So What is a Managed Services Provider vs. Cloud Services Broker Really?

Category: Topics

The question all IT Executives and now Line of Business Managers are asking “Do I need an MSP or CSB or both…..or neither?”



Whether you are an IT Executive or Line of Business Manager at your enterprise…… Stop! Why do I say Line of Business Manager in this blog? Line of Business Managers (ie outside IT) are playing an ever increasing role in IT. According to Gartner over 50% of cloud is being purchased from outside IT ie CMO, CFO etc. and by 2020 90% of all IT spend will be outside IT – .  OK, I digress. The challenges we hear every day from both IT Executives and Line of Business Managers (other than their “hair on fire” day to day challenges) are “Why and with whom do I get help to understand cloud, how does it play with my on-prem technology managed by my Managed Services Provider, how do I transition and most of all how does all of this help my business?”. All great questions. First how did we get here?

The Managed Services Provider came about to address the need for a more cost-effective way to deliver break/fix for on-prem technology.  It also solved a problem for companies that did not have an IT Staff equipped to manage and monitor a network 24×7.  So along came the Managed Services Provider with their proactive remote management and monitoring and other IT services. Great model – a win-win for all involved and still a great model for the loads of on-prem technology. Industry pundits put the number at 10-15% of all on-prem technology being managed by a Managed Services Provider. So if you are an IT Executive (notice I didn’t say Line of Business Manager) needing proactive and cost-effecitve support for your on-prem technology the MSP makes a lot of sense. You know as well as I your on-prem technology isn’t all going to disappear into the cloud anytime soon. So what should the IT Executive be looking for in a Managed Services Provider? – of course technical competence but increasingly the IT Executive should be looking for expertise in helping transition to cloud with an emphasis on understanding helping their business goals and objectives.

We are now all hearing about the Cloud Services Broker or the Cloud Services Provider, in my opinion all the same. Back to Gartner for a second, they predict the Cloud Services Broker model to be a $141b market by 2017! And what exactly is a Cloud Services Broker? Of course Gartner has their definitions –  There are “tons” of cloud offerings in the market – every flavor of SaaS, IaaS, CaaS, PaaS, UCaaS etc., let’s just say XaaS.  The Cloud Services Broker selects and delivers multiple XaaS, bundles them together, adds their own “value add” and bundles those services into cloud solutions focused on delivering “business value” – yes here is where the Line of Business Managers are playing a major role. Line of Business Managers are proactively searching for any way to help achieve their business goals and cloud is playing a major role in helping them. As an IT Executive or Line of Business Manager what should “you” look for in a Cloud Services Broker?  What you should be looking for isn’t radically different than what you should be looking for in a Managed Services provider – yes you need technical competence. But I place a significant emphasis on the ability for your Cloud Services Broker to “speak business” – truly understand your business goals, objectives, challenges and design and deliver bundles cloud “solutions” that deliver true business value.

Lastly, do you need a Managed Services Provider, Cloud Services Broker or both? Depends on your business, but we see both the Managed Services Provider and Cloud Services Broker models offering tremendous value to customers.