U.S. enterprises are expecting more from their Microsoft MSPs (managed service providers), as Microsoft moves to an as-a-service model and the Microsoft Azure cloud hosts more enterprise business systems and software, a new report from Information Services Group (ISG) (Nasdaq: III), a global technology research and advisory firm, finds.
Microsoft-certified managed service providers (MSPs) are asked to migrate an array of applications – including SAP and other non-Microsoft applications – to the Azure cloud platform and to make them work not just on Azure, but on other clouds, according to the ‘2020 ISG Provider Lens Microsoft Ecosystem Partners Report for the U.S.’.
MSPs focused on Microsoft Azure are “likely to be indistinguishable from the systems integrators and value-added resellers of the past,” said Jan Erik Aase, director and global leader, ISG Provider Lens Research. “Clients expect their MSPs to perform these other roles and offer such services as application development and management and DevOps.”
Microsoft is encouraging technology vendors to participate in its Cloud Solution Provider program through which vendors embed Microsoft technology into their own solutions. Microsoft also offers an intellectual property co-sell program that rewards partners for selling third-party solutions that run on Azure.
Encouraging AI, IoT Investments
MSPs would need to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities as Microsoft moves ahead with AI development and implementation across Microsoft Azure, the report says. While many enterprise customers aren’t yet ready to use AI, MSPs would need to enhance their AI expertise to keep up with Microsoft certifications and partnerships. The new focus on AI will ‘further blur any remaining lines between Azure MSPs and traditional system integrators and VARs,’ the report notes.
The report also sees a growing interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced data analytics among U.S. enterprise customers. MSPs are beginning to use their expertise in the IoT and data analytics to differentiate themselves from competitors.
U.S. enterprises are also evaluating Microsoft MSPs for their ability to work with large and complex databases, to optimize network connectivity and to integrate with other critical software applications, the report says. Enterprises want MSPs that can minimize downtime before, during and after migration to the Microsoft as-a-service model.
The report also sees enterprise adoption of Microsoft Office 365 enabling integrated delivery of Microsoft products like Office, Exchange and Teams, while improving directory services, digital rights management capabilities and other core digital workplace capabilities. Because Office is the de facto enterprise productivity platform, Office 365 would increasingly become a key component of digital workplace solutions.
The report finds at least half of MSP business related to implementing and integrating Microsoft Office 365 begins with U.S. enterprises seeking migration and modernization of enterprise productivity software. This would suggest that MSPs need a set of baseline development, implementation and integration tools and skills.
About the ISG Report
The 2020 ISG Provider Lens Microsoft Ecosystem Partners Report for the U.S. evaluates the capabilities of 40 providers across four quadrants: Managed Service Provider for Azure, Office 365 Integration, SAP on Azure and SharePoint Integration.
The report names Accenture, Capgemini, Cognizant, DXC Technology, HCL, IBM, NTT DATA, TCS and Wipro as leaders in all four quadrants. Infosys is named a leader in three quadrants, while Atos, Fujitsu, Hexaware, LTI and Rackspace are named as leaders in one.