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Why MSPs are Turning to This Top Technology


In my first two posts in this series, I talked about the expertise it takes to become a world-class MSP and the technical capabilities needed to pass the Azure Expert MSP audit. Having the right knowledge and tools go hand in hand if you want to attain the coveted Microsoft Azure Expert MSP certification.

In this blog, I’m going to delve a bit more into the technology side of the certification and discuss how the platforms and products available from CloudBlue have become key assets in Ingram Micro Cloud’s ability to service our customers. In fact, CloudBlue’s technology was the driving factor in Ingram Micro Cloud’s ability to successfully meet the stringent technology requirements associated with Microsoft’s Azure Expert MSP audit.

Along with working in the professional and managed services space, I also have a favorite hobby: working on my old Jeep CJ-7. The great thing about a Jeep is that it’s straightforward to work on and there’s always something that needs fixing. The other great thing is I don’t need a lot of tools; most of the time, as long as I can find my ½-inch socket, I can get the job done.

In the business world, there are a lot of tools to choose from, and I’ve seen what happens when you have the right tools for the job—and when you don’t. Sometimes these tools are complex, and sometimes you just need the technological equivalent of a ½-inch socket. But without the right tools, all the expertise in the world won’t get you where you need to go, leaving you with continuing problems.

How CloudBlue meets the technology requirements for the Azure Expert MSP certification

When Ingram Micro Cloud pursued the Microsoft Azure Expert MSP certification, the company turned to CloudBlue to power its cloud management platform (CMP), which included using a combination of CloudBlue Commerce, CloudBlue Connect and Multi-Cloud Orchestrator. Key requirements in the audit for the certification state that you must have an automated CMP along with tooling for provisioning and orchestration.

Rather than reinventing the wheel or purchasing a new technology stack, they found that the tools from CloudBlue fulfilled important areas of the technology requirements, including sections 4.10, 4.11 and 5.20. For more details, read the blog, Become Azure Expert MSP Certified.

Using the CloudBlue platforms, incorporated with our other products, Ingram Micro Cloud was able to present a complete architecture for their on-site audit, as seen in the diagram below.

Let’s take a look at each section: 4.10, 4.11 and 5.20. Ingram Micro Cloud was able to fulfill the requirements of section 4.10, which is about demonstrating technology used for provisioning and orchestrating Azure environments. With Multi-Cloud Orchestrator, they were able to easily demonstrate the required evidence for this section.

Section 4.11 requires that applicants have automated deployment tools. While not a part of the on-site audit, it’s one of many essential elements of the certification. To pass this section, Ingram Micro Cloud turned to CloudBlue Connect, which helped the company successfully meet the technology criteria. CloudBlue Connect is a catalog and channel management platform that supports omni-product (any type of product) distribution and uses automation as part of its fulfillment and procurement capabilities. In addition, CloudBlue Connect’s flexible APIs enable it to integrate with any commerce platform and any back-office system.

Section 5.20 requires those pursuing the certification to have a robust CMP and to demonstrate its capabilities on-site during the audit. Using CloudBlue Commerce, CloudBlue Connect and Multi-Cloud Orchestrator, Ingram Micro Cloud was able to meet the three core requirements of section 5.20:

  • Service request management
  • Provisioning, orchestration and automation
  • Governance and policy

Service request management requires that you have an interface by which cloud services are consumed and/or requested by the customer. You need to have the ability to provision Azure and orchestrate subscriptions. Ingram Micro Cloud fulfilled this requirement with CloudBlue Commerce.

The provisioning, orchestration and automation requirements state that you must show evidence of these capabilities. They used CloudBlue Connect and Multi-Cloud Orchestrator to pass this part of the audit. Ingram Micro Cloud also met the governance and policy requirement with Multi-Cloud Orchestrator, which involves demonstrating detailed policy enforcement and governance.

The following table lists the CloudBlue platforms and products that correlate with each element of section 5.20.

Item Evidence CloudBlue Technology
Access Management User provisioning CloudBlue Commerce
Service Request Management & Service Catalog Provision Azure & Orchestrator subscriptions CloudBlue Commerce
Provisioning Deploy ARM templates & provision Azure resources Multi-Cloud Orchestrator
Orchestration and Automation Deploy multi-tier architecture with networks Multi-Cloud Orchestrator
Governance and Policy Show policies by restricting provisioning to regions Multi-Cloud Orchestrator
Consumption Monitoring and Metering Metering on CloudBlue Connect CloudBlue Commerce

These core technology aspects of the audit require the ability to see and manage just about every aspect of your managed service customer. This management must have the ability to inherit various rules and restrictions from the Azure portal, and not just work as a standalone management platform.

The ability to work in conjunction with the Azure portal and extend its capabilities is one of the reasons CloudBlue technology is so easy to use. When Ingram Micro Cloud went through the various requirements, they found they could quickly map the required evidence to functionality that they employed on a regular basis.

When looking at areas such as provisioning as well as policy and governance, they had the ability to point directly to functionality in the CloudBlue platforms and products, allowing them to quickly deploy ARM templates, and provision Azure subscription and resources. They were able to inherit and institute Azure policies that restrict provisioning based on various regions while showing evidence of integrated metering capabilities.

Using the functionality of the systems already in use, combined with the team’s knowledge and expertise as well as the inclusion of various other tools in their toolkit, Ingram Micro Cloud was able to master the requirements needed to become an Azure Expert MSP. Without having all these pieces in place, the chances of making it through the audit would have been greatly diminished.

To learn more about how you can use CloudBlue technology to pass the technical requirements of the Microsoft Azure Expert MSP certification, visit us online. For more information about CloudBlue, contact us at together@cloudblue.com.