For many organizations, the question isn’t whether cloud hosting and cloud applications make sense. Rather, questions asked often concern –
Many businesses find the answer in managed cloud services.
A managed cloud service provides IT management of your hosted cloud platforms and applications, allowing you to decide how much your team does and how much you outsource. If you do not have an IT team, you can outsource all the work. If you have a small IT team, you can outsource the time-consuming manual tasks, freeing time for more strategic activity. Even enterprises can benefit by adding expertise without expanding the payroll.
To understand the benefits of managed cloud services, we first must understand the difference between cloud applications and cloud hosting.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a common description of a cloud application. Some well-known examples include:
Of course, there are many, many others. Generally, you can access these applications from anywhere, all you need is an internet connection and the appropriate login credentials.
With cloud applications, you need an administrator, someone to manage who has access to the system and their level of access (user, administrator, etc…). What you don’t need is anyone to setup, partition a drive, load software and applications, or manage technical elements like software updates. That is all handled by the application provider – and that typically includes training and employee support too.
Cloud hosting features a server and network infrastructure typically run from a data center where software partitions a single piece of hardware. It may include a hosted application, like a Microsoft 365®. Often, it simply features multiple, often virtual servers setup for optimized load balancing to prevent downtime.
Effectively, you move your network server into the cloud, giving you greater flexibility and ease to expand (or reduce) capacity as needed. In the case of a Microsoft 365®, both your email server and software run from the cloud. You may still need to load applications locally to laptops.
The advantages are numerous. A few big ones are:
Distributed tools and teams like this limit the impact of a disaster that would otherwise disrupt operations.
An important facet of the business continuity benefit is disaster recovery, or the ability to recover data and/or systems due to technology-specific events like data breaches, ransomware, and destruction of hardware like laptops and servers (not an issue for cloud-hosted solutions).
Managed cloud service providers back-up the hosted systems as part of their offering. You may also be able to take advantage of services like disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) that backs up your operating systems, files and data, applications, and all configurations.
If your managed cloud service provider offers IT management services, you may also be able to get endpoint protection and backup for local devices like PCs.
#2. Improved system reliability
The redundancy of cloud infrastructures and cloud architecture guarantees reliable access to all your business tools and data. Fail-safes are built-in to ensure uptime and continuity of access. A cloud host could lose an entire rack of hardware, but you would likely never know as the system would automatically “roll” to the next, redundant instance to keep you up-and-running.
#3. Enhanced scalability
One of the challenges for onsite servers is managing the hardware. If you need more memory or hard drive space, for example, you need to purchase and install it. With a cloud computing, you adjust your contract and go in and reconfigure for the newly added space. With a managed cloud service, you adjust the contract and they reconfigure the newly added space.
The service provided makes scaling to growth and other needs much simpler. You focus on the work you need to do while the service provider gets it done.
#4. Confidence in your data security
A data center company’s reputation depends on secured systems. You should always confirm with your managed cloud service provider the security of the data center they use. You wouldn’t want to find out they’re hosting your network out of someone’s bathroom.
Best practices for data centers include:
To get the biggest benefit from a managed cloud service, you need to find the right managed cloud service provider. In “What to look for in a managed cloud service provider”, we explore what to ask and how to evaluate, so that you can be sure to find the best one for you.