While cloud integration is virtually ubiquitous in modern computing, it is often misunderstood or misinterpreted outside of the IT industry. Outside of the sphere of tech insiders, where acronyms, jargon and abstract product names are commonplace, the idea of “The Cloud” can be shrouded in mystery from years of pop-culture confusion and misuse in fiction.
This murky situation provides you as an MSP the opportunity to step in and act as a trusted resource for information and education. A well-educated client base is more receptive to cross-sell/upsell sales, because they’ll more easily understand the foundational concepts of your service offering—as well as the essential value you can provide to their business. Plus, you’ll be fostering a closer client relationship that’s based on transparency, which can empower your end users to have longer and more profitable client life cycles overall.
This is especially important in the current state of cyber security concerns, as clients may be overly wary of cloud-based solutions, or may not fully grasp the increasing need for a security solution. In either case, a better understanding of the cloud and SaaS-based solutions will lead to a better conversation on the right security solution for your client.
Let’s look at four important areas to focus on when explaining the cloud to your clients, end users and prospects.
1. Define the Cloud
First things first; dispel the mystery. “The cloud” refers to a type of computing that is not done locally on your desktop, servers, or small devices (phones, tablets, etc.).
When users access the cloud, their local device is connecting to computing resources such as processing power, information, and storage, which are offsite at another location. These locations, known as data centers, are massive in size and scale. This allows them to house an infrastructure capable of offering computing resources to many people simultaneously, at a speed and efficiency far beyond those that can be achieved on a local machine for a comparable price. And because the demand on local devices is decreased via cloud computing, on-site technology costs can be slashed while gaining access to a greater range of services and resources.
Cloud computing essentially employs shared services to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of computing at scale, using less power comparably than all end users would use collectively. In the cloud, resources are shared by all users, so it can be shifted and targeted to meet the demand of users at specific times and locations.
2. How Managed IT Services Uses the Cloud
Next, it’s important to explain how your business fits into the cloud computing framework, and how it is utilized to deliver services and solutions.
Explain that cloud computing has given rise to various “as-a-service” models, most notably Software as a Service (SaaS), which allows MSPs to deliver fundamental IT solutions and to their end user customers for a fee. This method of service-based computing capitalizes on high computing power and performance, low cost of delivery, and the ability to rapidly scale to meet demand. MSPs can offer more services than ever before to end clients—many of which were reserved only for large enterprise companies just a few years ago.
3. Security in the Cloud
Security concerns are one of the more common reasons listed as a barrier to entry to cloud adoption. There are many misconceptions associated with cloud computing in regards to the transmission and/or storage of data from one site to another. Because the general public are not usually privy to the security policies, best practices, and risk mitigating efforts of managed services providers, they tend to be unaware of the ways that cloud platforms are secure, and the measures taken to insulate them from threats and bad actors.
However, it’s natural for small businesses to be cautious—much of how the cloud is deployed, implemented and managed is out of the hands and management of the business, and security incidents and breaches flood the news every day. Together, these points create fear, uncertainty and doubt in the marketplace, making a local option seem preferable; it’s not necessarily the best option, however.
Cloud-based companies invest heavily into security, with data encryption and rigorous processes to ensure hackers, internal bad actors and other threats are kept out and information cannot be accessed by unauthorized users. Not all unconnected local environments can have that care, procedural rigor, and investment put into them—leaving them vulnerable to malware, phishing and other internal and external attacks from daily use. By leveraging the expertise and capabilities of an MSP, end users can gain the technology and the skilled technical labor that’s needed to manage their IT environments.
Many clients who are in highly regulated industries, such as healthcare, finance, retail, construction, government, etc., have major concerns over using cloud-based or remote solutions, fearful that their use would put their business out of compliance and subject to violations or fines. Explain that many MSPs and IT platform suppliers seek to be in compliance with various well-known regulatory standards, such as HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, etc., specifically for catering to these verticals.
Additionally, it may help to explain the differences and various characteristics of public clouds and private clouds. With a public cloud, services are shared across multiple servers at the data center, and to optimize space and processing power, data is stored on the same servers as other end users and businesses. On the other hand, private clouds dedicate independent server space and resources to specific clients, ensuring there is a physical and digital gap between separate organizations and entities. This is particularly helpful for organizations that require independent resources to maintain compliance, but does not increase or decrease a security posture in and of itself. Those conversations are important to have, as they present another cross-sell/upsell opportunity for the solutions that clients need to stay safe in the modern computing environment.
Continuum in the Cloud
From RMM to security to backup and disaster recovery, Continuum solutions all utilize the highest cloud platform standards security and controls, allowing MSPs, ITSPs, Office Equipment Providers, VARs and other IT professionals to safely and confidently deliver SaaS-based solutions to clients whose requirements may greatly differ. From small businesses to highly regulated industries with large-scale compliance concerns, MSPs deploy Continuum to remotely monitor, manage, secure and back up client IT environments through cloud-based technologies and integrated NOC services.
For more on how Continuum utilizes the cloud to help MSPs deliver IT services at scale and grow their business, click here.
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By Paula Griffin
By Meaghan Moraes