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May 14, 2021
By Carl Oliver
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations experienced rapid and dramatic digital transformation. For instance, research by McKinsey & Company points out that digital offerings have progressed in a matter of months, instead of the expected seven or so years they would normally have taken. Cloud-based technologies are at the core of many transformation projects.
However, as organisations adopt cloud in favour of traditional on-premises solutions, many would be mistaken in thinking that data doesn’t need to be backed up and that it is secure just because it has shifted to the cloud. This misconception is true across the small and midsized business (SMB) market, which makes for a market requiring support.
Tech companies (ITCs) need to acknowledge this backup problem that SMBs face and consult with them to develop their cloud strategies more effectively. As they do this, they need to collaborate closely with their cloud service provider (CSP) partners to help them profit from the revenue opportunity that is available when offering backup provisioning to customers. But, as ITCs and MSPs do this, what should they consider?
It won’t surprise the IT channel that protecting data and backing it up is critical. What is the difference between backing up data on-premises compared with cloud backup solutions?
As expected, an on-premises backup solution stores data securely on office-based hard drives. In principle, this is feasible, but what if a natural disaster occurs such as a pandemic, flood or fire? Accessing data becomes problematic and, depending on the situation, data could be lost forever. A case in point is this last year, as pandemic work-from-home restrictions prevented many people from working in offices, making the idea of accessing office technology and IT backups difficult. So, many businesses turned to the cloud for support. Which, rightly, highlighted the need for cloud data security.
There’s a common mistaken belief that just because you shift your applications and workloads into the cloud, all your data is completely secure. While the cloud offers many benefits, including the availability of data, it doesn’t entirely protect organisations from data loss or corruption alone.
For instance, a recent study found that 32% of companies using cloud had experienced data loss in the cloud across numerous threats. It points out that 64% of this data loss was accidental and that 20% was down to malicious intent.
Worse yet, the average cost of this data loss without a backup solution in place equates to almost $4,000 – not counting the potential reputational damage and fines from regulators. So, while cloud has enabled businesses to evolve and thrive, especially through the current pandemic, it’s clear that data stored in the cloud still needs to be backed up via a dedicated method.
This is why it is important for organisations to factor cloud back-up solutions into their long-term cloud and data-protection strategies. They are crucial and help address this growing risk of data loss that takes place, be that through accidental or malicious means.
Cloud backup solutions come with several benefits for organisations. Many modern backup tools include enhanced security features and the ability to scale backups as required. They also generally offer quicker recovery times if backed-up data is needed. Further, better security protocols, encryption, software patches and updates mean that there are more effective security options for ITCs to provide to their end-user customers in the cloud, too.
Furthermore, by using the cloud, organisations also can …
… scale more easily. They have the option and capability to move their data efficiently and quickly across the world. However, as with all technology, there are security risks to consider, which ITCs need to advise clients on.
This is where the relationship between CSP and ITC is important. Effective CSPs work with their ITCs to support them with cloud deployment consultancy and execution to customers. This usually includes providing collaborative insights about managing data privacy, security and infrastructure maintenance. Equally, this is an area where the SMB market requires more support – since 37% of SMBs, according to Forrester, are not adopting cloud due to security concerns.
Through the pandemic, many organisations turned to remote working to maintain productivity. Many of these applications are cloud-based; and for some, this meant that their IT estate had to evolve, and across the world there was an explosion in the use of collaboration technologies. And this is set to continue — research from the Cloud Industry Forum indicates that 88% of organisations expect their adoption of cloud services to increase in the next 12 months.
This trend toward cloud application adoption amplifies the need to move away from depending upon on-premises backups toward relying on cloud backup solutions instead. Further, since technology operates in an “always on” state of play, businesses can’t afford to wait for someone to physically attend an on-premises site to perform maintenance, especially during a pandemic.
Aside from this, it is crucial to note that during any crisis malevolent actors will seek to cause mayhem and exploit vulnerable situations. For instance, according to the Office of National Statistics, cybercrime greatly increased during the last year – added to that, not a week goes by without hearing about a high-profile cybersecurity incident. For instance, recently, North Korean hackers attacked Pfizer and Serco experienced a cyber-attack related to the NHS Test and Trace program.
Clearly, COVID-19 has created the perfect situation for cyber criminals to exploit. With many IT teams stretched – either by work-at-home restrictions, cloud/digital transformation projects or cyber-attacks – they have their work cut out for them. The pressure they face is unprecedented and emphasises the importance of putting in place robust data recovery and business continuity strategies to support their businesses. Evidently, there is a significant opportunity for the channel to step in and provide advisory and execution support and services to SMB customers.
Despite the benefits of the cloud and that it has dramatically sped up digital transformation, it also presents several challenges to organisations down the line. Data protection is one such challenge; and within this space, organisations must consider backing up their data with effective cloud backup solutions.
Alongside this, the channel must educate about the various data protection challenges that organisations will face – CSPs and ITCs must collaborate closely here to support SMBs with their security and backup concerns. By working well together, channel partners will be capable of capitalising on a potentially rewarding recurring revenue-generating opportunity.
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