The cloud has become a top priority as more businesses undertake digital transformation projects to improve front and back-office operations. Some 90% of global organisations are expected to use cloud services by the end of 2022. But a successful migration is not enough, as businesses still need to ensure the new cloud environment is secure and running properly and this must go beyond the ‘break-fix’ level of IT support.
Glen Bignall, managed services specialist at Columbus UK, argues that managed services provided by a reliable MSP are essential for businesses looking to achieve greater long-term flexibility and adaptability with their cloud projects.
Changing market trends, evolving customer needs and unpredictable events are just some of the pressures that businesses must now overcome to stay competitive. The cloud meets all these needs but requires an MSP to deliver the right managed services to ensure cloud solutions live up to their promises.
The global application management services market is already set to reach an estimated $32.6 billion by 2025 as organisations look to enhance application performance, improve cost efficiency and achieve business agility. But the guidance of a good MSP that can support current business systems and processes, understand the applications in use and deliver essential support for businesses will ensure long-term cloud project success.
In particular, stability, security and compliance are three of the main areas where businesses can significantly benefit from working with a Managed Services Provider (MSP).
1. Ensure round-the-clock maintenance and management with a team that is ‘always on’
With a one-stop service desk that is available for 24/7 support, businesses can rely on an MSP and their customer operations teams to deliver round-the-clock maintenance and management of core applications and infrastructure without disrupting business processes. As an MSP effectively becomes an extension of the in-house IT team, businesses don’t need to recruit or specifically assign someone to gain access to the right expertise and incur additional costs.
The right MSP will be able to customise services to a business’ needs regardless of SLAs, the scope of work or service hours. This can include solution optimisation, support, operations and management so there’s no need to look for separate providers to receive those services. An MSP can look beyond managed IT support and use their expertise to advise on ways to improve or transform business processes, rather than simply fix existing ones.
This ‘always on’ service means businesses can adopt a proactive approach to critical systems and ensure peak efficiency even during the busiest operating hours. For example, MSPs can monitor systems and resolve issues before they become a problem or conduct root cause analysis (RCA) to prevent the same issue from happening again. The importance of conducting routine maintenance on cloud solutions cannot be understated as it helps businesses prevent errors or imbalances in configuration, resource allocation and database integrity.
As the MSP handles day-to-day tasks associated with application and infrastructure management, internal IT and application development teams can focus on business growth and new innovations. This helps businesses improve employee productivity, enhance service delivery and streamline the user experience. With help from an MSP, businesses can also maximise uptime and with downtime costing an average of almost £4,000 per minute, it’s easy to understand why working with an MSP offers so much value.
2. Avoid data loss with cloud security measures
Business applications and the sensitive data they contain are prime targets for cybercriminals and the Covid-induced mass shift to remote working has only increased these attacks, as many vulnerable personal devices with typically poorer security were connected to corporate networks. This means businesses must make security a top priority when it comes to application and infrastructure management.
An MSP and their security experts will cover firewall and antivirus management, endpoint protection and identity governance to manage vulnerabilities and threats through their lifecycle by continuous monitoring, analysis and reporting. This allows businesses to anticipate and target breaches before they occur and significantly reduce the risk of cyberattacks, downtime and data loss.
An MSP can explore any opportunities for performance enhancement and use a structured release planning and deployment approach to ensure the production environment always remains stable. It is also important to not just manage applications but also the underlying infrastructure and the interfaces which could be part of the apps. This could be as simple as backing up data, and testing the disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity a vital task that is increasingly being automated to ease the manual burden on IT staff.
Automated testing allows businesses to more easily stress test the solution by simulating a situation in which many users are accessing different parts of a solution (or the same sub-element of it) at the same time. Today it would still take a few days to prepare and conduct the very first tests of the software in question, while all subsequent tests could be completed in two to three hours. In other words, that’s an efficiency gain of at least a factor of ten. This helps prevent surprises when there’s peak load such as during public holidays or when presenting annual accounts. Automated testing also ensures quality and increases the likelihood that all business-critical processes will work as intended.
3. Stay one step ahead of legal and regulatory compliance burdens
When businesses work with a top MSP, they can rely on the team’s years of experience in managing applications for a variety of organisations and navigating the associated challenges. For instance, an MSP can ensure applications are connected to each other as per industry best practices and that data storage policies are still legally and GDPR compliant, which has been especially important post-Brexit.
Compliance with data management practices, however, isn’t the only area that businesses must consider. Control and monitoring of certificates and when they expire can be challenging if businesses manage applications in-house. With expert MSP support, businesses avoid costly penalties for non-compliance and will ensure applications are secure and protected.
Trust the managed services experts and futureproof the new cloud environment
Unless businesses adapt to meet new market demands and ever-changing customer expectations, they will lose their competitive advantage. A shift to the cloud can help businesses keep pace with global digital transformation trends and deliver end-to-end efficiencies but such projects require extensive time, capacity and expertise.
Unlike internal IT teams, an MSP is placed to resolve these challenges and is not only a cost-effective alternative but also ensures security, compliance and maintenance will always remain a top priority through 24/7 support.
The author is Glen Bignall, managed services specialist at Columbus UK.
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