By Jack Dawson
Complex legacy systems are fast showing their inflexibility to meet today’s business pressures of increased consumer demands, supply chain shortages, and recurring economic uncertainty. The market volatility has driven many businesses towards cloud-based systems that enable ‘evergreen’ IT strategies providing consistent updates and the ability to quickly add new functionality to match business goals. But such a large-scale migration is not without its own set of challenges. Evergreen solutions may provide short-term operational stability and long-term sustainability but can only truly be exploited when underpinned by a dedicated Managed Services Provider (MSP).
The facts speak for themselves. There has been a noticeable surge in cloud adoption across the board, with IDC forecasting that “whole cloud” spending – total worldwide spending on cloud services, the hardware and software components underpinning the cloud supply chain, and the professional/managed services opportunities around cloud services – will surpass $1.3 trillion by 2025, while sustaining a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.9%.
But cloud has not quite been the silver bullet that everyone predicted. Even though the vast majority of public organisations are using or will use cloud services, there are some knowledge gaps in what data organisations are running and storing in their clouds. Notably, this hints at a lack of ability to consistently support and maximise this new infrastructure with the support of in-house IT teams.
Given this backdrop, the role of an MSP (Managed Services Provider) has become essential to bridge this digital divide in the cloud ecosystem. In fact the Global Managed Services Market is expected to reach USD 274.20 billion by 2026 – due in large part to recent surges in cloud adoption, as more companies move from test environments to place more of their work-critical workloads into the cloud and encounter digital hurdles.
Evergreen IT strategies require top-notch support that can match up
Evergreen IT management is quickly becoming a business necessity rather than an option in the cloud-driven software environment. Advances in technology and business applications require a higher level of expertise, which for many businesses is too costly to manage in-house. A specialist MSP can assist with this, alongside tailoring the management, installation, and forward-planning of software to ensure minimal business downtime.
But migrating is only the first step. Despite their benefits over complex legacy implementations, cloud systems require regular maintenance and monitoring that often reaches beyond the capacity of traditional IT systems.
Specialist software requires specialist IT professionals. With an MSP, businesses can avoid pockets of disruption, reduce IT burden, and offload the upkeep of cloud systems and resolution of faults to experts capable of optimising digital ecosystems. Operating within a wider evergreen strategy, MSPs will streamline IT systems to generate cash savings and increase digital efficiency across cybersecurity, transformation projects, and long-term planning.
- Evergreen strategy prioritises iterative updates over ‘Big Bang’ transformation
Overhauling legacy systems often requires businesses to undertake digital transformation in one large, disruptive operation. An evergreen IT strategy on the other hand, keeps a cloud-based system online throughout to allow businesses to conduct smaller, more regular updates either weekly, biweekly, or monthly. These can be planned at optimum times to avoid downtime, support business continuity, and mitigate against lost profits. Disruption during transformation is always a risk, so incremental changes also mean pockets of disruption can be easier to isolate and resolve.
An MSP expert has the time and knowledge necessary to craft a bespoke strategy for transformation, which builds-in operational resilience and offsets potential downtime. For instance, round-the-clock help desks mean businesses can access support and advice whenever they need it, to allow the fastest resolution of problems during the onboarding process.
- Tap into the knowledge base of an MSP to reduce IT burden
MSPs don’t just offer support during implementation, they have a wealth of systems knowledge that businesses can exploit to assist with automation updates, faults, and internal process reviews.
For industries such as the manufacturing sector, downtime can account for 5% – 20% of working time, with lost productivity costing up to £180 billion a year. Automating cloud processes such as self-service and e-ticketing, with the support of an MSP, decreases potential downtime caused by mistakes from manual handling in legacy systems.
Internally, MSPs can also encourage the collaboration of critical information across separate business functions to widen the spread of knowledge – increasing adaptability and realigning employees with business identity.
Looking forward to the future, it is critical for organisations to navigate supply chain disruption, predict periods of difficulty or economic stagnation, and budget downtime for systems maintenance into operational calendars. MSPs can handle these business-as-usual tasks and allow internal staff time to strategically plan future operations.
- MSPs keep a digital watch on cyber and security threats
In a world where a business falls victim to a ransomware attack every 14 seconds, the ability to monitor systems digitally is a necessity. But with 69% of businesses unable to keep pace with the rising costs of avoiding cybercrime, security issues risk draining financial resources from other operational areas. This is where an evergreen IT strategy supported by an MSP can provide operational scalability stretch to help businesses counter the ever-evolving threat posed by cyber criminals without losing precious internal resources.
MSPs take on the burden of safeguarding infrastructure, data assets, applications, network, and personal computers by managing vulnerabilities and threats throughout their lifecycles with specialist evergreen software. This consists of a three-pronged approach of firewall monitoring, infrastructure antivirus monitoring, and PC antivirus monitoring, which targets typical points of vulnerability such as phishing emails, the most common origin of malware attacks.
MSP support ensures that businesses meet regulatory requirements, manage overall risk and compliance, and prevent security incidents before they turn into an epidemic and cause business-wide disruption. Additional support of cloud innovation secures hybrid working models, which boosts employee satisfaction and mitigates against cybersecurity threats caused by workers home routers and other external technology touchpoints.
Evergreen strategies are critical for business vitality – trust the experts implementing them
With economic uncertainty always potentially around the corner, the need for an evergreen strategy to streamline, secure, and sustain operations is vital for business continuity. As much as an evergreen strategy relies on seamless, incremental digital transformation, it also needs to deliver end-to-end efficiencies and futureproof cloud ecosystems against any business disruption. But it is clear that going cloud is no longer enough.
Enlisting the specialist skills of MSPs to augment and hone the skills of a company’s internal IT teams is vital. An evergreen strategy secures technological longevity and ensures businesses maintain market gains through difficult periods.
Jack Dawson is an executive with Columbus UK.