Making sure your MSP can meet the scalability challenge
MSPs at Scale
For MSPs to grow their business, they need to be able to scale. Scaling doesn’t just mean growing. While scaling can mean growing so that you can can handle more clients, it can equally mean knowing how to contract when business is slow. But while this wisdom might seem obvious, actual implementation is a bit more challenging.
The goal of this blog is to highlight some of the challenges of scaling as well as some potential solutions.
MSP Scalability Challenges
The challenge of scaling is that it is difficult to do. While MSPs might be able to invest in new infrastructure such as servers or equipment, both take time and money. Moreover, once purchased, you cannot really return them during lean times. In economics, these are referred to as fixed costs because they are costs you have to shoulder no matter how many clients you have.
While technologies like AWS and Azure do offer the potential ability to scale your storage, these are expensive options. As such, many MSPs choose to lease their storage or have a mix of on premise and leased servers. Again though, these can still present the challenge of fixed costs.
A number of articles in the press have done a good job at highlighting fixed costs when they describe the costs associated with:
- Personnel: Humans are hard to modify. You cannot simply hire and fire at whim … at least you cannot if you don’t want to hurt your bottom line and employee morale. This rings of the old adage: hire slow fire fast.
- Outsourcing: Outsourcing of services like computer security and NOC teams can also be a challenging fixed cost because even if they are paid based on the number of instances they monitor, they still have a fixed cost for working for you.
At the same time, finding new employees when your business grows is equally challenging. Quality is hard to find and it takes time as well as resources. You cannot simply throw money at the problem and expect to find a good solution.
MSP Scalability Solutions
In spite of these challenges of fixed costs there are MSPs that do find ways to grow their MSP and scale successfully. One of the key insights that these MSPs come to is that humans are expensive. This was reiterated by George Bardissi, CEO at BVoiP, in a recent conversation where he noted that:
MSPs [should] automate as many of the technical monitoring and management processes as they can in order to keep human intervention on basic tasks to a minimum. This in turn contains costs as well as expanding capacity to handle larger volumes of customers.
According to this thinking, expensive humans need to focus on items which really require the experience and intuition of an engineer. Technology and software should be solutions for techniques that can be automated.
Automation is a key component of scalability. Some key areas where automation can help in scalability are:
- Provisioning: While products like AWS might be expensive as you scale your business, there are plenty of less expensive options that allow you to scale your storage resources more economically. It is important to seek these out.
- Monitoring: Rather than have humans focused on monitoring network traffic and potential intrusions, use monitoring platforms that can easily scale to handle more (or fewer) customers.
- Alerting: As your business grows, you need to highlight your MSP’s availability and responsiveness to issues effecting your customers. Whether this responsiveness is in reaction to an anomaly picked up by monitoring or to a customer emergency, a product like OnPage provides significant leverage to the MSP. OnPage allows MSPs to automate alerts from monitoring tools. OnPage also provides a dedicated line whereby customers can call and alert you via OnPage in the case of an emergency.
While the challenges of scalability are difficult, they can be overcome. Key to an MSP’s success in this arena is learning how to embrace the technologies that can match the cadence of the business.
Want to learn more about how to scale and grow your MSP? Download our whitepaper The MSP’s Guide To Maximizing Revenue for further tips.