The cloud is here to stay. But the cloud environment is also becoming increasingly complex. The increasing complexity prompts enterprises to seek managed service providers to manage their private and hybrid cloud infrastructure.
Enterprises adopting the cloud to run their IT infrastructure have to manage many cloud services. The effort needed for the process, including the initial migration, automating business workflows, designing UX, monitoring the traffic, managing services, and enforcing security protocols take tremendous effort. It is not realistic to do all the things in-house. Even the best-in-breed companies may not find talent or have resources to retain all tasks in-house.
Outsourcing cloud management helps enterprises consolidate their IT resources. They may align their IT systems with business objectives in the most cost-effective manner.
Setting up and managing computing infrastructure in-house is costly. The enterprise will have to spend considerable money to procure capital-intensive equipment and supporting infrastructure. Software and network infrastructure adds to the cost. Keeping the system running efficiently, hiring support hands, and training staff costs even more in recurring expenses. Small and mid-sized businesses can rarely afford such costs. Even if they can afford it, they could reallocate this budget to core business activities and get better ROI. It makes better sense to partner with a managed service provider who absorbs most of these expenses. Even if the overall cost is marginally more at times, a managed service provider still makes financial sense by reducing the burden of capital overheads and unexpected costs that add up quickly.
Many enterprises leverage managed service providers to control the cost of managing private and hybrid clouds. Cloud management outsourcing:
- Reduces the cost of operations. In most cases, the monthly bill of the managed service provider will be less than the costs that enterprises incur to do the same thing in-house. With managed service, enterprises pay only for the services and capacity they consume. They do not end up deploying resources for the load they expect but never come to pass, or which they need only for a few months of peak season demand.
- Reduce the burden on enterprise HR. Roping in specialists for managing the cloud has spin-off implications. Recruitment of IT professionals distracts enterprise HR from focusing on core business needs. They dilute their focus from identifying the talent and expertise needed to fulfil core business tasks. In fact, with talent scarce, many businesses may not even find the technical expertise they need, even if they can pay for it. With technology constantly changing, and turnover high, hiring talent to manage the cloud soon becomes unviable for HR. A managed service provider offers access to diverse talent and expertise as and when the enterprise needs it. They make sure their employees have access to the latest tools and skills.
- Brings predictability to the costs. With cloud management outsourcing, the enterprise knows what they will spend on any specific service, every month. Enterprises manage this fixed monthly bill as part of the budget. But unexpected bills or unforeseen escalations in maintenance costs derails the budget. The cloud also spares enterprises from the burden of heavy capital expenses (CAPEX). It rather breaks up costs into easily attributable operational expenses (OPEX). Enterprises can attribute which cost goes where, and bill their customers accordingly.
Demand for cloud services is soaring. The disruptions to operations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have sped up cloud adoption. Spending on infrastructure-as-a-service has shot up to touch $8.2 billion in the second quarter of 2021. This is an increase of 41% year-on-year and a 15% increase quarter-over-quarter.
Managing the cloud infrastructure is a non-profit generating cost center for the enterprise. With a managed service provider on board, the in-house IT and HR team may focus on more productive tasks. Outsourcing cloud management delivers:
- Access to resources: The cloud requires constant attention. Cloud optimization, security, and troubleshooting is a full-time activity. Small in-house IT teams become bogged down by such demands. Daily helpdesk tasks alone often overwhelm them. Cloud management outsourcing gets the task done by reliable experts at a much better cost.
- Focused and dedicated expertise: For managed service providers, cloud management is their core activity. They have access to robust/sophisticated tools and a dedicated team of engineers. Individual enterprises may not find it viable to deploy such tools or hire such resources.
- Fill gaps: The experts on board with the managed service providers fill gaps in skill-set faced by many businesses. They also integrate new processes into the existing stack easily.
- Help in cloud migration: For users looking to get into the cloud, managed service providers help to draw up an effective cloud migration strategy that syncs with the business needs. The service provider can partner with the business team to understand business needs. They draw up an ideal cloud environment, and roll out a migration strategy. The best strategy is often migration in stages, with a clear roadmap. The strategy prioritizes the data for migration, and the pace of migration.
- Future-proofing the business: Managed service providers go out of business if they cannot keep abreast of the latest trends and developments. The service of such providers enables businesses to have a future-ready business model. Businesses may tap into the latest applications and programs to run their operations, without worrying about support.
Consider hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), which entails the convergence of physical and digital worlds. Managing convergence requires advanced expertise not available to most enterprises, even industry leaders. Enterprises seeking to eliminate the large abstraction layer between hardware and software will also invariably have to turn to managed service partners for expertise.
Better Management and Troubleshooting
Cloud management outsourcing improves cloud maintenance and troubleshooting.
Cloud management entails maintaining control over cloud services. Admins manage different operations taking place in the cloud. They manage end-user activity related to applications, data, and services, maintain resource availability, implement security protocols, and do more. Outsourcing these tasks pre-empts most issues and speeds up response times for issues that do flare-up. This holds even if the in-house IT team has competent and highly qualified specialists.
Managed cloud service providers offer robust, cutting-edge infrastructure with 24×7 support. They:
- Deploy advanced tools to manage the cloud infrastructure ad ensure seamless operations. They offer network monitoring and scanning tools. They also deploy an intricate net of data centers and networks that weed out redundancies and enhance resilience.
- Have extensive knowledge of cloud environments. For instance, a managed services vendor who offers AWS will have experts maintaining the software on a real-time basis. They know about all the services offered by AWS and have experience on the nuances of the stack. They may draw from their experience and advise enterprises on how to use the service in the best possible way. In-house IT staff rarely have such deep expertise.
- Monitor and repair most of the network issues remotely, as soon as they sense something. In-house teams, invariably saddled with multiple tasks, often look into the issue only when something goes wrong.
- Ensure quick recovery in the event of a disaster. Managed service providers have a larger pool of resources, which they can deploy to fix something wrong. In-house teams, with limited resources, can rarely match outsourced providers in speed.
Unexpected breakdowns and downtime impacts business operations. Even a few seconds delay in the web page loading has big implications on customer retention. Today’s impatient customers would go elsewhere even if they encounter just a few minutes of downtime or delay. Cloud management outsourcing ensures instant responses, sparing the enterprise from such worries.
A computing infrastructure, regardless of its size, requires constant updates. The software running the system needs frequent updates to ward off security threats. The hardware also requires constant monitoring and service to ensure optimal running conditions. Today, an enterprise, even a small one, runs dozens of applications and programs. Operations may come to a halt, or get disrupted, even if one such program malfunctions.
Cloud service providers offer:
- Better control over service levels, performance, and maintenance, compared to doing the same things in-house. Enterprises that sign service-level agreement with a managed service provider ensure service continuity.
- Offer a robust network infrastructure, managed round the clock. System admins monitor the network constantly and intervene if issues flare-up. They guarantee near real-time uptime.
- Offer services such as enhanced network monitoring and patch updates, leaving the enterprise free from such burdensome activity. The level of services depends on the service agreement. The enterprise may tweak these agreements as needed, depending on the changed business requirements.
The cost of just one minute of downtime is $84,650, on average, in 2021. The stakes of proactive maintenance have never been higher.
Flexibility and Scalability
One of the big reasons for adopting the cloud is the flexibility and scalability on offer. Comprehensive cloud management requires a mix of strategies. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. The best course of action depends on the type of cloud, nature of operations, the IT services involved, and other factors specific to the business and the industry it operates in. The scope of these demands overwhelms even the most competent of in-house IT teams.
Most managed service providers:
- Offer flexible subscriptions. The cloud offers easy to scale up and scale down as the situation demands. But it takes a managed service provider to offer such scalability. Managed service providers understand their clients have different needs. They also understand that clients come to them for flexibility, scalability, and convenience.
- Allow enterprises to customize their capabilities. The enterprise may do specific things in-house, and subscribe to managed service offerings for the rest. For instance, enterprises with in-house storage may also subscribe to additional space from managed service providers, to scale up their computing resources when needed.
- Provide modular stacks. Clients may pick specific components of the cloud infrastructure they need. Managed service providers offer a range of customized services. Network monitoring, security, application integration, and performance monitoring tops the list. The enterprise may choose areas most needed or relevant to its specific business model or circumstances. For instance, one client may need only data storage. Another client may need website administration also. They also offer the clients the facility to change the quantum of resources. For instance, the client may take up 1 TB of storage, and top in up with another 1TB for a few weeks when they run their promotional campaign. They pay for the price, storage capacity, bandwidth, and other resources based on usage, and get support along with it.
It makes sense to cultivate relationships with a managed services provider, rather than engage in one-off transactions. The longer a service provider hosts enterprise data and programs, the more familiar they become with the client network and needs. Response time becomes faster. The service provider may even assign dedicated resources, leading to faster issue response times and even more flexibility.
Streamline Remote Work
Cloud management outsourcing helps the enterprise simplify and have greater control over remote work.
Remote work is here to stay in the post COVID world. Even enterprises operating out of a single location find remote work handy to overcome staffing challenges. Remote work makes it easy to hire staff from anywhere to solve the talent crunch. But without a robust framework and protocols in place, such remote work becomes counterproductive.
Remote work throws up challenges not easy to overcome using in-house expertise. For instance, employees working from home need access to sensitive company data. It is difficult to enforce the rigid security protocols applied in the office at a remote location. Ensuring security requires a different approach here.
Outsourcing cloud management makes data accessible from anywhere. The managed service provider:
- Ensures robust data management system, with reliable servers and top encryption security for the data in transit. The cloud provider may also assist in offering reliable, integrated views, to provide better UX to end-users.
- Offer a robust and fluid data pipeline, capable of handling frequent inbound and outbound traffic. Setting up and managing these data pipelines in-house is hard and resource-intensive. The cloud provider offers storage that dynamically adjusts to data throughput spikes. This ensures consistent access to data in a cost-effective way.
- Routes the management of servers and applications through a central data center. This makes the workplaces more productive. Remote users and employees get access to all the applications and servers, including virtual services.
- Backs up data servers backed up in real-time, which mitigates losses in the eventuality of a disaster. They have diverse data backup systems spread across different regions. Professionals monitor the network round the clock. The dedicated nature of operations ensures maximum system uptime and accurate data recovery in the event of outrages.
Losing control over the data, and the possibility of data theft, made many enterprises reluctant to migrate to the cloud. These notions have changed over the last few years. The cloud is now safer than on-premises infrastructure when security is right.
Cloud security depends on strong access controls, network monitoring, and regular vulnerability management. Enterprises with cash on hand may buy advanced cybersecurity tools such as security information and event management (SIEM). But their in-house IT teams, saddled with multiple responsibilities, cannot use these tools to their full potential.
Managed service providers:
- Deploy sophisticated tools that offer complete visibility into the infrastructure. For instance, advanced network monitoring tools analyze network traffic and detect anomalies in real time. These tools identify the correlations between security incidents, and improve response time to incidents.
- Monitor the network continuously. They pick up dissonance and identify trouble before it becomes apparent. They often review and resolve potential issues even before the client notices the disturbance.
- Offer advanced encryption, which makes data transfer secure. Managed providers offer a range of options, and update these options as the technology changes.
- Hire in-house security analysts with specialized skill sets such as forensic analysis. Several security consultants specializing in AWS, Azure or Google Cloud offer layers of security. It is easy for small and mid-size companies to get top-notch cloud security enjoyed by Fortune 500 companies, at very affordable prices.
- Follow up with the vendor and resolve any vendor-specific issues. For instance, an AWS cloud-managed service provider may contact third-party vendors to resolve any issue that flares up at their end.
- Undertakes proactive patch updates, minimizing the chances of software glitches. In-house IT teams, saddled with many things, can end up neglecting patch updates. At times, they often pay the price for it through security breaches. With managed service providers, patch updates become part of contractual obligations.
Businesses leaders who embrace cloud management outsourcing remain free to focus on their enterprise strengths without being bogged down by routine administrative or fire-fighting tasks.