The Internet of Things gives solutions providers an expanded opportunity. It enables them to grow into the role of their customers’ single, trusted advisor and manager of all IT systems and solutions inside — and outside — of the office.
Len DiCostanzo, senior VP of community and business development for Autotask and former managed services provider (MSP), points out, “There is a tremendous opportunity out there.” To capitalize on this opportunity, solutions providers will have to do what they’ve always done — connect things through a network. The Internet of Things, however, means MSPs now need to create solutions to support their customers’ business objectives not only with technology at the office, but also with technology necessary to manage mobile devices and remote users.
IT research and advisory company Gartner estimates the Internet of Things will total 26 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, generating revenue of more than $300 billion from products and services — with Gartner adding, “mostly in services.” In “The Impact of the Internet of Things on Data Centers,” Gartner reports that data from mobile and remote devices — e.g., status or location data — can be analyzed to provide information on performance and efficiency, and, subsequently, to support wise business decision making. This data, sometimes in large volumes, must be accessible and must be protected. Gartner concludes that the growing Internet of Things demands a way to efficiently manage these systems. Joe Skorupa, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner, says, “The enormous number of devices, coupled with the sheer volume, velocity and structure of Internet of Things data, creates challenges, particularly in the areas of security, data, storage management, servers, and the data center network.”
Gartner points out the data center will dramatically change: existing data centers are sized for moderate-bandwidth requirements, but with the Internet of Things, massive amounts of small message sensor data will be transferred to the data center for processing, increasing inbound data center bandwidth requirements. Storage capacity also will have to respond to growing volumes of data. In addition, MSPs will find needs specific to the vertical markets with which they work.
Among all the challenges the Internet of Things will bring, says DiCostanzo, “Security has got to be number one.” Recent high-profile data breaches have brought the issue of security to the forefront, and Autotask gauges interest as high. The company’s webinar on Cryptolocker ransomware and roadshows in cooperation with Microsoft on Windows XP end of life for service received overwhelming responses. In addition to technology aimed at security for your customers expanding their networks with Internet of Things devices, he explains that education is crucial. MSPs can reinforce their role as trusted advisor by providing education — lunch and learn, evening seminars, webinars, etc. — to help clients and their employees follow best practices.
DiCostanzo comments that as an MSP, his business partnered to provide security services. Managing all of your clients’ IT systems and solutions related to the Internet of Things could require services beyond your company’s capabilities. The idea of partnering with someone who potentially could compete with you, however, can be a huge hurdle. DiCostanzo uses the analogy of a construction manager who oversees a building project, and uses the services of an HVAC company or a dry wall installer. “You don’t have to do everything. But you have to manage and maintain account control … It’s the difference between ‘competitor’ and ‘relationship,’” He explains.
If your customers are challenged by using new devices and expanding the number of places they call their “offices,” it’s time to look for new opportunities.
Outsourcing and building partnerships through Autotask is one of the topics slated for Autotask Community Live! 2014 in June.