How to Move to the Cloud as an MSP

Written by George Lattimore on September 29, 2018

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Everything from AWS to G Suite, from Office 365 to the kitchen sink, is moving to the cloud. As the IT landscape shifts beneath them, organizations are pulling up their on-prem roots and moving with the tide—and why shouldn’t they?

Moving to cloud services has been shown to give organizations a 20% reduction in time to market, an 18% increase in process efficiency, and a 15% cost reduction in IT spending. Once the ball starts rolling, potential clients are then looking to MSPs for guidance and help managing momentum with all of these cloud-based resources.

At least 34% of businesses wish they had a central location to manage their applications, and only 20% say they have everything they need from cloud services. Now, more than ever, for those admins fielding a growing inbox of client requests, the question is top of mind: how to move to the cloud as an MSP?

Why the Cloud? Why Now?

By 2022, Gartner predicts that 28% of spending from key enterprise IT markets will have moved to the cloud. The Vice President of Research at Gartner explained, “The shift of enterprise IT spending to new, cloud-based alternatives is relentless, although it’s occurring over the course of many years due to the nature of traditional enterprise IT.

Cloud shift highlights the appeal of greater flexibility and agility, which is perceived as a benefit of on-demand capacity and pay-as-you-go pricing in cloud.”

Why the Cloud?

For those remaining MSPs who haven’t reached it yet, a crossroads is rapidly approaching. Do you want to continue maintaining Active Directory on-prem with layers of web-based applications, cloud servers, and SSO added on? Or, are you ready to shift your tech stack, directory, and clients to the cloud?

All signs are pointing towards a continuous increase in cloud migration, and therefore, simply trying to ignore the cloud is a losing battle. According to Kaseya’s 2018 MSP Benchmark Report, 86% of of 900 MSP firms surveyed now offer cloud services at some level.

Furthermore, over half of those surveyed reported an increase in revenue generated from cloud management services in 2017. Kaseya’s closing advice to MSPs? “Cloud services continue to offer ample room for growth. MSPs unable to increase their cloud-based revenue would be wise to expand beyond their current offerings.”

While Datto found that 75% of MSPs were found to still offer break-fix services in some way, Kaseya found that break-fix services only accounted for 18% of their respondents’ revenue in 2017.

Managed services, on the other hand, provided 33% of revenue. When you also take into account lack of time and resources is the biggest challenge for MSPs trying to grow in 2018, you can see why shifting the underlying business model to cloud-based managed services is picking up so much traction. There’s just too much efficiency, opportunity, and demand to ignore.

Four Steps for How to Move to the Cloud as an MSP

        1. Integrate Cloud Solutions into Your Product Stack

This first step may seem obvious, but with so many third-party, cloud-based tools available for MSPs to leverage, choosing the right combination for a product stack is simply fundamental. Management efficiency, security, and ability to scale all come into play eventually since these layers are being tethered back down to Microsoft  Active Directory (MAD or AD).

Because Active Directory has limited native connectivity outside of Microsoft, each third-party solution adds another layer of complexity, employee training, and expense. Once an MSP moves their clients to hosted email, virtual file storage, web-based applications, and cloud servers, Active Directory becomes the final on-prem root to pull.

Cloud adoption for managed services

        2. Replace Active Directory (if needed)

Once MAD is identified as the root of break-fix maintenance and a serious pain point for MSPs trying to scale, alternatives can then be explored. But, in truth, there are really only 3 options available for replacing AD: a) manual management, b) open source software, or c) Directory-as-a-Service.

For smaller organizations with fewer resources, manual management can make more sense than managing AD. For MSPs, however, servicing dozens of client organizations simultaneously via manual management can be problematic. In a similar way, open source software (such as SAMBA, OpenLDAP, FreeIPA), can be difficult to implement and painful to maintain, and doesn’t really have a multi-tenant concept.

Replacing Active Directory with a cloud solution

For clients with Active Directory, our Quick Start Active Directory Migration Guide breaks the migration process down into four steps:

  • Migrating user accounts from AD to JumpCloud®
  • Inviting and Activating your JumpCloud Users
  • Integrating apps and WiFi to authenticate against JumpCloud
  • Converting AD bound systems and users

          3. Move Client Infrastructures to the Cloud

JumpCloud has helped tens of thousands of organizations move their infrastructure to the cloud. So, while each of your client organizations may seem like a uniquely complex scenario, rest assured we have a use case that aligns with their needs.

Our Cloud Directory works natively with Windows , Mac , and Linux  machines as an independent, protocol/platform agnostic, cloud-based directory service. Cloud services as well as on-prem and cloud-based web apps are supported through LDAP-as-a-Service, SAML, RADIUS, SSH keys, etc., and can be integrated with G Suite, O365, and much more. Further, this cloud directory service is tuned to work with MSPs in a multi-tenant model.

system management

To reiterate, for those clients coming from manual management with G Suite or Office 365, JumpCloud provides directory-level integration. All of your client accounts can be directly imported into JumpCloud and managed efficiently with the ability to provision, deprovision, and modify user access to systems, on-prem and web applications, cloud servers, WiFi, and more. IT admins can even manage their Windows, macOS, and Linux systems with GPO-like Policies. For those clients with no directory in place, implementation is straightforward for them as well.

Once you’ve integrated cloud solutions, replaced MAD if needed, and migrated clients to the cloud, you’re ready to scale your business with JumpCloud.

        4. Scale with JumpCloud

As the demand for cloud-based services continues to rise, your business can be positioned accordingly with a cross-platform, protocol agnostic cloud directory that encourages flexibility for your clients.

jumpcloud multi tenant portal

Beyond accelerated onboarding, no server maintenance, enhanced security, and compliance support, JumpCloud also provides MSPs with the Multi-Tenant Portal. This feature of the platform centralizes control and management for multiple organizations from a single dashboard.

The feature is offered for free to members of the JumpCloud Partner Program, and allows remote IT administrators to work more efficiently, and scale their business. If you’re interested in moving to the cloud, get started by applying to be a Partner.

George Lattimore

George is a writer at JumpCloud, a central source for authenticating, authorizing, and managing your IT infrastructure through the cloud. With a degree in Marketing and an MS in Public Communications and Technology, George enjoys writing about how the IT landscape is adapting to a diversified field of technology.

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