5 Things Your Customers Won’t Have Considered About Moving to the Cloud

Businesses are easily swayed by the prospect of reducing their IT costs, but often this causes them to overlook things when moving to the cloud. MSPs have a big opportunity to help them see reason and guide them safely through cloud migration.

November 10, 2017

5 Min Read
Cutout of cloud

Businesses are easily swayed by the prospect of reducing their IT costs, but often this causes them to overlook things when moving to the cloud. MSPs have a big opportunity to help them see reason and guide them safely through cloud migration.

When it comes to making the switch to cloud-based services, business decision makers too often get seduced by the promise of access to limitless compute, storage and processing power in one highly secure, well-managed environment–all of which, they imagine, will be provided at a reasonable cost and require limited monitoring and management.

In spite of being warned by their own IT staff, these same decision makers often believe this also means they’ll be able to downsize their IT support and reduce their overall costs of computing. After all, why would you not be able to make huge savings in house if your chosen cloud services provider is going to handle everything for you—without requiring your own staff to monitor and manage either the data or the resources supporting the computing projects?

While there are important benefits to the cloud – including total cost of ownership, scalability, flexibility and a consumption based pricing model – there are many areas Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can help. Part of being a trusted IT advisor is to stop your clients from making the kinds of mistakes mentioned above, and to guide them through the minefield of cloud adoption and ongoing operations in a cloud computing environment.

To put the size of this opportunity in perspective, research firm Research and Markets recently released its Cloud Managed Services Market by Service Type, Deployment Type, Organization Size, Industry Vertical and Region – Global Forecast to 2022. The report points to an expected growth in the cloud managed services market from $27.15 billion in 2017 to $53.78 billion by 2022.

Backup and restore functionality is one crucial area for concern with cloud adoption. Admins need to prevent any backup and recovery issues before they become a problem and threaten data integrity. If you’re using Amazon Web Services (AWS) and a problem causes data to be deleted, there must be a robust backup implementation to ensure data can be recovered on any reasonable scenario. Amazon has powerful capabilities out of the box, but these need to be expanded. The AWS shared responsibility model states that “the customer assumes responsibility and management of the guest operating system (including updates and security patches), other associated application software as well as the configuration of the AWS provided security group firewall.” This means businesses need some essential functions that are beyond what Amazon provides.

If your customers are thinking of moving to AWS, here are five things your customers need to be aware of:

1. A lack of automated backups

Standard AWS customers must do backups manually, which makes the process is prone to errors and omissions. Manual backup management also makes it difficult for administrators to keep pace as the business and data requirements grow. Even if you’re using home-grown scripts, these can still be error prone and will not automatically scale. On top of this, you are also relying too heavily on a specific person who maintains the scripts and doesn’t provide all the essential capabilities of a backup solution. If you’re serious about backing up your Amazon instances, then consider a more mature, comprehensive solution that can automate the backup process for you, leaving you reassured that your recovery process will be successful. An automated backup management system can handle hundreds of volumes just as easily as one, given the right policies. 

2. The need for granular policies

Policies can be highly granular if you’re using a system designed specifically to automate AWS backup and restore processes. Admins can set RTO and RPO objectives on a per-volume basis, crafting an overall backup scheduling and management system that conforms perfectly to their business needs.

If one volume needs to be backed up every hour with a retention period of 14 days, while another must be backed up weekly and retained for a year, it doesn’t make sense to use the same policy for both. Companies that can craft dedicated policies for each will reduce their resource usage on AWS and avoid cloud “bill shock” as cloud storage charges mount up.

3. Adding watertight security

One of the biggest problems when managing AWS backups manually is insecure permissioning. Instead of granting high-level privileges to any storage admin that needs to run a backup, a dedicated system will manage permissions itself, granting policy management privileges to user accounts on a least-privilege basis. When using a dedicated system with built-in permission and credential management, only authorized people can set and change those policies.

4. Application awareness

One of the biggest benefits of a dedicated backup management solution is application-awareness. It should remove a problem with AWS snapshot scheduling that otherwise presents a burden for the user: backing up data while maintaining its integrity. Static data such as pictures and documents that may not change much can be backed up relatively easily, but backing up and restoring application-specific data is more challenging.

5. Monitoring and reporting

Instead of manually checking to ensure that backups are running smoothly, administrators should be able to schedule automated reports that show at a glance whether backups have been successful. This is not something that standard AWS users can expect. A specialist solution will need to be employed to enable to do this and to fix issues before enterprise data integrity comes under threat.

Ophir Shalitin is Chief Marketing Officer at N2W Software.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.


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