Managed Application Service Providers emerge as Cloud Service Brokers

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Now that enterprises are beginning to deploy a broad range of cloud services to meet varying needs, it is becoming apparent there is a significant amount of work associated with using the services that was not previously understood. Cloud integration, customization and management have become complex, reducing some of the benefits of using cloud infrastructure. But more importantly, the complexity prevents organizations from exploring the opportunities to integrate various cloud services and associated features.

Cloud computing service providers specializing in infrastructure are not necessarily the best organizations to help enterprises simplify this complexity and extend the value of cloud services. Gartner recently recognized an emerging player in the cloud ecosystem and coined the term Cloud Services Broker (CSB). Gartner defines a CSB as a company or entity that adds value to one or more cloud services and identified three key roles that a broker plays in helping cloud providers deliver services to customers:

Managed application service providers (MSP) have been aggregating, integrating, customizing, deploying and managing infrastructure and application services for years without the benefits of a cloud-based infrastructure and the integration capabilities that are now available. MSPs are poised to become critical players in the cloud ecosystem.

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MSPs are becoming cloud service brokers, leveraging their deep experience in managing enterprise applications, complex integrations and business workflows. Now that cloud computing technology has evolved, the infrastructure portion of the solution has become a utility. The hard part and where the managed application service provider's true expertise comes into play is with the aggregation, integration, deployment and management of multiple cloud-based applications to deliver a fully managed enterprise application solution.

Many initially believed that cloud computing would put managed service providers out of business. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are 11 reasons why enterprises should consider using a managed application service provider for their next enterprise application deployment in the cloud.

* Technology Experts: MSPs are typically technology experts in the areas of cloud infrastructure, data warehousing, security, business continuity, as well as in core business applications such as collaboration, supply chain and analytics. They invest significant resources in keeping their staff current with the latest technology and application developments.

* Extensive Cloud Vendor Relationships: MSPs have developed their own cloud ecosystems with technology and other feature specific service providers. They excel at vendor management as well as packaging services from multiple cloud service vendors that collectively create new functionality. They will host customer applications in their own cloud or broker/negotiate cloud services from their customer's IaaS vendor of choice.

* Efficient Operations: MSPs offer the lowest Total Cost of Ownership when it comes to IT operations. As cloud brokers, infrastructure and operations become utility and the MSP will focus on their premium skill sets on business of cloud based applications with enhanced application functional support, integration, and data analytics.

* Skilled at Large Cloud Deployments: MSPs regularly deal with large application deployments. They are experts at understanding how the applications will run in various cloud environments and across multiple geographies. Because of their broad experience, MSPs comprehend the intricacies of what works and what doesn't work that could easily be underestimated by in-house IT and can develop a low risk deployment plan.

* Customization: MSPs understand that one size does not fit all and almost all cloud deployments require some level of service integration and customization. Unlike pure play IaaS, MSPs are skilled at mass customization. MSPs expect to customize every deployment and offer a full range of professional services to support that.

* Application Experts: MSPs understand applications, how they run in various environments and offer functional support for both the functions of the application in use and the business processes that those functions represent. These application experts truly understand their customer's business workflow and how to enhance it.

* Simplification Experts: MSPs are experts at taking the complex and simplifying it for their customers. They understand how to take complex tasks and make them repeatable processes.

* Single point of contact: MSPs serve as the single point of contact to enable complex business workflows regardless of the services used. They own any problems that should arise and ensure continuity. Support is delivered by a global support team that is empowered to serve and support your business 24x7x365 with complete transparency at all levels without surprises or hidden costs.

* Service-centric: MSPs are completely service-centric. They become an extension of their customer's team and understand what it takes at all levels of the organization to make the relationship work.

* Anticipate Problems: Proactive management of both the infrastructure as well as the application is a mainstay of MSP services. MSPs anticipate problems and try to resolve them before they impact their clients.

* Simplified Billing: MSPs have been using the recurring business model for years and understand its benefits as well as its drawbacks.

When delivered effectively, cloud is simplistic, secure, and economical and delivers more value to the customer. However, as enterprises deploy more applications in the cloud, the complexity of deployment, integration and management increases. Look towards partnering with cloud-savvy MSPs that offer a suite of professional services to reduce risk during migration and give you the lowest TCO possible.

As chief operating officer, Mark is responsible for all Sales, Marketing and Operations at TriCore Solutions. TriCore Solutions, the application management experts, provides a full suite of scalable and reliable managed application, cloud, infrastructure hosting, and consulting services to enterprise organizations. With 14 years of experience, the company delivers its services and the TriCore Trusted Promise to more than 250 enterprise-class companies worldwide to reduce costs, raise service levels, improve customer experience, increase business agility, and accelerate innovation, unlocking the business value from their IT investments. Our partners include industry leaders such as Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, IBM, HP and EMC. TriCore Solutions is headquartered in Boston, with offices in India and throughout North America. 

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