Blog July 31, 2019

AWS, Azure, or Both? Considerations for MSPs Thinking of Offering Cloud Services to Customers

Business owners and IT leaders the world over are discovering the advantages of leveraging cloud solutions across a wide spectrum of their operations and infrastructure. From data storage to disaster recovery, MSPs that expand their service offerings are ensuring their longevity in the industry.

However, when it comes to these expansions there are multiple aspects that the Managed Service Provider must consider. Adding a single option such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon’s AWS may sound perfect in theory, but the time commitment and monetary investment involved in simply getting a single technician certified is a considerable undertaking.

And the question is, will that move provide the necessary ROI and have the impact on the customer base that you’re looking for?

Most likely, a majority of your customers current rely on you for monitoring and managing tasks that are time-intensive. This generally includes their infrastructure components such as routers, switches, firewalls, load balancers, and the like. That means that MSPs that invest in the right new offerings are going to continue to be competitive.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Because AWS is designed to empower your clients with the ability to quickly and securely host their mission-critical applications and data, by adding AWS management to your portfolio of offered services you are able to offer your clients an entirely new array of IT solutions. With AWS, you’re not only able to significantly ease the burden of migrating their existing applications, you’re also positioned to help them preserve all options for the development of future solutions.

AWS simplifies migration by empowering you to offer multiple options. With Amazon’s Server Migration Service (SMS), you can quickly and easily migrate their on-site servers to AWS while the Data Migration Service (DMS) enables you to even offer migration from one type of database to another, ie from Oracle to MySQL.

Additionally, your clients will be able to choose exactly which OS, language, application platform, database, etc that they prefer while taking advantage of the secure, scalable, and reliable global computing infrastructure that provides the backbone of Amazon itself. Furthermore, by utilizing available tools like Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing, your clients can easily scale up or down based on demand.

AWS Certification

With just over 26 hours worth of testing to get fully certified, and of course that’s not including study and prep time, and just north of $2,500 in fees, positioning your MSP to offer AWS management is not a small investment. Especially considering that those fees and time requirements are per administrator!

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam is $100 and at the Associate Level, certification exams cost $150 each and the Professional Level and Specialty certification exams are $300 each. Each certification exam covers a large amount of material and real-world scenarios, therefore your team will want to spend plenty of time leveraging Cloud Academy for studying and taking practice quizzes and preparation exams.

The exams include both multiple choice and multiple response questions. With the multiple choice questions, testers are presented with a scenario that has four or more possible solutions, but only one answer is considered correct. The multiple response portions again have scenarios with four or more possible solutions, but these require testers to select a combination of two or more as the best answer.

While the testing portion may not be an extensive time investment, those wishing to get AWS certified can spend a considerable amount of time on studying and practice quizzes and exams. For small and medium-sized MSPs, this alone can be the biggest roadblock to adding AWS management to their list of services.

Microsoft Azure

When considering adding cloud services, overlooking the second largest cloud service provider is a mistake that all too many MSPs are making. To stay competitive in today’s market, MSPs wishing to offer cloud services have to seriously consider Azure as well.

Azure provides a very beneficial combination of Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). PaaS allows your clients to develop their own apps and web solutions without having to purchase the underlying framework. IaaS enables them to outsource their infrastructure, paying only for what they use, and with SaaS, they can utilize remote application hosting and delivery and benefit from the significantly lower startup costs, seamless integration, and hassle-free upgrades.

Azure also simplifies operations by utilizing the same on-premise virtual machines like Linux and Windows and is the only cloud platform that currently offers Blockchain as a Service (BaaS), Machine Learning, Cognitive API capabilities, and Bots. With Azure, your customers get a broader range of hybrid connections, such as: VPNs, CDNs, ExpressRoute connections to improve usability and performance, and more.

With enhanced backup and disaster recovery capabilities, useful tools such as Github, Eclipse, Visual Studios, XCode, and Hadoop, and open standards and Internet protocols such as HTTP, SOAP, REST, and XML, Azure is the exact solution many of your customers are looking for.

Azure Certification

Just as it is with AWS, certification for Azure requires a good bit of studying, time commitment, and of course includes fees for each and every exam. There are a number of Certifications available and most of the exams are $165 for each attempt, meaning that if you fail, you have to pay the entire fee again on any subsequent attempts.

From the Fundamentals to Expert DevOps Engineer exams there are currently just under ten total, which means that the monetary investment on this end is significantly lower than AWS. However, The “Expert” certification level is targeted towards those with typically have at least 2 to 5 years of experience with the platform, which will significantly hamper your ability to offer a complete array of Azure management services for quite some time.

Furthermore, many of the Expert level certifications have the prerequisite of passing the Associate certification first and you’ll be required to pass up to 3 exams to earning that Expert Certification. Testers do have two different options for taking their certification exams: registering for the exam and completing it in a Physical Testing Center, or completing it online as long as they meet a few requirements.

The Obvious Answer

Choosing to offer your customers one cloud management option over the other is simply going to result in missed opportunities and dissatisfied clients. The cost and time hurdles are restraining paining MSPs from even attempting to consider adding either option, which again means the organization is missing some key expansion opportunities.

Leveraging the power and popularity of AWS and rounding out your offerings with Microsoft Azure management is how smart MSPs are planning to compete today… as well as tomorrow.

To accomplish this without undergoing the extensive studying and money investment, you need to form strategic partnerships. Even some of the biggest and most successful companies in the world owe their success to partnerships and they have been responsible for some of the biggest innovations of our time.

When searching for the best partner, there are quite a few options and even more cropping up almost constantly. Therefore, in order to ensure your success and your customer’s satisfaction, it’s imperative that you find a partner that stands above the crowd.

Safeguard your future by not settling for a collaborator that only offers one or the other. MSPs that truly want to compete now and into the future simply have to partner with an organization that includes all of today’s top choices.  With Connectria, you can grow by offering a wide range of new services to your clients including AWS and Azure. Our team has helped MSPs like yours support clients large and small of years through advanced cloud technologies. To learn more about a partnership with Connectria, contact us here and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

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