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A Rose by Any Other Name Is … Not the Cloud or Managed Services. These two fast growing business models are frequently used interchangeably. They shouldn’t be.

The Cloud – In its simplest form, the Cloud is a variation of the owning vs leasing business model. It’s a matter of where an application, storage, or other IT infrastructure resides versus how it’s being managed (accessibility, updates, changes, etc.). The Cloud changes access from in-house to a private or public location that can be remotely accessed. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS0,  andSoftware as a Service (SaaS) are names of Cloud Services.

The key value of the Cloud is anytime-anywhere accessibility, flexibility to add and remove users, and a predictable month-to-month expense.

Managed Services – In its simplest form, Managed Services is the managing of the accessibility of an application, network, data center, etc.typically owned by the client. It’s literally the outsourcing of the monitoring, management and support of technology infrastructure components. You can have your applications in-house, but have Managed Services for your network or data center.

The key value of Managed Services is that IT resources normally tied up in mundane day-to-day management tasks can add more strategic value to the company, staffing and training costs decrease, and management coverage usually increases (from 5×8 to 7×24).

Managed Services Providers (MSPs) – The short version: these are the companies who have expertise in managing the IT infrastructure and applications. Billing is through a subscription model, not an annual contract. The MSP has a Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place to ensure expectations are et and commitments are met.

The Confusion – There are several reasons there’s confusion around the Cloud and Managed Services. Here’s my list.

  1. Cloud providers also have Service Level Agreements and other  business model similarities to Managed Services.
  2. Media and market research firms don’t always separate Cloud from Managed Services in their blogs and articles.
  3. The MSP billing model is just like the Cloud billing model. Both are subscription based.

Feel free to add to this list!

Summary – Let’s stop the confusion. Yes, the line can be blurry at times, especially when Managed Service Providers start moving more into providing storage, applications and other technology infrastructure as a service. That’s a big investment and players like Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace, Cisco and other big names are well-entrenched.

For now, when monitoring and management of an IT infrastructure component owned by the client is proposed, that’s Managed Services. When a client is outsourcing an entire component (software, application, storage, etc.), that’s Cloud Services.

Anyone have anything to add?