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Managed Services Can Help Agencies Move to the Cloud

TechSource Editor

We recently had a chance to sit down with several members of Iron Bow’s team to discuss the role of managed services in the transition to the cloud. Jim Smid, CTO; Pat Rainville, Director of Cloud & Managed Services Sales, Commercial and Chris Sibold, Director of Cloud & Managed Services Sales, Federal, shared insights about the move to the cloud and managed services.

Cloud-as-a-service, network-as-a-service, voice and video moving to the cloud and the proliferation of mobile devices—these trends are among the many shifts in the managed services space, and are being further enforced by the commercialization of IT. As people are using more technology in their personal lives—mobile devices, video calling apps like Skype and FaceTime and cloud file storage like Box and Dropbox—they expect the same functionality and ease of use in the workplace. Supporting these technology shifts presents challenges to traditionally-trained IT staff who may not have the skills necessary to keep up with today’s rapidly changing technology and this shift towards as-a-service offerings.

Managed services are allowing agencies of all sizes and across all sectors to enjoy benefits previously available only to the largest companies who could afford to invest in expensive hardware. Jim Smid presents as-a-service video as an example. The entry cost for video technology used to be very high. Now, with as-a-service and pay-as-you-go video options, organizations of all sizes can enjoy a high-quality video experience that is cost effective, and that offers users the same experience they enjoy in their private lives via various mobile devices.

Agencies in both the private and public sectors are already experiencing many benefits from moving to the cloud. Pat Rainville points to the immediate cost savings in operational and capital expenditures. The cost benefits will only grow as cloud offerings mature and continue to address specific needs of both the federal government and private industry. As benefits of moving to the cloud continue to mount, agencies are realizing that outsourcing IT and technology services lets those agencies continue to focus on their missions rather than diverting resources and continually investing in human capital to navigate the cloud and other managed services.

Human capital is another way that managed services can help agencies as they move to the cloud. Human resources can be a major bottleneck to traditional infrastructure, especially when it comes to both retraining existing staff and replacing staff who leave. As organizations lose IT resources, they’re having trouble finding and hiring qualified candidates without losing time, especially in today’s rapidly changing IT environment.

This obstacle is especially prevalent in the federal space, as the government workforce approaches a huge bubble of new retirees in the next few years. Managed services helps mitigate this coming risk, ensuring that seasoned experts are poised to take over when existing staff retire or leave. Especially in the ever-evolving cloud space, seasoned experts can help organizations look at all offerings in cloud space and decide the right mix of services to use.

Another benefit of managed services, as Chris Sibold points out, is speed to market with new application development. Procurement takes time—time that results in delays to market as developers are forced to wait on a laborious procurement process. With as-a-service, agencies have the ability to procure platforms, software and infrastructure as-a-service so they are immediately available to developers, allowing much faster application deployment. Everyone, from developers to customers to end users, benefits from this increase in speed.

What does the future hold when it comes to the cloud? According to Jim, we can expect continually more diverse cloud players catering to niche products. There won’t be just the large cloud players—there will be clouds for specific services and allocations. A managed services model will be needed to be able to transform today’s IT shops into internal service brokerages using just the right mix of cloud technologies to address an organizations different technology needs. This will be not only a technology shift but an HR shift as well—network engineers will need a different skillset with a mix of coding and traditional IT skills. Speed will be more important than ever when it comes to knowing which cloud products to use for specific use cases, which will be a major transition for public sector.

The bottom line: Having trusted advisors on whom to rely during these times of rapidly-changing technologies is a must, and managed services can help fill that role for agencies of all sizes.

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