October 21, 2021

Three Things MSPs Should Consider When Building a Cloud Practice

By David Weiss

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly migrating their IT infrastructure from an on-premises model to public cloud platforms to capitalize on the cloud’s greater scale and flexibility. For managed service providers (MSPs), this means building a cloud practice is crucial for being able to fully support their clients’ needs.

Hybrid capabilities, compliance offerings, and optimizations for business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are some of the most critical aspects MSPs should consider when building their cloud practice, as these will enable them to best provide support and services to their customers. Simultaneously, MSPs should plan for BCDR protection that will maximize the resiliency of their clients’ cloud workloads, while also generating predictable revenue streams.

Flexible hybrid capabilities

While many SMB organizations are considering cloud migration, it’s common for them to also want to maintain certain workloads and IT environments on-premises. Hybrid cloud solutions offer options for consistency and flexibility that enable organizations to innovate across on-premises, multi-cloud, and edge computing environments. It’s key for MSPs to take this into consideration when weighing their options for which public cloud(s) to build their practice around.

The optimal hybrid and multi-cloud platform delivers benefits like:

  • Enabling remote work
  • Maximizing existing on-premises IT investments
  • Extending cloud scale and innovation to on-prem environments
  • Managing on-prem and cloud workloads from a single control plane

Additional attributes to consider in a cloud platform include the strength of its customer offerings for:

  • Apps: Building and deploying a truly consistent app experience everywhere in your hybrid cloud.
  • Data: Seamlessly migrating, managing, and analyzing data across your digital estate.
  • Management: Managing, governing, and securing IT resources across on-premises, multi-cloud, and edge environments from a single control plane.
  • Security: Getting unified hybrid security management and advanced threat protection for all your workloads across on-premises and cloud environments.
  • Identity: Giving users a seamless, single sign-on experience across cloud, mobile, and on-premises apps by managing access with a unified identity platform.
  • Networking: Extending your existing network to the cloud, thereby securely connecting distributed workloads and locations at a global scale.

Compliance offerings

Regulatory compliance is a top priority for nearly all organizations and therefore is a major consideration when adopting a public cloud platform. Understanding how a cloud platform helps meet regulatory standards and/or offers solutions to help achieve compliance enables MSPs to instill trust with their customers about their services.

When it comes to regulatory compliance, MSPs should review a platform’s ability to cover global, industry, and government-specific regulations including General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and more to ensure their cloud practice will meet data protection requirements.

When reviewing a cloud platform’s compliance capabilities, be sure to also evaluate any compliance solutions it offers, such as:

  • Security and compliance templates that allow users to easily create, deploy, and update compliant cloud environments.
  • Unified security and threat protection to manage security policies and automatically detect threats and anomalies across cloud workloads.
  • Policy management options for defining and enforcing controls that help your cloud environment comply with internal policies and external regulations.

Maximizing Availability/Resilience through BCDR

Like their on-premises counterparts, public cloud platforms require comprehensive BCDR solutions be implemented to protect client workloads. While many public clouds offer native backup and disaster recovery solutions, MSPs have an opportunity to add value by delivering additional protection that goes beyond those capabilities.

Multi-cloud backups can be an essential asset in providing extra layers of protection. When building their cloud practice, MSPs should seek out solutions that enable their clients to:

  • Stay up and running during cloud outages, ideally providing backup and failover to a secure cloud with no extra fees for data egress.
  • Gain extra protection against malicious attacks by keeping backups secure behind a separate cloud portal located outside of the public cloud platform for additional reassurance of safety.
  • Verify hourly backups with more frequent backups and verification to better optimize recovery point objectives (RPOs) and confirm that backups are both working and bootable.

Making the most of the Cloud

While there are many things to consider when offering business and technical services around the cloud, taking into account hybrid options, regulatory compliance, and BCDR offerings will ensure MSPs are maximizing the benefits for both them and their customers through their cloud practice.

Due to its strengths in many of these attributes, Microsoft Azure is more frequently emerging as the public cloud platform of choice for SMBs, with 48% of SMBs adopting Microsoft Azure to date.

MSPs can provide comprehensive multi-cloud BCDR protection for their clients as they transition to the leading cloud provider for SMBs with Datto Backup for Microsoft Azure: a best-in-class business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) solution built exclusively to meet the needs of MSPs.

Some key benefits of DCMA include: 

  • Maximized resiliency for customer environments
  • Protection from ransomware threats
  • Predictable pricing for your clients
  • MSP-oriented toolsets for increased ease of use

To learn more, download The MSP’s Guide to Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

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