Peter Kujawa CEO of Locknet, Steve Tallent from Fortinet, and I were speaking at the recent MSPWorld Conference in San Jose, California about the cloud revolution. Steve was interested in the conversation because Fortinet is now offering virtualized versions of their Fortigate UTM solution. Peter was interested because his business is built on taking the pain away that platform management entails. Obviously security intersects both of these worlds.

We discussed the changes cloud computing was making to the MSP/MSSP markets and the differences between the SMB and enterprise businesses and what motivates them to consider the cloud IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS model.

Peter talked about one of his clients – a smaller client – that managed their business from a small server stashed in the closet of their offices. Peter’s company offered to replace the box with a cloud-based system that took over patching, updates, and maintenance for the system for a simple monthly fee. The client would access their applications via the Internet.  The risk to this business was huge for so many reasons. The customer leapt at the chance to get rid of the box.

In another case, I was speaking with a large client and we talked about the motivation for the cloud. Inasmuch as maintenance and support are an issue, the larger issues for large companies are the IT assets on the balance sheet. This company liked cloud because of their need to “clean up” the balance sheet. There were too many IT assets loading down the balance sheet – distorting the company's return on assets.

The net here is that regardless of the motivation – operational or financial – companies don’t want to own boxes anymore. Even if customers don’t buy into elastically priced cloud computing, they do buy into outsourced support and maintenance.  Cloud technology, by lowering costs and the barriers of entry, allows even the smallest companies to benefit from managed services.  The payoff for large companies are just as real.

This has profound implications for the MSP and MSSP vendor space. I have already written about cloud disruption in the security space – Security's Cloud Revolution Is Upon Us – Understanding Information Security Amid Major Cloud Disruption.  The shift is real, and the service offerings of all service providers need to consider these new realities. Getting rid of the box is a huge opportunity for end user companies and service providers alike. So are you ready to get rid of the box?