The rapid expansion in data center resources offered by hyperscalers like AWS, Google, and Microsoft may leave many smaller MSPs and NSPs in the Pacific Rim wondering where they fit into the market. While leaders of these businesses may need to make some adjustments to their business models, edge computing is opening up a variety of new opportunities. In this post, we’ll cover six opportunities MSPs/NSPs may want to consider as they plot their future course.
A New Paradigm or a Slight Shift?
First, we have to acknowledge that no two MSPs/NSPs in the region have exactly the same business model. Even if their go-to-market strategies look similar on paper, the day-to-day realities of their business can look quite different based on the geographies they cover and the skill sets of their staff. In some cases, taking advantage of these opportunities will require MSPs/NSPs to augment their current skills. In other cases, new skills and technologies will need to be deployed.
#1 Build partnerships with the hyperscalers. Because their business model is one of wide geographic coverage rather than pinpoint edge solutions, many hyperscalers are actively recruiting partners who can help them provide solutions on the edge.
To help potential partners evaluate the business case, AWS contracted with Forrester to study the economic opportunity for what they call Next-Generation AWS Managed Service Providers. As reported in the study, Forrester found “total risk- and present value-adjusted gross profits of $37.9 million over three years versus risk- and present value-adjusted investment and overhead expenses of $15.5 million, adding up to a net present value (NPV) of $22.4 million and an ROI of 144%.”
#2 Leverage local. Competing against a hyperscaler with seemingly unlimited wherewithal and name recognition can make even the most successful regional MSP/NSP feel like a small player. Remember, your expertise in the region and your position on the edge means you’ve got something to bring to the table. Customers and hyperscalers alike need on-the-ground resources who understand the often complex local business and regulatory requirements in the Pacific Rim’s emerging economies.
#3 Form partnerships with other regional providers. If you’ve carved out a niche by focusing on a specific geography, you may find your potential customers don’t limit themselves to the same area. Your customer in Singapore, for example, may need edge computing resources in Malaysia, San Francisco, and Germany. Forming partnerships with other mid-tier, regional providers can help you tap into their local resources and expertise to offer a complete solution to your customers.
#4 Explore partnerships with edge technology providers. The IIoT is one of the driving factors behind edge computing. In fact, experts say that Asia is on track to become the largest IIoT market in the world. IDC predicted that the number of connected devices in APeJ (Asia Pacific excluding Japan) will grow from 3.1 billion devices in 2015 to 8.6 billion in 2020. These devices will account for almost a third of the world’s total.
Device providers often have deep expertise in topics such as shop floor automation and big data analysis, but they aren’t necessarily experts in IT infrastructure and related topics like disaster recovery and data security. Look for potential partnerships with IIoT technology providers, but be prepared to help them understand the unique requirements of the edge and why your local expertise and resources can help them be more successful.
#5 Sell your expertise. Many MSPs/NSPs focus heavily on the technology behind the services they provide. However, edge computing has made the cloud landscape more complex. Business leaders will need assistance in understanding how to configure edge computing data centers to maximize performance and security while keeping costs under control. They’ll also need assistance in understanding how to manage a Hybrid IT environment where IT resources are spread across public and private clouds as well as on-premises data centers.
MSPs/NSPs with the right levels of expertise will have more opportunities to act as a trusted advisor and add consulting services to their portfolio of service offerings. This may require some MSPs/NSPs to rethink how they engage with prospects and customers and the types of individuals they employ in their customer-facing roles.
#6 Consider offering new technologies. Micro data centers are one of the latest advancements in data center technologies, and without them, world-changing innovations like autonomous vehicles might not be possible. 451 Research included micro data centers in their list of “Ten Technologies That Might Change Data Centers Forever,” giving them a 3.75 out of 5 for their disruptive potential.
Micro data centers are pre-fabricated, self-contained data center units that provide all the components of a larger data center, IT components as well as facilities control such as cooling, fire suppression, UPS systems, etc. Because micro data centers come in all shapes and sizes, the use cases are almost unlimited.
For example, the smallest data centers will be essential for the autonomous vehicle revolution and may eventually be as ubiquitous as cell towers. Because micro data centers are self-contained, they are also ideal for harsh environments such as typhoon- or sandstorm-prone regions. Finally, just because they are called “micro” data centers does not mean they need to be small. The preconfigured, self-contained data centers of the future may be able to help businesses accelerate their entry into a market or help the people of a region come online faster.
The Future is What You Make of It
The evidence is pretty clear: The need for edge computing resources in the Pacific Rim will continue to grow.
According to the latest figures from the China Internet Network Information Center, 53.2% of China’s population has access to the Internet, almost 10% higher than in 2014. While impressive, emerging economies, like those in the rural regions of the PRC, still present a vast opportunity for service providers. As these economies come online, they will need local service providers who understand the cultural and technological needs of their unique and changing markets.
Mobile computing is another area in which the Pacific Rim leads the way. A recent study called “Digital in 2018” found Asia Pacific far outpaced every other geography in terms of quantity of mobile traffic. A whopping 4.12 billion gigabytes of mobile data is consumed monthly in the region as compared to only 1.83 billion gigabytes in North America, the second most active region. Like the IIoT, mobile devices are set to consume massive amounts of edge resources as people demand applications and access to information with minimal latency.
These are just the obvious examples. Other innovations, such as AR and IR, will change the world in ways many of us have never dreamed of. Effective implementation of these technologies will require responsive resources and MSPs/NSPs who understand the complexities of the region and the technology. The future belongs to the agile MSP/NSPs who keep their eyes open to the possibilities and can quickly adapt their business model to take advantage of them.