Is 2019 the Year You Move Your Clients to the Cloud?

December 31st, 2018
Tony Cai
Tony CaiPartner Sales Executive

Now is the time to plan for all your 2019 MSP practice business objectives. Part of that planning should involve meeting with clients to review their immediate and long-term IT strategies. And, once you know what these clients need, it’s time to find out what their IT budgets look like.

Clients might be coming up for a hardware refresh, or they may be at the exact right stage to move their environments to the cloud. Whatever their needs, it’s crucial for your practice to help clients make the best choices for their specific needs and IT budget dollars.

Whether it’s a desktop refresh or a new server, a common dilemma will be whether to quote a cloud-based system and all that entails, or to go the more traditional hardware on-premises route. This is the point where you should gather the over-arching data that supports the longer-term benefits of moving to the cloud.

Prep a Side-by-Side Comparison

“Moving to the cloud” is a vague term that likely your customers don’t fully understand. Until now, it mostly meant replacing on-prem applications with SaaS-based equivalents. For example, an Exchange server migrating to Office 365. It’s up to you and your team to spell out every single detail, benefit, and advantage.

As part of meetings with clients, you’ll need to prepare a detailed comparison of cloud expenses versus on-prem costs. Be sure to gather corroborating data, as you’ll certainly encounter a business owner with a “this-is-really-going-to-cost-me-a-lot” mentality.

When you gather cloud costs, also get the same equivalent quote for on-prem equipment. But be sure to note which expenses are CapEx versus OpEx, expenses for storage, cooling, and all other operational costs to show a true apples-to-apples comparison, line by line.

budget for expenses

Winning the Cloud Business

So, you do your homework, your client is pleased, and decides that moving to the cloud is the way to go. Great! Then, you’ll need to use tools like the Nerdio Plans Designer and Cost Estimator to develop a neatly packaged, clearly priced monthly budget to have your client’s entire infrastructure hosted in Microsoft Azure.

Now comes the time that you need to do a sales job for the second phase of the project: selling your clients on the move to Azure. Let’s say your customer will try to compare the cost and labor of your on-prem proposal with your Azure-based proposal. They will invariably realize that the Azure proposal will cost a few bucks more per month over three years.

How do you win that argument? Well, you need to once again do a correct and complete comparison of IT infrastructures. In this case, it won’t be enough to just compare apples to apples. While its true that we’re comparing bare metal to an IaaS model – the physical obvious difference is there — the key elements here are about the scalability, flexibility, and long-term capabilities an environment in Azure will provide.

With an on-prem server, your client must pay upfront for the licensing, server, memory, disks, and the config it ships with. Assume the network and environment that server sits on are the best that the client can afford right now. Backup is likely a separate hardware appliance outside of the physical server with a monthly fee tied to it for offsite backup and disaster recovery.

You are also helping them get network security that is the latest and greatest money can buy. The scalability, flexibility, and the capabilities of their on-prem environment are limited to their budget. Their network and servers can only flex and scale so much before they reach maximum capabilities.

The Proof Is in the Long-Term Usage

IaaS in the cloud, on the other hand, offers almost unlimited scalability, flexibility, and an ever-growing list of capabilities. Giving your clients the vast resources available in the cloud lets them scale and flex like never before. Being on the public cloud gives them the enterprise-level security they simply just could not buy on their own. Having the expansive list of regions available to them takes their DR capabilities to a new level.

It becomes not a discussion around hardware or what the cost is to your customer today, but more about aligning your customers with the strategic advantages that the public cloud offers.

strategic planning

The advantages are clear: lower cost of storage, backup and DR, scaling their business without an upfront capital cost, the availability of hundreds of VM sizes to choose from, and the ever-expansive list of new services and R&D going into the public cloud.

How that translates down to your customer is by you implementing a solution that allows business desktops and apps to be accessible from any location from any device, being able to control data more strictly, not needing to consider big ticket IT purchases (servers or desktop refreshes) anymore, and creating a very predictable monthly IT budget, which is both great for the customer and your on-going business with them.

Research the Details

The next time a customer challenges you on proposing IaaS over an on-prem server, just for fun, quote them a hyper-converged system setup in HA mode, multiple SANs, at least 2 gigabit fiber lines, a rack located in a co-location site with hardware there as well, 40Gbe network backbone and a firewall setup in HA on premises, and at the co-location.

That would be closer to comparing apples to apples, otherwise you’re comparing an apple to a supermarket (vast and abundance of fruits) of public cloud services.