Cloud Management for MSPs

Cloud Management for MSPs

Cloud management for MSPs has become a huge opportunity. However, for many MSPs, cloud has become a mixed bag. Approximately 80% of an MSP ‘s customers are SMBs and many of them confuse Cloud and Saas and put them in the same grouping, assuming they need one when the other might be sufficient. This confusion represents an opportunity for education and potential profit for the MSP.

MSPs realize that cloud is not only an opportunity to profit from existing demand but also an opportunity to provide value and continuity. However, the complexity of cloud is such that an MSP cannot simply buy into a cloud service or purchase storage space and call it a day. There are significant issues such as economy and bandwidth that MSPs and clients must consider before embarking on options like AWS, Google Cloud or Azure.

This ability to make the cloud make sense is part of the value MSPs can offer. This can and should be part of MSP best practices. The additional opportunity to get value out of the cloud comes from MSP’s ability to monitor the various cloud environments, provide proper alerting and ensure that resources on the cloud provides the value and continuity that customers need.

To better understand the complexity of the cloud, this blog will look at:

  • Differences in cloud offerings
  • Why cloud requires vigilance
  • How MSPs can provide value from cloud

Understanding cloud management for MSPs- Not all clouds are created equal

There are essentially three basic types of cloud offering: public, private and hybrid. For the MSP’s client, the main purpose of choosing between these three options is to see which one provides the best economies for data storage. Before being able to understand which option is best for an MSP’s customer, it is important to realize the differences between the three.

Public cloud

Public cloud is what traditionally defines services such as those offered by AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud. For the most part, there are large costs associated with moving data storage to large public clouds, not to mention the technical know-how that is also required. Specifically, there’re are costs associated with:

  • Time for the labor to move data to the public cloud
  • Gigabytes of storage
  • CPU
  • Bandwidth
  • Inferior performance when accessing data

When SMBs choose a public cloud environment, they are choosing to co-locate their data with other companies. While, the public cloud is less expensive than private, SMBs do still face large costs for increased internet usage. Additionally, their monthly cloud bill will vary based on amount stored and there is no point of diminishing returns where by companies reach a level where cost per GB stored decreases. Instead, no matter how much data companies store, they will continue to pay for what they use.  It is not possible for SMBs to budget monthly for public cloud.

Hosted Private cloud

While public cloud providers like AWS and Azure do provide private cloud offerings as well, this often comes at a significant price. Hosted private cloud offerings by companies such as Rackspace tend to be much more affordable. In fact, Rackspace solves the problem of customers paying for too much data by allowing a robust mid-size cost-effective solution which is not seen in EC2.  Amazon offers 100 GB and charges for all of it, regardless of whether you use 50 GB, 5 GB or even less. Rackspace lets you take backups and does not charge anything for it. Amazon charges for every I/O operation that you perform, whereas Rackspace does not.

For this improved economy of service, there is no increased latency provided by a company like Rackspace. Rackspace’s service offering is every bit as robust and reliable as that of AWS.

Hybrid cloud

The hybrid cloud employs both a private and public cloud to host data. Hybrid is especially popular with enterprise-level businesses. It’s considered redundant to have data in private and public clouds, but it is safer for data preservation during an outage. And outages do happen.

How to make cloud offerings profitable

Some of the really thriving MSPs today are those with developed private or hybrid cloud offerings. These MSPs acknowledge the need to have a robust cloud offering.  The MSP can offer a mix of private and hybrid cloud offerings. For example, instead of building a backup solution which is 100% cloud based, maybe you add in a few localized backup options for customers. This mix allows MSPs to charge more for more options and arguably better performance. The same can be true for managing the hosting, monitoring applications, and security.

How to maintain proper vigilance

An important part of proper cloud vigilance is ensuring there is sufficient alerting attached to the monitoring that is used on the cloud. Again, just like any other technology that a SMB uses, there needs to be an alert engine attached to the monitoring to ensure proper use and security.

Categorize alerts

Not all alerts are created equal. As such you need to determine which outages are high priority and which are low priority.  This step is essential so that you can prioritize your efforts and make sure you focus on the most important issues first and leave non-critical issues to be handled at a less hectic time. Priorities will change based on the business model at hand so they won’t necessarily be the same for any two businesses.

Determine which metrics you will use to define the significance of the issue.

Provide robust alerting

It is imperative that when any sort of critical security or load balancing or integrity issue arises in the cloud environment, engineers are alerted immediately and persistently until they respond to the issue. The alert they receive cannot come through email or SMS. Instead, the alert must be robust and continue alerting until the MSP responds.

Provide escalations

Alerts sent out through ticketing tools stops being effective if the recipient of the alert is unavailable or unable to get to the incident. If faster incident resolution is the goal then the automation of alerts to escalate to another recipient must be a part of the plan to combat a critical incident.

Automation of alert escalation is something that ConnectWise doesn’t provide but third-party applications added to the service desk would eliminate the need to send out alerts manually to a list of individuals responsible for an incident.

How OnPage Can Help

OnPage is a cloud-based, industry leading smartphone application for high-priority, real enterprise messaging. OnPage provides critical alerts to Managed Service Providers based on notifications from a RMM or PSA system for faster incident resolution.

OnPage can be used to alert on anomalies in cloud-based storage instances and make sure that your hybrid, private or public cloud send alerts when issues arise.

Want to learn more about OnPage and the cloud? Contact us.