Migrating workflows to the cloud have jumped to the front of business’ priority lists in 2020. IDG’s 2020 Cloud Computing Survey found that 92 percent of organizations’ IT environments are at least partially cloud-based, and 32 percent of IT budgets for the next 12 months is set aside for cloud computing. According to Gartner, Platform as a Service (PaaS) will be a big contributor to overall cloud growth, predicting that the market for cloud platforms that encompass development and deployment environments will double in size from 2018 to 2022.
Dirk Arends, President of Virtual Systems, a cloud solutions and IT strategy firm based on Grand Rapids, Michigan, says value-added resellers (VARs) and managed services providers (MSPs) can find opportunities to sell PaaS in any market, especially among businesses looking to solve issues related to remote work or to reduce their on-premises footprint. Arends says organizations open to PaaS solutions include larger businesses that don’t want to spend time managing the hardware lifecycle or data center workloads. VARs and MSPs may also be able to capitalize on the demand for PaaS from businesses with small IT teams — or no in-house IT. “In those cases,” says Arends, “they want a partner to manage hardware and software services.”
Growing Revenue Through PaaS
Providing PaaS not only benefits your clients by lessening their workloads related to managing hardware, data center infrastructure and physical networking. It can also have benefits for your business. Arends says you can expand a monthly PaaS subscription with additional services. “Just as when you sell hardware, you can build your own software right into the PaaS stack so the solution is monitored, updated, and protected by the MSP,” Arends says. “Software installation services, migration and other projects, as well as network configurations/updates, would all continue to happen as they normally would but they’re happening on PaaS hardware instead of hardware located in the customer’s building.”
Additionally, VARs and MSPs can bundle PaaS virtual machines (VMs) with managed services offerings like antivirus, security, or helpdesk to grow revenues and build a stickier relationship with your clients.
Helping your clients move workloads to the cloud takes knowledge and expertise, and Arends recommends, at a minimum, that VARs and MSPs familiarize themselves with the PaaS offerings in their portfolios so that they can answer questions on topics such as storage, CPU architecture, and hypervisor capabilities.
He adds that, depending on the PaaS solutions you’re selling, you may want to pursue training and certifications on building architecture, for example, when providing AWS or Azure.
“Some cloud partners like Virtual Systems, GreenCloud, and INAP have cloud experts in-house who help you build your solutions so less knowledge is required for the MSP or VAR,” Arends says. “Usually, the trickiest part is understanding the pricing models and how to consistently predict costs over time,” he says.
The decision to partner, however, also takes some careful consideration. “Vet out the pricing models, decide where you need your margins to be and then make sure the market will bear that price,” he advises.
The Demand for PaaS in 2021 and Beyond
With the steady rise in cloud adoption, VARs and MSPs may be concerned that it’s too late to begin offering PaaS; however, Arends points out that’s not the case. “We’re still on the front end of the adoption cycle for PaaS. The mid-market space and especially the SMB space is lagging in cloud adoption because cloud options and pricing models continue to cause confusion for business,” he says.
Arends adds, “Migrations back to on-premises infrastructure by customers who had a bad ‘cloud experience’ is also not uncommon, so there is plenty of opportunity here for the foreseeable future.”