Managed public cloud services have seen a surge of investment among partners, with businesses fueled through organic growth or acquisition.
Companies selling such services provide a range of offerings including account configuration, security consulting, cost optimization and ongoing monitoring to name a few. Managed public cloud practices are proliferating around AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.
A report from Accenture, which offers managed public cloud services, suggests the industry’s investment stands to pay off. About 87% of the respondents to the professional service firm’s survey said they would consider the use of managed cloud services. Accenture polled 200 senior IT professionals worldwide. The resulting study, Perspectives on Cloud Outcomes: Expectations vs. Reality, revealed a paucity of cloud expertise among organizations drives customer interest in managed cloud.
Augmenting cloud skills
Indeed, “access to the right skills” was the top benefit respondents cited with regard to managed cloud services, according to Accenture.
Siki Giunta, managing director and cloud strategy lead, journey to cloud, at Accenture, suggested the skills gap stems from organizations compelled to build a cloud center of excellence and institute DevOps at the same time they are dealing with legacy applications.
“They don’t have the spectrum of skills” to span those initiatives, she said.
A managed public cloud provider can augment an enterprise’s skills. That could mean maintaining cloud-based applications, helping clients create a cloud operating model or providing security advice. A managed services provider (MSP) or systems integrator, for example, could take over the maintenance of legacy applications bound for the cloud, while the customer focuses on building the skills it needs to develop cloud-native applications, Giunta said.
Accenture, she added, is placing a particular emphasis on helping customers secure applications running in the cloud. In that capacity, the company serves as a “guide and watchdog,” making sure the client deploys the appropriate security controls.
Meeting cloud expectations
The prospects for managed services look upbeat, but not every cloud has a silver lining. MSPs should be prepared to work with customers that are somewhat dissatisfied with their cloud experiences. A bit more than a third of Accenture’s respondents said the cloud had completely met their expectations with regard to cost (34%), speed (36%), business enablement (35%) and service levels categories (34%), Accenture reported. The task ahead for service providers is dealing with the two-thirds of organizations yet to fully benefit from their cloud moves.
The unrealized promise of cost savings is one area of cloud disappointment.
Giunta said organizations thought they could move an application to the cloud and dollars would drop from their balance sheets. That benefit hasn’t always materialized, however.
The problem stems from enterprises treating the cloud as a technology transformation rather than a business transformation, noted Kishore Durg, cloud lead, growth and strategy, at Accenture. Getting business value out of the cloud requires decisive moves that yield significant cost savings — the ability to close an in-house data center, for instance. A less aggressive approach to cloud adoption leaves an organization with the expense of traditional IT while it invests in the cloud operating model.
Enterprises face the choice of either jumping into the cloud and getting all of the benefits or having a clear strategy for maintaining innovation, speed and a competitive edge while running dual operating and cost models, Giunta said.
Just migrating a couple of applications to the cloud won’t deliver the anticipated benefits, Durg suggested.
“If you do [cloud migration] piecemeal — application by application — you are not transforming how your business runs,” he said. “To really see the value, you need to have a business-value journey, not an app-to-the-cloud journey.”
Accenture’s research contains some implicit advice for other managed public cloud services firms: Encourage clients to think about the big picture rather than the migration of individual apps to the cloud.