As if we needed a new buzzword to scratch our heads at, the emergence of the term “Web-scale IT” has many doing just that. Gartner defines web-scale IT as “a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers in an enterprise IT setting.” Oh, now I get it… NOT!
Basically, Web-scale IT is a term created to describe what titans like Google and Amazon are doing in order to achieve their head-spinning levels of scalability and agility. It’s through a series of new processes, architectures, and practices that these high levels of effectiveness in cloud services are possible. Cloud computing, agile development, DevOps and continuous delivery deployment are a few of the components that come together to form the foundation of the Web-scale IT mindset.
That’s all well and good for the giants of the software industry, but what does it mean for you? To be blunt, what this really amounts to is a new way to handle the same old problems, which simply means higher expectations for us mere mortals.
As this term continues to edge its way into popular lexicon, it’s going to mean that MSPs will need to start to adapt to the heightened expectations of our end-clients. Let’s take a look at three ways that MSPs can adapt to better fit the Web-scale IT model.
Enabling clients to utilize some aspects of a Web-oriented infrastructure is going to be a business necessity in the not-so-distant future. More and more, businesses are reliant on data portability and the ability to work efficiently no matter where they are. This means that whether they are stuck in an airport in Atlanta or working from a home computer during a snow storm, clients want their employees to have access to all of their necessary tools.
All of this means that you not only should start (if you haven’t already) migrating some of your own infrastructure to the cloud, but it is also important for service providers to start looking into partnerships that allow them to re-sell a portfolio of cloud-based versions of applications, such as Office 365, the Adobe suite, and Evernote.
No, every client won’t be demanding this service, but you’ll likely be a step behind competitors if you’re unable to appease this type of request from prospective clients. On-premise is acceptable, but even your least technical clients will appreciate your ability to provide them with some cloud-based infrastructure.
Enable Agile, Collaborative Processes
You won’t necessarily be able to galvanize collaboration within your client’s organization, but you will be able to enable it.
Making a stable, secure file sync and share tool part of your arsenal is another big step toward satisfying the needs of a client that is moving toward the Web-scale model. Whether it’s a client’s sales team, finance team, or development team, everyone appreciates the ability to more efficiently share and store business-critical information and documents. As much as they continue to try, Dropbox simply is not a viable solution for businesses to rely on. This means you need to do your research to find and provide a solution that you and your clients are confident in.
For clients with agile development teams it is also an added value if you can equip them with Web-based project management tools of their choosing, such as Trello and Basecamp.
Provide Stability in a Risk-Embracing Culture
The ideas behind the Web-scale movement can all be boiled down to the three S’s. The first S (scalability) is aided by a web-oriented infrastructure. The second S (speed) is achieved through improved collaboration and agile processes. But the final S (stability) will end up being the most valued aspect of this whole model.
Being able to provide a sense of stability for businesses that are increasingly trying to push beyond their existing limitations is going to be an absolute necessity in coming years. This means that regardless of what may go wrong, there’s got to be a backup plan in place to keep clients up and running as seamlessly as possible.
Backup solutions that make use of techniques like continuous data protection will go a long way in ensuring that your clients data is safely backed up on a minute-to-minute basis, rather than a day-to-day basis. The same goes for off-site and cloud redundancy. When disaster does strike, these are the types of technology that will prevent data loss and provide a level of continuity that will be extremely valuable to your clients.
By Carlos Borges
By Ray Vrabel