2016: Cloud & Managed Services Year in Review
Wow, what a year. In several decades I have never experienced a year like 2016 where so much happened of significance to the managed services profession. It was a bizarre year on many fronts, with a unique political campaign and several global movements all having the potential of impacting MSPs in real and significant ways. Here is a short list of the highlights from 2016.
Despite 2016 experiencing global political uncertainty on many fronts, largely due to a series of national elections and referenda, IT spending remained relatively strong. 2016 saw global IT spending of just over $3.3 billion. This was a slight decline from 2015, which saw a significant disruption in global markets, largely due to the value increase of the US dollar.
IT Services (where cloud and managed services) during 2016 was right at $900 billion, representing a relatively strong 3.9% growth from 2015. In all, MSPs had a good year financially, with end-user demand and spending remaining strong compared to the previous year.
Brexit & GDPR
If you are a MSP in the United States, you may not have paid much attention to the UK's decision to depart from the European Union (Brexit) or the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe. Both of these events hold a lot of valuable information for how governments and private sector will approach data privacy and security, let alone how to govern this thing we call cloud computing.
While the future of GDPR and Brexit may still be in doubt, MSPs conducting business within the EU face a real amount of uncertainty until things settle down in Europe.
US Election & Email Scandal
For US based MSPs, the country's political election cycle was curious indeed. Separating the politics from this, the email scandal and general IT security issues which were a recurring theme throughout this election was both unusual and unprecedented.
While we have not had a thorough examination of the IT issues raised during the election, there is a lot of legitimate debate about how MSPs should treat similar issues in the future. Issues such as orders to preserve customer data, orders by customers to delete data, etc. My suspicion is that we will be discussing this election and its IT related themes for years to come.
Data Security & Privacy Breaches
Whether it was the US election, or the numerous other data breaches disclosed this year, 2016 saw a large number of cyber breaches, both in scope of data lost and in the types of targets selected.
We have left the era of cyber threats being viewed as only existing for larger, more noteworthy targets. Today, cyber security is something every organization (and individual) must be aware of in order to participate safely in our society. Ransomware is proof of the indiscriminate nature of cyber threats today. Cyber criminals no longer need only high profile targets to succeed. There are plenty of financially lucrative ways to exploit everyday citizens throughout the world; all you need is an email or a phone.
2016 was a year largely waiting for the US (and other global referenda) political cycle to resolve itself. Now that the election is over, the MSP community has a new year to look forward to, along with plenty of challenges, but also a lot of new opportunity. I'm excited for 2017.