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Cloud data management – the post-Covid future of data protection for MSPs

(Image credit: Image Credit: Melpomene / Shutterstock)

In 1943, with the world at war, Abraham Maslow quietly penned the finishing touches to his seminal theory. 80 years on and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs still stands. The American psychologist put forward the idea that people are motivated by five basic categories of needs. Starting with physiological needs at the base then, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization (this was later expanded to include cognitive and aesthetic needs).

Once the lower need is met, the next gets our attention. It’s a pyramid concept many of us can relate to, especially in the wake of Covid-19 (with many remote workers now adding ‘wi-fi’ as a basic need!). Let’s face it, most of us feel like we’ve had the rug pulled out from under us, as our basic need of protection is challenged. We feel out of control and vulnerable. In fact, nearly all categories in the hierarchy are affected by Covid-19: job security is at stake, we are disconnected from family and friends, and we’re worried about the impact of the virus on our mental, physical and economic health.

Five data management challenges facing IT leaders

But aside from how the virus and its fallout has affected our personal lives, our work hierarchy of needs has been impacted too. Our physical environment has changed - we now log onto work rather than going to work; our security is threatened as our online world is more susceptible to hackers; and our connections to colleagues are now predominantly through a screen. 

To keep up our productivity levels we all need fast, safe and easy ways to access our work. Yet even before the pandemic many IT leaders were struggling to meet these demands and implement robust data management. From the conversations we’ve had with IT leaders these are the main challenges they’ve shared - these are probably similar conversations MSPs are having with their clients and prospects too:

1.            Keeping up with the needs of a digital workplace – There’s no doubt, the way we work is changing, rapidly. But one need remains - wherever users are in the world, they all want their systems to work the way they do, in real time. The pandemic has accelerated remote-working programs at scale – 451 Research estimates there are more than 70 million of us working remotely1. And if they’re anything like us, they all expect their critical data to be at their fingertips, wherever and whenever they need it. It’s an on-demand world and tolerance for slow data restores is low.

2.            Struggling to contain unpredictable hardware costs - Most businesses, particularly large enterprises, have IT estates that have morphed over time. Many are still reliant on legacy systems that are feeling the strain and need onsite support. For many IT teams, it’s a case of simply managing the mess. Frustrated by the limitations (and soaring storage costs) of ageing infrastructure, IT leaders are searching for comprehensive, flexible platforms that give them real-time access and insight to their data – without the eye-watering price tag.

3.            Scrabbling to manage complex data - A typical business today stores 10 times more data than a decade ago2, and there was no furlough scheme for data during the recent pandemic. In fact, data growth accelerated (reported as a "high watermark" of data sharing in the recently published UK government’s national data strategy)3. Data now exists in more formats than ever before and it is sprawling across a continuously growing number of devices, applications and cloud platforms. Getting full visibility of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data is extremely hard. And with Brexit looming all eyes are on data sovereignty.

4.            Fighting to make data security a top priority - Despite reports that cyberattacks have spiked in the first half of 2020 (Covid has exposed UK cyber security vulnerabilities with more than 65,000 attacks a day)4, many businesses are still failing to take a recovery-first approach. We’ve all seen the headlines of disgraced companies that have been breached, yet many of us blindly believe it won’t happen to us. When a business is breached – the cost is huge. Not just fines and reputational damage – but the internal impact and user frustration of losing access to systems for a period of time.

5.            Trying to protect their cloud-based data – The adoption of collaboration tools such as Microsoft 365® and G Suite continues to grow at a pace (Gartner reports: that by 2022, public cloud services will be essential for 90% of data and analytics innovation)5. This won’t be new news; cloud is a given. All of your clients are on a cloud journey and will have adopted SaaS apps to some extent. But with the rise in traffic moving to the cloud (IDC reports 60% of European companies are either maintaining or increasing their spending on SaaS)6, comes a higher level of SaaS penetration that isn’t fully acknowledged. Many businesses are still under the impression that security and back-up tools are built in (spoiler alert: they’re not). 

The pivot to cloud data management

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The dynamic changes in 2020 have emphasized just how much MSPs need to be on the front foot with innovative data management solutions. And those that are pivoting to cloud data management are seeing both a boost in their revenue, and an ability to Covid-proof operations. 

After all, customers with on-site solutions may not be able to get an engineer visit in person. Companies are shrinking, or growing, rapidly, and need to be able to scale up or down accordingly – without hitting the bottom line. And for remote users the expectation is that they can work wherever they need to, whenever they need to. The only way MSPs can help companies meet these challenges is with cloud data management.

How MSPs can benefit from embracing cloud data management

Automated cloud data management really provides the opportunity for MSPs to amplify revenue and help their customers regain control of data. Here’s how:

1.            Unify complex data: With a one-stop, cloud-data management platform, MSPs can stream customers' backup, archive and DR data, while offering invaluable insight into entire data estates. This enables them to gain borderless visibility of all critical data, structured and unstructured - from a single control center in real time. Importantly this includes Microsoft 365 and G Suite data.

2.            Eliminate downtime: Modern solutions now instantly restore individual files or whole systems, using user-driven recovery methods. And customers can access and work on priority data while the rest recovers in the background. It’s not a case of if hackers will strike, but when. By enabling instant data, users can be up and running at the click of a button.

3.            Margin-rich recurring revenue: Today’s cloud-based data management eliminates the need for expensive hardware and maintenance costs; and businesses can scale up or down as demand changes. There are no complex licensing models and MSPs can dynamically manage account levels through a self-service portal. MSPs get a margin-rich recurring revenue stream and customers get a predictable opex-only model.

4.            Accelerate the entire sales journey: One of the biggest frustrations for MSPs is the back and forth with clients and vendors getting demos booked and contracts signed. Automated cloud-data management platforms address all of this. MSPs can onboard faster, convert faster, provision faster, bill faster and scale faster.

5.            Simplify MSP operations: The latest multi-tenanted platforms are designed for MSPs and perfect for the Covid-19 world. They are quick to demo and deploy, without any site visits. MSPs can now effortlessly manage all their customers’ data and service them from anywhere, on any device at any time through a single, web-based control center. Plus, with comprehensive insight dashboards, MSPs can easily identify additional revenue opportunities.

Cloud data management: The opportunity to regain control

Data management today is complicated and time-consuming. But it doesn’t need to be. IT leaders are crying out for radical change, but they can’t do it alone. This is where MSPs can add considerable value. They can help companies master data sprawl and navigate a new world with automated cloud-based data management.

It won’t come as a surprise to hear that many IT leaders feel they have lost control. Covid-19 has forced dramatic change and opened up new frontiers for hackers. And it’s demonstrated the importance of digital readiness. Cloud data management is the road to intelligent data management. It offers MSPs a simple and smarter solution, and a way to turbo-charge their revenue. But to outdo competitors, MSPs need to move fast to differentiate and help companies regain control over data.

James Griffin, Chief Product Officer, Redstor (opens in new tab)

James Griffin is Chief Product Officer at Redstor, where he leads product design and engineering. He has held leadership roles at leading SaaS, cloud and hosting service providers.