4 Reasons Why MSP’s Shouldn’t Build a Cloud Migration Practice
The Great App Migration has begun and the business opportunities from cloud computing’s boom have never been greater. In February, IDC reported that cloud spending had grown 25 percent since 2016, a rate nearly seven times faster than spending on traditional IT. To facilitate their move to the cloud, companies are turning to service providers to help them advise and drive their digital transformation projects, largely because they lack the internal know-how to feel confident on their own. As a matter of fact, recent survey by 451 found that just under half of the enterprise respondents are using or plan to use a service provider for transformation programs, though nearly all participants (92 percent) expressed a willingness to work with service providers.
Companies clearly need assistance in the cloud, and they finally seem ready to get started. According to analysts, 18 percent or more of enterprise applications will make their way to the cloud in 2017. That number is predicted to hold steady in 2018. If these figures are correct, that means more than half of all enterprise applications will make their home in the cloud over the next two years.
In looking at this data, many MSPs and Sis are scrambling to build practices to support this migration gold rush, but is it a good idea to invest time and resources into building internal migration capability? Here are a few reasons why you may want to explore partnership opportunities instead.
#1 The Clock is Ticking
Nearly half of enterprise applications will move to the cloud over the next 24 months. Depending on your source, 50 to 70 percent of those apps will be candidates for re-hosting, commonly referred to as “lift-and-shift” (we prefer lift-and-optimize), which is significantly less expensive, resource-intensive and risky. It’s the fastest way to move an application to the cloud, and re-hosting still provides customers with the cost savings and agility they expect when they move architecture to the cloud.
Of course, not all applications will be candidates for re-hosting, but being able to identify those that are and deliver them to the cloud quickly will help build customer confidence. This will also give MSPs an opportunity to get workloads to the cloud faster, which means they’re managing infrastructure sooner.
#2 Cloud Migration is a Point in Time
It will take more than two years for most companies to move everything to the cloud, but once there, it’s unlikely to move back into a physical data center. While workloads may move between clouds in the future, the effort will be centered around portability, not initial migration.
The migration of an application from an on-prem data center to the cloud is when applications require the most change to ensure compatibility and performance. Drivers, kernels, anti-virus and other monitoring tools will need to be changed or deployed on the workload and in the target environment. File structure, security groups and policies will all need to be evaluated and configured. And, as a cost control measure, it’s a good time to review server utilization to make sure workloads are moving into right-sized environments.
After this initial lift, application portability should be more of a copy/paste exercise than a transformative activity. Consider the resource investment of an in-house migration practice. Will you allocate resources from other areas? Will you hire migration-only staff? What will you do with these employees once initial migration projects slow?
#3 The Only Source of Knowledge is Experience
Customers need experienced partners to guide them through the cloud journey. A recent Forrester report determined that labor costs account for 50% of cloud migration project costs. They also note in the report that this labor cost steadily declines with project experience. Cloud migrations scenarios vary by customer, but often times project delays are the result of environmental issues in the customer data center. If your migration teams have seen these scenarios before, they’re probably fairly easy to overcome. But it will take time to gain this level of experience and expertise.
Your local handyman can repair a leak in your roof, but when it comes to replacing it,you want a roofing company that offers the skills, experience and tools to do the job right.
#4 Maintain Focus on Your Core Competency
To the credit of many MSPs and integrators, they have spent a lot of time ramping up skills and staff to advise on digital transformation and manage infrastructure once it’s in the cloud. But, moving an application isn’t a matter of moving servers from one rack to another; this AWS blog highlights the need for MSP’s to innovate and illustrates how far they still have to go.
Offering cloud migration services to customers will require new staff, technology and tools to support automation, and the knowledge, certifications and competencies to gain customer confidence and win deals. In thinking about the time you’ve invested in training and certifying your teams to manage infrastructure in the cloud, do you have that amount of runway to do the same for a migration practice? Does it even make sense to do this, or should you continue to evolve your current competencies? Most importantly, will your customers wait or will they look to another provider to deliver on their cloud dreams?
In the end, migration services need to offer a balance of speed, effectiveness and affordability. Don’t get distracted by the cloud migration frenzy – instead look to partnerships, or even acquisitions, to supplement cloud migrations as part of larger digital transformation offerings. While migration is an important moment in time, it’s still a moment in time.