increased competition and dynamic change to robust and secure SaaS offerings. This SaaS adoption by channel vendors is required by the MSPs and IT providers who are working to or have already become trusted advisors, enabling their customers to reap the benefits of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. Channel vendors, armed with new SaaS offerings, have to help educate their customers on how to cloud, how to mobile and how to secure so MSPs and IT providers’ can meet the demands of their customers.
The channel vendors must respond with learning materials and partnership to provide support and education on their service offerings. The complex migration of on-premises applications and hardware to an IaaS provider will be a niche skills set. Channel vendors have to align with the products and services demanded by businesses and then build that capability with their partners.
MSPs and IT providers are also going to face their own challenges. The old way of doing business and the old way of billing for services is abruptly changing. Fulfilling the diversity in skillsets – from hardware and software migration and managing ris to identifying a myriad of SaaS and IaaS options as a trusted advisor – will be the main challenges. In particular, securing hybrid and fully hosted services demands a complete change in how MSPs and IT providers build, maintain and monitor their customer networks. More than ever, MSPs and IT providers will have to pick the right partners to deliver secure solutions. The hardware is becoming a commodity and the true value of MSPs and IT providers will be to bundle SaaS, PaaS and IaaS offerings to meet business need and growth trajectories of their customers.
Bottom line: Your customers are thinking about the cloud and as an MSP or IT provider you should be too.