This is the sixth installment in a new series on the BitTitan blog, “The Complete MSP,” built to help IT professionals stay ahead of the Azure curve and accelerate the evolution of your customers’ solutions. In previous posts, we covered the growing professional and managed services opportunity around Azure (“Blue Gold: The Azure Gold Rush and How to Cash In”) as well as best security practices (“Azure Security: Five Planning Tips For New Environments“). See all posts in the series here.
For those of you working to become wizards of Azure cloud management, here’s your magic wand. With it, not only will you see your skills and your career hit their “hockey-stick” moment, but if you’re in the business of providing Azure managed services to clients, this will help you redefine your business and prepare it for the future.
Behold the Mighty Runbook
Runbooks are not a new concept, but Azure redefines them.
In the earliest days of networked computing, runbooks were created on paper in a three-ring binder, used to document literally everything one would need to know when solving problems or upgrading the network. Every IP address, every parameter setting, locations of key files, you name it. Everything was documented. This preserved knowledge about the network, so it wouldn’t be lost with the departure of a particular engineer.
In the Microsoft Azure environment, the runbook does much more. It solves major problems and bestows you with the scalability you require as your use of Azure grows.
The Major Problem
There are things you need to do frequently to design, deploy, and manage Azure. Some need to be done daily. Most are prone to errors. All are time-consuming. Think also about process orchestration, the configuration of various Azure elements, the accompanying updates, and user management such as adjusting role-based access control. The list goes on.
If you stop to think about it, many of these activities involve multiple tedious steps. The phrase “I could do this in my sleep” comes to mind. With a runbook, you can!
Here’s the Magic
Runbooks allow you to organize your existing processes and automate the delivery of professional and managed services for Microsoft Azure, as well as services for Office 365, employee onboarding, and everyday help-desk requests. These runbooks guide IT professionals through the individual steps, using automation to increase efficiency and ensure a consistent experience for customers. Instead of sitting there performing repetitive task after task – creating a VM in Azure, manually resetting user passwords, provisioning new users in Office 365, etc. – simply launch a runbook to do it. It won’t make errors, it won’t get distracted, and you are always assured that it is performing the best practices you built into it. Not to mention the ability for you to work on more important – and hopefully more profitable – projects while the runbook works in the background.
Redefine Your Business
The real question is this: how runbooks can redefine your MSP business?
As you are building these runbooks, realize that the workflow you define in it comes from your experience and expertise – your own intellectual property (IP). The true value of your business is in that knowledge. Use it to provide managed services more effectively.
BitTitan provides an extensive library of pre-written runbooks and tasks to help you get started, including sections specifically devoted to services for Azure and Office 365.
You’re not limited to BitTitan Runbooks, however. Take and customize an existing runbook or create your own from scratch using the Task Library or your own PowerShell scripts. If you’re in the MSP business, you can sell your runbooks as new services to your clients. Did you catch that? Clients with an “s”. You can create a runbook once and sell it to many clients. Over and over again. Now there’s a repetitive task you won’t mind performing, right?
Here’s why this is so important.
Phil Sorgen, who used to be Microsoft’s global channel chief, long ago explained that “Microsoft’s one job is to provide a platform that partners can be successful running their solutions on.” Implied in that statement was the concept that partners had their own “solutions.” The fact is that when most partners said “solution” back then, they were referring to adding more infrastructure. Otherwise, they had no real defined solution of their own.
That won’t fly today. Customers demand solutions that are relevant to making their businesses better, and most infrastructure now exists in the cloud. The opportunity to install more infrastructure is gone. This means that MSPs must create their own IP to sell to customers, IP that solves business challenges like making their Azure cloud services run more efficiently through automation.
Your Runbook Set of Tools
BitTitan created MSPComplete to enable experts like you to automate Azure deployments and services by creating and using runbooks far more quickly and easily. As you look to the future, they are your fastest path to becoming a leader in Azure management services. Learn more about MSPComplete today or contact them to schedule a demo.