MSPs: Get Ready for the IoT Revolution

The Internet of Things (IoT) is new wave of small intelligent, IP-enabled devices and sensors moving into the home, enterprises, and industries of all sorts. Thus, it is transforming the IT landscape, presenting an untapped market for MSPs willing to invest in technology and become expert in this exploding trend.

According to research from IT analyst firm IDC and Intel, 200 billion IoT devices could be connected to the internet by 2020. That is about 26 devices per person. Meanwhile, research into IoT published by MarketsandMarkets foresees an IoT analytics market that will grow from $7.19 billion in revenue in 2017 to $27.78 billion by 2022. That is an impressive Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 31 percent.

MSPs and the IoT

A market of this size should not be ignored, and it is recommended MSPs pay attention to the IoT phenomenon. A wise approach would be to find a customer or two with IoT-related needs. Become accustomed to this emerging market and gain expertise in its various nuances. Allow staff to become familiar with how to price services and how to operate efficiently and profitably in this new market.

By dipping your toe in the IoT waters while continuing to maintain and expand current revenue streams, when the predicted IoT boom materializes, you will be in a strong position to capitalize on what is likely to be a major IT trend in the next decade.

As IoT traffic grows, this experience can be leveraged to offer IoT-based services on a wider scale. Eventually, it is likely to evolve into a core business with a healthy volume of recurring services.

However, that will happen only for those that begin their preparations now.

IoT and PSAs

The IoT represents such a dramatic shift that it is going to expose the deficiencies of aging systems. MSPs are likely to notice this initially in their professional services automation (PSA) solution suites, which are already struggling to cope with cloud-based IT. Many PSAs are approaching their end of life. These legacy products may have some basic software-as-a-service (SaaS) capabilities, but they were not built for the cloud as it has evolved today. Poor performance and aging interfaces make them difficult to operate.

Older PSAs can’t provide the level of functionality demanded by modern cloud-based businesses. The IoT is destined to completely overwhelm them. MSPs, therefore, are advised to invest in next-generation PSAs to satisfy their project management, service desk, time tracking, invoicing, resource planning, business intelligence, customer relationship management (CRM), and collaboration needs.

Next-generation PSAs are built from the ground up for the cloud. They have the flexibility, scalability, and speed needed to cope with the IoT. MSPs can harness next-generation PSAs to increase revenue through the smooth introduction of new IoT-enabled services.

Take the case of project management, a discipline that will become even more vital in the coming years. MSPs must be ready for the flood of sensors, devices, and endpoints soon to come their way. Next-generation PSAs offer project management features such as being able to launch IoT projects effortlessly and operate effectively regardless of the volume of sensors or devices involved. Staff will be able to view real-time project status reports and take advantage of analytics engines that can divine insight from mountains of data. Such capabilities will prove invaluable when it comes to forecasting the future infrastructure needs of clients.

Next-generation PSAs include sufficient asset management functionality to track this new volume of devices and sensors. But they must be supported by tight integration with remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools for rapid discovery of assets and IP addresses. Legacy PSAs performed an adequate job of discovering computers and routers on traditional networks. They do not cope well in cloud environments. In addition, with tens of billions of sensors out there to be discovered, MSPs need tools that will be able to detect them rapidly and monitor them efficiently. An RMM tightly integrated with a next-generation PSA means every sensor and device discovered will be automatically accessible in a PSA.

Another vital area of integration is the service desk. Monitoring of complex IoT networks must include the ability to tie assets to specific tickets. Issues detected in massively distributed networks must be analyzed in real time. Any problems found must lead to automatic ticket issuance. The flood of IoT traffic can be effectively dealt with only by tightly coupling RMM and PSA ticketing systems within a Service Desk to track and correlate issues automatically.

Read the full whitepaper to learn more about Why IoT is the Next Big Thing.

Posted by Doug Barney
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.

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