Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Managed Services and Cloud Services: The Perfect Combo

In a comment on my blog post How To Contact Me, Cx2 asked the question:

"Do you think that even with the cloud, managed services has enough of a future or should we all be moving to our next venture. I appreciate your thoughts. Long time reader. First time poster. Thx"

I am a firm believer that this is a GREAT time to get into managed services. Not despite the cloud or in light of the move to cloud services. The combination is absolutely killer for us.

Too many people are too freaked out about cloud services.

Our experience is that cloud services have been hugely profitable. As long as you are not selling Microsoft Office 365, you can make a lot of money. In general, here's the set of products that work for us. If you're doing break/fix or even managed services, you probably sell some or all of these:

- Hourly Labor
- Monthly Maintenance (bundled into managed services agreement or MSA)
- Desktop maintenance (bundled into MSA or Cloud Service Agreement [CSA])
- Patch Management (bundled into MSA or CSA)
- Desktop add/move/change - hourly charges
- Projects
- Project management
- Hardware sales
- Software sales
- "Materials" sales (toner, cables, tapes, etc.)
- Spam filtering (bundled into MSA or CSA - delivered via cloud service)
- Anti-Virus (bundled into MSA and CSA - soon to be delivered via cloud service)
- Hosted Storage (bundled into CSA - delivered via cloud service)
- Hosted Exchange (bundled into CSA - delivered via cloud service)
- Backup and Disaster Recovery services - Built into onsite systems or delivered via MSA or CSA

We really are at a point where most of us are selling something that's cloud-based. It's so natural that we've hardly noticed.

Cloud Services and Managed Services go hand-in-hand. They are simply great compliments to one another.

Clients are NOT abandoning managed service care for their computers just because they can get a 5 GB sky drive for free with a boatload of advertising. The only thing that's really changed is that clients have options they didn't have before.

But who sorts this stuff out for them? Who helps them make decisions? Who brings recommendations and implements a smooth transition from the "old" to the "new" way of doing business: You Do!

Clients need and love their Managed Service Providers. Cloud services are just another techno-goober thing that clients don't want to know about.

I think that Managed Services is a bit like Pandora's Box. Now that it's open, you'll never get it closed. Managed Services are not right for every computer consultant. Nor every client. Cloud Services are not right for every computer consultant. Nor every client. The right mix that works for you and your clients is something you need to determine.

The Bottom Line: Managed Services and Cloud Computing are a great combination that can be extremely rewarding and profitable.

As always, technology gives us more and more for the same price point. Whether it's stereo equipment or computer services, we get more and more every year. It just looks different from what it looked like before.


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