The managed services marketing and cloud services markets are growing at the speed of light. Analyst company marketsandmarkets expects the MSP market to grow at a yearly CAGR of 9.3% and reach $282Bn in size by 2023.
When Googling for the top MSP challenges, you’ll find many, many hits. I tried to filter out the vendor specific angles in most of these studies and surveys, they come down to:
- Sign-up new customers: where a lot of MSP initially grew from referral, this is not enough. Finding lead generation and customer acquisition mechanisms that are cost effective is key to growth (and survival);
- Keep margins under control: with increases in scale, commoditization of cloud services (thing Microsoft Office 365), margins for MSP’s are under pressure;
- Marketing & positioning: when growing in scale, MSP’s need to differentiate themselves. The ‘me-too’ position from the old days doesn’t work anymore;
- Technology choices: MSP services are built on technology. So obviously searching the right solutions & vendors is key to success; it drives costs (e.g. license costs, required infrastructure, # support calls needed, …) and revenue opportunity (e.g. perceived customer value, willingness to pay) as well as ability to differentiate and agility;
- Contract & pricing models: with the rise of cloud services come new pricing models. According to CompTIA, use-based and device-based pricing are more important, while ‘the Cloud’ is pushing consumption-based pricing. MSP’s must follow, and, must be setup to offer these ‘new’ pricing models in an efficient way.
- Security: businesses are increasingly aware of IT Security challenges and compliancy. As it is high on the end-customers list, it’s equally so the for the MSP;
- Finding and keeping (key) resources: this is obviously not a challenge specific to the MSP market; yet with shortage in talented engineers, technical sales, … this is high on a lot of MSP’s agenda;
- Uptime & scalability: as MSPs (need to) grow, they increasingly face scalability issues. Start small and grow from there. It’s a good motto but doesn’t apply to the MSP business. Technology choices must be made thoroughly, and a strong technology strategy must be in place from day one;
How can M/CSPs leverage Awingu?
Awingu is a Unified Workspace solution. It’s an alternative to classic VDI solutions. End-users simply access their workspace – including legacy Windows, Linux applications and full desktops, file shares, … – via a browser.
The access runs in a fully secured context, and there is nothing to install on the end-user device. As such, it offers full mobility without any device lock-in. From an architecture perspective, Awingu is delivered under the form of a Linux based Virtual Appliance. It’s installed as a gateway on top of a classic back-end: Active Directory, external IdP, RDP based app servers & full desktops, web applications and file servers. The architecture is easy to setup and maintain, it’s scalable and cost-efficient. Read more about the Awingu architecture here.
Awingu workspace view
Awingu was built with the M/CSP in mind:
- Multi-tenant – each tenant can connect with a different AD or even multiple AD’s;
- One Login – full Single Sign-On is possible, external IdPs are supported
- Runs in your cloud of choice
- Can be branded (to the M/CSP and/or end-customer)
- Blends SaaS and Legacy in one experience (e.g. Office 365 or GSuite)
- No local device hassle: full HTML5
- Built-in suite of security & compliance features
- Open API
- Leverages standard technologies (and existing investments)
When it comes the deployment models, we see the following 2 emerge: an ‘Awingu-as-a-Service’ and a full ‘Workspace-as-a-Service’. Both models can obviously be blended and mixed. Conceptually, it helps to think of two separate models, however.
Awingu deployment models for M/CSPs
Let’s have a closer look into the typical (simplified) architecture of the first model.
Set up Awingu’s Virtual Appliance with multiple tenants. Each tenant…
- Connects to the back-end of a unique customer in a remote datacenter (VPN needed between the on-prem datacenter and the hosted Awingu platform)
- Connects to a unique AD (and/or external IdP)
- Can be branded
- Can have specific security rules (e.g. MFA)
End-users log in via the browser and get HTML5 access to their published apps, desktops & file shares. This means there is no management required of the end-user devices. Interesting: Awingu’s usage audit and/or Open API can be used to trigger billing.
The simplicity of the model, both in initial setup, as in the addition of new customers is what makes this attractive for a lot of MSPs.
Especially M/CSPs that have existing or prospect customers with native RDP based platforms have an easy up-sell path.
Cost elements (and indication of pricing) are shown in below table – note that these are just elements and you’ll need to complete them with your own cost structure and apply your own desired margin.
High-level and indicative cost elements and pricing model for Awingu-as-a-Service
Note: 1 Awingu VM (8vCPU – 8Gb) can process up to 500 concurrent application sessions (max)
So who is the typical target market and end-customer behind Awingu-as-a-Service?
- Small businesses (typically 1-100 users) with a Small Business Server and RDP active
- User group roll-outs in mid-sized businesses; e.g. sales, finance, contractors,…
- Pilot deployments before full outsourcing or full on-prem Awingu deployment
Benefits for the end customer:
- small (opex) cost vs. investment
- no skills needed in-house
- Secure access (MFA, SSL, …)
- Easy end-user access
Technically, you’re not using a different Awingu product to build a ‘Workspace-as-a-Service’. And that’s the beauty of it. The architecture is equally simple, but here the full infrastructure is hosted (and managed) by the M/CSP.
Similar to the Awingu-as-a-Service architecture, the access to the Awingu virtual appliance is shared between end-customers. Each customer will typically get its own tenant which…
- Connects to the back-end of a unique customer (note: Apps/desktops running in the backend can be shared across tenants to optimize costs if desired – this setup is independent of Awingu)
- Connects to a unique AD (and/or external IdP) (shared AD is also possible)
- Can be branded to the end-customers
- Can have specific security rules (e.g. MFA)
- Can connects in Single Sign-On to own set of SaaS services
End-users log in via the browser and get HTML5 access to their published apps, desktops & file shares and thus no management required of the end-user devices. Awingu’s usage audit and/op Open API can be used to trigger billing.
M/CSPs can decide to use Awingu as the main portal of entry, but, they can also integrate Awingu into other portals. Have a look at how Awingu direct links work here.
Cost elements (and indication of pricing) are shown in below table – again, note that these are just elements and you’ll need to complete them with your own cost structure and apply your own desired margin.
High-level and indicative cost elements and pricing model for Awingu based Workspace-as-a-Service
Note: 1 Awingu VM (8vCPU – 8Gb) can process up to 500 concurrent application sessions (max). For more concurrent sessions/users, just add more Awingu Virtual Appliances.
Workspace-as-a-Service models are often provided as part of an integrated outsourcing and transformation project
In this model, the M/CSP takes a full outsourcing of the end-customer’s workspace and infrastructure. Even more, typically this is part of a full IT outsourcing project. Typical target markets and end-customers are 0-250 user SMBs. Sometimes these are offered in a ‘one-size-fits-all’, sometimes in a tailored approach.
The benefits to the end-customer include:
- No hassle: full outsourcing, no skills needed in-house, use on any device
- Secure access (MFA, SSL, …)
- Easy on/off-boarding of new users (e.g. seasonal workers)
- leverage inexpensive hardware (e.g. Chromebooks) and/or enforce a BYOD policy
Awingu can help M/CSPs in their challenges. There is not one single route to success, so far is clear. If we go back to the challenges in the beginning of the article:
- Sign-up new customers: with Awingu, you’ll have a very easy demo, pre-sales and trial platform for customers. The Awingu-as-a-Service model furthermore enables an relative inexpensive upsell to businesses doing RDP (existing and new customers).
- Keep margins under control: you are in control of you pricing and cost structures. Our pricing is pretty attractive also ☺ Margins of 30% and more should be the default.
- Marketing & positioning: Built your own flavors and offers in an easy way. Awingu is an enabler, not the final product. Maybe your Workplace-as-a-Service offering for example comes with a default ERP, or maybe you provide flexible SLA’s, …
- Technology choices: don’t be in a vendor lock-in that dictates your ways. With Awingu, you are in control. Your Cloud of choice, you endpoint of choice, etc
- Security: Awingu was built with security in mind; a lot of must-have features are built-in and come with the package (MFA, SSL, granular controls, Auditing, …)
- Finding and keeping (key) resources: clearly, Awingu can’t help here. But… as Awingu really is simple to operate, adding new technical people on the team won’t require extensive and expensive trainings specific to Awingu. They will be up-and-running in no time.
- Uptime & Scalability: start small with one single Virtual Machine and easily scale from there. Awingu has it’s own load balancing tools etc built-in to facilitate scaling.
In this blog post we have just scratched the surface. The options are vast and a lot of M/CSPs have shown to be very creative. Reach out to us to discuss how what we can mean for your business, or give Awingu a try!