The importance of cloud certification for a next-gen MSP

11 August 2020

More and more organizations are considering running parts of, or even their entire infrastructure of applications and processes in the (public) cloud. As a result, they face a dynamic, more complex environment, over which they need a firmer grip and more control. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can play a vital role in transitioning to the public cloud. However, to remain relevant in the future, it’s important for MSPs to develop themselves and acquire new skills. Certifications from cloud providers like Azure or AWS are therefore an indispensable part of a future-proof MSP’s portfolio.

The role of a next-gen MSP

To become a successful next-gen MSP it’s important to invest in skills, from DevOps to application performance knowledge. An MSP must develop knowledge in a way that lets them deliver digital solutions designed for the cloud, while helping customers to become more adaptable, stimulate innovation and improve business performance. The MSP is a loyal advisor to clients on the right strategy. They will also be an expert on the solutions they come up with, such as those of AWS or Azure.

A future-proof MSP is an expert on using cloud infrastructure and technology to manage the full lifecycle of services and applications. This includes designing, building and running mission-critical workloads on hyperscalers like AWS and Azure. In recognition of the need for next-gen partners, these hyperscalers have developed dedicated MSP programs, such as AWS MSP or Azure Expert MSP.

You can’t become an AWS MSP or Azure Expert MSP overnight. MSP programs require a lot of effort and an MSP must do their utmost to earn a certificate. Often, MSP's will hold a certificate for one of the programs, but hardly any will be certified for both.

The AWS and Azure programs

Both programs focus on automation and embracing DevOps. Within these programs, MSPs tackle different questions such as: how are managed CI/CD pipelines accomplished? What processes are used for software releases and deployments, at workload and application levels, but also at the cloud infrastructure level? In addition, the manner in which MSPs ensure that code and applications continue to work is examined, as well as how update strategies are supported.

Within the programs, all these requirements form knockout criteria, and information relevant to them must be supported by evidence. As an example, documented release management processes should include tooling and show how releases are managed. The possibility to reverse changes must also be demonstrated.

However, there are also differences between the two programs. The AWS program delves deeper into the technical aspects of cloud processes, while Microsoft Azure focuses more on the business side.

A true next-gen MSP

Although few MSPs have succeeded thus far, it is possible to obtain a certificate for both programs. MSPs who develop expertise in both AWS and Azure can continuously improve the next-gen service, using the latest and best technologies. By focusing on security and automation, while capitalizing on the differences between both programs, any ‘still traditional’ MSP can be in a unique position to offer top-quality next-gen Managed Services.


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