With Cloud Hosted Services becoming very popular with Small and Medium (SMB) sized businesses, IT Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) find that the onus of maintaining servers and backing up data no longer falls with them, but rather with the Cloud Vendor.
Take Hosted Exchange for instance – a service like Microsoft Office 365 has zero Microsoft Exchange maintenance requirements, and all data is backed up and stored securely in a Microsoft Data-centre.
Or is it? Microsoft are not alone in suffering outages for their Cloud Hosted services, and for many MSP’s thoughts have turned to how they can supplement the Cloud Service providers backups with their own systems of backup and redundancy.
Adding such services can be a real value add for a client in an industry where margins on Cloud Services are typically slim.
Here are 4 areas your IT Support business can help your clients back-up the Cloud.
E-Mail is core to many clients businesses, and so ensuring that e-mail continues to flow when a Cloud Service is experiencing an outage is a belt and braces approach that many clients would be interested in. Additionally, the bog standard e-mail security products that are provided with many Cloud Services means that Spam and false-positives, or legitimate e-mails incorrectly marked as spam, can still be a problem.
The solution lies in providing both redundancy and a better grade of spam filtering, using best of breed products for e-mail filtering.
By re-directing the clients MX record within DNS to a 3rd Party e-mail filtering product such as GFI Max Mail or Exchange Defender, and then configuring that service to deliver e-mail to the Cloud Hosted service, your client gains the benefit of better e-mail security, plus a 2nd Web Portal to visit should the Cloud Hosted e-mail service suffer an outage.
Additionally, such e-mail filtering services typically also offer you the option to archive off e-mails – helping your client achieve both internal and regulatory standards, whilst adding another recurring revenue source to your MSP business.
Beyond e-mail, a clients web-site is often one of their most important Cloud Hosted services, and one of their most vulnerable. Many a smaller MSP will re-tell a story of how their clients Web-Site was hacked and ended up displaying a Political motivated message or worse. A service such as CodeGuard ensures that your clients web-site is regularly and automatically backed up, so that in the event of a breach or accident that takes a web-site off-line, you can quickly restore your clients web-site back to its former state.
Similarly, Cloud service Backupify allows users to automatically backup other Cloud Hosted services such as GoogleMail, Flickr, Facebook (including company fan-pages) and even Twitter – ensuring that if the Cloud Service provider loses data, or even if the user accidentally destroys their own data, a backup is available for restoration.
Another service that is gaining popularity is Managed On-line Backup. These services can be as simple or as complex as your client needs. In this model, backups of vital documents and other data take place automatically according to a schedule to a cloud data-centre. The beauty of this type of service is that a good Managed On-line Backup service will allow you to schedule backups at downtimes, such as after office hours.
Where automatic backup is not possible, MSP’s can also help their clients backup Cloud Service data on a manual basis. On-Line Accounting and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) services often offer the facility to export data to a single file for backup purposes – and so the MSP can set a recurring ticket within their Professional Services Automation (PSA) or CRM tool to ensure that either they or the client download this data and store it in a secure location, be it on-site, or with another Cloud Backup tool.
Regardless of the Cloud Services your client uses, as an MSP you have both an obligation and an opportunity to treat these services like an on-site service – ensuring that the data is backed up regularly.
Not relying on the Cloud Vendor for backups means that in the event of a problem, your client has peace-of-mind that you’re there to look out for them.