I’ve had this conversation enough in the past year that I figured it was time to write it down. IT environments have become more complex with the advent of cloud services. Yes, cloud changes things. However, looking back on the two decades I spent as a managed service provider (MSP) and systems integrator (SI) I see indications of the common refrain that the more things change the more they stay the same. A large part of SI work (and revenue!) came from the hardware and software components of an implementation which are no longer required for cloud implementations. But the core of what needs to get done hasn’t changed. For MSP’s and SI’s this is a bit of a mental shift, but the opportunities are still there.
As much as we’re experiencing the consumerization of IT, it still falls on IT departments to implement new software. It’s not the complexity of cloud software that creates a challenge. It’s a matter of resources and a simple truth: there’s no IT department on the planet that is staffed well enough to handle all their current work and new projects.
The essentials of any implementation — cloud, on-premise or otherwise — remain the same. There are three key areas that need to be addressed, the same today as they have been for decades:
For whatever function you’re implementing, whether it’s HR, accounting, CRM, support, or some other Line Of Business (LOB) software, there will always be existing data that will need to be moved to the new software. Vendors often provide tools and guidance to assist with the process but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
The beauty of cloud software is that it’s really easy to stand up. However, this doesn’t mean that it comes with everything you need or it doesn’t require some customization. Out-of-the-box experiences vary but there is generally a need for some level of customization, from look and feel to alignment with business rules and requirements.
No man is an island and the same is true for software. That shiny new cloud software will need to play nicely with the other systems already in place. Cloud vendors provide varying levels of integration and API’s to facilitate this process but there’s still work to be done.
Every cloud has a silver lining, so they say. For MSP’s and SI’s cloud represents an opportunity to provide value to existing customers and connect with new ones. While customers won’t require hardware or software maintenance, they will require on-going support as their businesses grow and change, and other systems are added to their environment. And they will require the 3 essentials of cloud implementation: migration, customization and integration.
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
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