The age of the cloud is finally starting to have a major impact on how networking and security infrastructure gets deployed and managed.
A recent survey of 700 IT professionals conducted by Cato Networks, a provider of software-defined networking and security technologies, finds that as application workloads shift into the cloud everything from how remote offices are connected to a network to where firewalls are being deployed is changing.
Interest in SD-WANs and firewalls-as-a-service
Case in point is the rise of software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs). Just over a quarter of the respondents (26 percent) said that they plan to make a shift to SD-WANs. Generally deployed in place of traditional routers, SD-WANs make it simpler to choose between multiple types of network connections to link a remote office either back to a data center or directly to a cloud service without having to backhaul network traffic through a corporate data center.
At the same time, the survey notes that firewalls are starting to follow application workloads into the cloud in the form of rising interest in firewalls-as-a-service. A full 41 percent of the respondents said they expect to deploy firewall-as-a-service offerings.
In both cases, interest in finding a third-party to manage both SD-WANs and firewalls deployed in the data center is running high. The reason for this is that internal IT organizations are much less comfortable managing anything outside their own data centers. While cloud computing might make organizations more agile from an IT perspective, Cato Networks CEO Yishay Yovel says it’s clear that many of them are struggling with both the cost and complexity. That in turn bodes well for managed service providers that are perceived to have more expertise managing remote IT infrastructure.
Competition and challenges in the cloud
On the downside, however, it’s also becoming apparent that manufacturers are ramping up the managed services they sell around their products. In addition, cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) continue to expand the scope of their managed services. In many cases a new generation of IT service providers is simply opting to resell those services instead of developing their own portfolio of managed services. The result is a significant change to the competitive managed services landscape in the age of the cloud.
MSPs will need to decide when and where they want to pick their battles. In cases where they can provide differentiated value, it will make sense to build out a specific managed service from the ground up. In other instances, the better part of economic valor may be to simply incorporate a managed service provided by someone else into their portfolio. The decision concerning what path to take will come down to what degree the MSP feels the need to be perceived as providing every aspect of an IT service to an end customer.
In the age of the cloud, there’s more nuance to delivering managed services than ever. The good news is the opportunity for delivering those managed services is expanding. The bad news is with that expansion comes more potential competition.