Why MSP's Hate Microsoft 365

Why MSPs hate Microsoft 365

Your organization has moved to Microsoft 365 or is planning to, and you need an MSP or have one already. You have little or no IT staff and you want an MSP to help with your IT devices and services from Microsoft. But you see that the MSPs need to use non-Microsoft agents and other services to manage your organization. This is confusing since you may have paid for a license from Microsoft that covers what the MSP needs for management.

You might have taken the full plunge into Microsoft cloud services with Defender for security, Entra for identity and governance, and Intune for device management (and more). Maybe you want to maintain your current setup but don’t need fully managed services and some occasional support. This is a dilemma for many organizations as it’s hard to find that exact level of support.

Traditional MSP models are delivered mostly through MSP specific third-party services. This includes areas such as Remote Monitoring & Management (RMM), Backups, etc.

While support tickets are a key ingredient here, it’s the lowest margin for an MSP and 100% people-driven. While the need to talk with a person for help is a must in any scenario, it’s not the key business driver for MSPs.

The traditional MSP business model is focused on recurring services with high margin services that are geared towards proactive maintenance, strategic consulting, and value-added services. By shifting the focus towards proactive monitoring, automation, and strategic consulting, MSPs can elevate their value proposition beyond just reactive support. Embracing technologies like AI-driven analytics, cloud services, and cybersecurity solutions allows MSPs to offer more value-added services that enhance client experience and increase profitability.

Traditional MSPs have spent years creating integrations of third-party MSP services and tools, educating their staff, and creating well-defined and pricing models. However, many MSPs have lagged in ensuring effective security measures and data management which has led to some very public and costly security breaches and data loss for themselves and their customers.

Moreover, customers are often stuck with the MSP and switching is hard as the policies and rules that govern your IT environment are set and locked into those MSP systems that you either can’t access or easily move into Microsoft cloud services or another MSP. And let’s not talk about password management for the MSP or “Service Accounts.”

Where Traditional MSP and Microsoft 365 Conflict & Overlap

In many cases, almost all traditional MSPs will manage your Entra ID (formerly Azure Active Directory) and cover the basics of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Teams, and maybe some of your existing Windows Server (that’s a bigger topic for another day). Even that level of management is often connected to a third-party service. That doesn’t make it bad, but it can be a concern.

Let’s review some common MSP services and third-party services that typically overlap with what’s available from Microsoft cloud services.

Vendor/ProductRMMEndpoint SecurityEndpoint ManagemenAudit & ComplianceBackups
Microsoft EntraXXX
Microsoft IntuneXXX
Microsoft Remote AccessX
Microsoft DefenderX
Microsoft 365 E5 ComplianceX
Microsoft BackupX
Microsoft ArchiveX

As you can see above, there is quite a bit of overlap between the vendors and certainly a duplication of services with Microsoft cloud services. If the overlap doesn’t bother you as the MSPs that use these services for your IT needs, then make sure to manage the overlap effectively.

Managing the overlap

Let’s say you’re fine with the overlap. Here is some guidance to ensure there isn’t a gap between them and getting the most from both.

  1. Gap Analysis: Conduct a comprehensive gap analysis to identify areas where the overlapping services may not fully align or where additional functionality is required. This analysis will help understand the gaps that must be addressed to optimize the use of both services.
  2. Partner Collaboration: Consider engaging with the vendors or relevant partners to gain insights into best practices for managing the gaps between overlapping services. Vendors may offer guidance or resources to support the effective integration and management of their services.
  3. Resource Augmentation: Evaluate the need to augment your resources or expertise to effectively manage the gaps between overlapping services. This may involve investing in training, hiring specialized talent, or engaging with external consultants with expertise in the specific areas of concern.
  4. Continuous Assessment and Updates: Establish a process for ongoing assessment and updates to ensure that any emerging gaps or evolving requirements are promptly identified and addressed. This may involve regular reviews, feedback loops, and staying abreast of updates from the vendors
  5. Prioritization and Alignment: Prioritize the gaps based on their impact on business operations and IT performance. Align the management of these gaps with the overall strategic objectives of the organization to ensure that resources are directed towards addressing the most critical areas first.
  6. Knowledge Transfer: Foster a culture of knowledge sharing and continuous learning within the MSP team to empower them to effectively manage the gaps between overlapping services. This may involve cross-training, knowledge transfer sessions, and creating a collaborative environment for problem-solving.

Determining what to manage in “the gaps” is where you should get continued assessments and updates. The traditional MSP often doesn’t have that level or resources and experience as they stay focused on what the products and services, they use daily. However, in the dynamic landscape of IT services, Agile IT Services, such as AgileNext and AgileMAX, offer a transformative approach to overcoming these challenges.

Agile methodologies focus on flexibility, ongoing enhancement, and customer satisfaction, offering a versatile approach for handling IT solutions. These services help you to adopt a culture of continual improvement, try out various methods, and adjust to shifting needs. By using Agile IT Services, MSPs can manage the challenges of interrelated services, improve performance, and foster constant advancement in IT solutions.

Don’t overlap and get the best from Microsoft cloud services

There are often many great reasons to “put all your eggs in one basket” that are Microsoft cloud services. Here are a few we hear frequently from customers:

  1. Vendor consolidation
  2. Reduce management and IT staff burden due to training and knowledge management
  3. Reduce conflict and confusion between multiple vendors during a support issue
  4. Reduce the cost and gaps in coverage when multiple vendors and integrations are updated

Short Answer: Simplification

Simple doesn’t always mean good, but in this case, it saves money and reduces risk.

All this is well and good, but you still have the need from another party to help meet your IT needs.

Modern Cloud Maintenance and Managed Services

Whether you want to make the most of what you’ve already licensed, or you’re interested in exploring more of Microsoft cloud services, there are two ways you can go about it.

Modern Cloud Maintenance

This approach involves the strategic management and upkeep of an organization’s existing cloud infrastructure to ensure optimal performance, security, and cost-efficiency. It focuses on maximizing the value of the cloud services that the organization has already licensed. Modern Cloud Maintenance encompasses activities such as:

  1. Assessment and Optimization: Conducting thorough assessments of the current cloud environment to identify areas for improvement and optimization. This may involve streamlining operations, enhancing performance, and reducing costs based on empirical data and hypotheses.

  2. Security and Compliance: Ensuring that the cloud infrastructure meets the organization’s security and compliance requirements. This includes implementing best practices for data protection, access control, and regulatory compliance.

  3. Scalability and Flexibility: Optimizing the cloud infrastructure to be scalable and flexible, allowing the organization to adapt to changing business needs and technological advancements.

Modern Cloud Managed Services

Modern Cloud Managed Services involve engaging with specialized cloud service providers to manage and enhance an organization’s cloud environment. This approach goes beyond the organization’s internal capabilities and resources, leveraging external expertise to drive continuous improvement and innovation. Key aspects of the approach include:

  1. Expert Guidance and Support: Engaging with experienced cloud service providers who offer expertise, best practices, and tailored solutions to ensure that organizations derive maximum value from their investments in Microsoft cloud services.
  2. Continuous Improvement: Embracing a mindset of continuous improvement and innovation, guided by the expertise of managed service providers. This involves ongoing optimization, proactive monitoring, and the implementation of best-in-class cloud management practices.
  3. Strategic Integration and Expansion: Collaborating with managed service providers to strategically integrate and expand Microsoft cloud services within the organization. This may involve identifying new use cases, integrating additional solutions, and expanding the utilization of existing services to encompass a broader range of business functionalities.

Both approaches are design ed to ensure that you can harness the full potential of your cloud investments, whether by optimizing existing infrastructure or by leveraging external expertise to drive continuous improvement and innovation in cloud services.

How can you tell if an MSP is a traditional MSP or Modern?

Differentiating between a traditional Managed Service Provider (MSP) and a modern MSP involves considering various factors, including their service models, pricing structures, and areas of expertise. Here’s how to distinguish between the two:

Service Model

Conventional MSPs usually work on a break-fix model, where they offer support and services whenever needed. This means that they are generally reactive, dealing with problems as they occur and charging for the time and resources spent to fix them.

In contrast, modern MSPs work off a fixed cost per agent, user, or similar, often utilizing a subscription-based service model. This approach emphasizes proactive maintenance, continuous monitoring, and ongoing support, aiming to prevent issues before they occur. The focus is on delivering consistent, high-quality service under a predictable cost structure, rather than solely reacting to problems as they arise.

Pricing Structure

Traditional MSPs may charge based on the time and resources spent on resolving specific issues, often leading to variable costs for their clients. This can result in unpredictable expenses and may not align with the client’s budgeting and financial planning.

Modern MSPs typically offer fixed pricing models, such as per-device or per-user pricing. This provides clients with predictable, consistent costs, regardless of the amount of work required within the scope of the agreement. It also allows clients to budget effectively and eliminates the uncertainty associated with variable costs.

Focus on Proactivity and Innovation

Traditional MSPs may mainly provide IT support and maintenance, with a more responsive way of solving problems when they occur. They may only manage and maintain the current infrastructure and systems.

Modern MSPs focus on proactive maintenance, ongoing improvement, and innovation. They also offer more services, such as strategic advice, process enhancement, and system integration. Moreover, they may have expertise in complex areas like cybersecurity, to meet the changing needs of businesses in a fast-paced technological world.

Accessibility and Information Management:

Traditional MSPs may use proprietary tools to manage and monitor infrastructure, potentially leading to limited accessibility to the organization’s information. This can create dependencies and potential challenges in data management and transparency.

Modern MSPs often emphasize open access to information and transparent management practices. They aim to provide accessible, real-time insights into the organization’s infrastructure and systems, enabling informed decision-making and collaboration.

Final Thoughts

The relationship between Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Microsoft 365 is multifaceted. Microsoft 365, with its comprehensive suite of tools, can significantly benefit businesses. However, it also poses challenges for MSPs, particularly due to the shift towards cloud-based services and the requirement for specialized knowledge. This can make it challenging for traditional MSPs to adapt.

Nevertheless, MSPs that embrace this change and evolve into Modern MSPs can discover substantial opportunities in this new landscape. They can offer valuable services to businesses, assisting them in navigating and fully utilizing the capabilities of Microsoft 365. The issue isn’t that MSPs inherently dislike Microsoft 365, but rather, they need to adjust their strategies and skill sets to flourish in this new environment.

If you’re seeking an MSP that has successfully transitioned and can help your business maximize the benefits of Microsoft 365, Agile IT is your go-to solution. Our team of experts is prepared to assist you with all your Microsoft 365 needs, from implementation to ongoing management. Don’t let the complexities of Microsoft 365 hinder your business growth. Contact Agile IT today and let us help you unlock the full potential of your Microsoft 365 subscription.

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