The MSP’s Survival Guide to Cloud Nationalism
We have written on the topic of cloud nationalism before, and as we march onward with the global integration and adoption of GDPR, we see exactly how broad of an impact it is having on both the global business community as well as managed service providers.
Cloud nationalism, or the idea that different countries can control their data by regulating their cloud environments, did not start with the United States. GDPR is, in many ways, an example of cloud nationalism being implemented. GDPR is the European Union's attempt to manage data belonging to its citizens a protect it. While the law may not be a well written or contemplated legislation, it is nevertheless rooted in a valid principle of data governance, data privacy, and data security. GDPR is also, in many respects, a response to the global dominance of United States public cloud companies.
The concept of data governance and protection is not new. Data governance is, you could say, integral to the core purpose of managed services. Throughout the years, MSPs have offered their services in order to help clients better manage their IT infrastructure, and ultimately their data. Today, data management is the ultimate objective behind most managed services engagements. Protecting client data is one of the most important outcomes from engaging an MSP.
Data Management IS Cloud Management
It is difficult to separate data management from cloud management. What does that mean? Post-2008, managing data has meant MSPs must also be familiar with and involved in a variety of cloud platforms. This is, of course, in stark contrast to pre-2008 practices where MSPs would predominantly work within "cloud" environments involving the client's own building (data center) or co-location facility.
Public cloud platforms necessarily involve working within environments with global (or at least multi-national) presence. It is the public cloud platforms which have drawn the attention and skepticism of legislators who are creating "cloud nationalistic" laws such a GDPR.
MSPs and Cloud Nationalism
I don't think cloud nationalism will go away anytime soon. So, what should MSPs do to prepare for the future? Preparation is key for MSPs. MSPs who do not look outside their local geography and pay attention to what is happening globally, will not be ready.
MSPAlliance has always made the comparison that MSPs have a lot in common with professional services, including medical. Like medical providers, MSPs need to be aware of what is happening outside their local town or areas of service delivery. This is part of the knowledge required to be a competent MSP today. Being a competent MSP means having knowledge of and being able to intelligently discuss cloud nationalism and have practical advice for clients. Having knowledge of the broader world is necessary because even the smallest of businesses now have widespread impact and contacts, including contacts within geographies where cloud nationalism may have a very real impact.
MSPs need to have multiple cloud options for customers to be competitive. The "glocalization" of cloud also means MSPs need a market strategy with more than just public cloud options for customers.
Cloud nationalism may not have been created in the United States but MSPs all over need to be aware of why it exists and how to survive. Make no mistake, it is possible for MSPs to not only survive the cloud nationalism movement but to also thrive in it. Being prepared, carefully thought out service offerings, and being well connected to the broader MSP community, are all essential characteristics for the successful MSP of the future.