Advantages of Using Managed Services Alongside Cloud Deployments

Cloud computing has become a staple for doing business in today’s fast-paced mobile world but most organizations are yet to grasp the benefits of working with a managed service provider. Working with a managed cloud services partner allows organizations to adopt the cloud quickly and use cloud services effectively. Here are some of the benefits:

Access to Cloud Talent

Every organization comprises employees who hold a host of skills, but hiring people to meet every need may not be sustainable or practical in the long run. An MSP can fill any skill gaps with qualified experts. Clients who utilize managed cloud services automatically gain an IT staff that is well-versed in the newest cloud technologies. After your organization’s data and workload has been successfully migrated to a more cost-effective, flexible cloud solution, it will demand a team with a specific set of skills to support your applications and infrastructure. This team must receive training on how to operate in a cloud environment successfully. Although training your current IT staff is also a viable option, it will take a considerably long time, plus resources, for them to reach an expert level. By leveraging managed cloud services, your business instantly gains a team of virtuosos that come with a diverse skill set and the operational know-how to resolve, mitigate, and prioritize a slew of issues.

Manageable Recurring Costs

Utilizing managed services allows you to save money by keeping network maintenance costs at bay. Staffing a full-time IT department is a costly expense on its own and is unnecessary with small-to-medium sized businesses with small undemanding networks. Teams must also manage and model their capacity plans and make sure the budget is adjusted accordingly whenever they deviate from it. Tracking and budgeting the costs associated with a cloud deployment is much more of an art than a science. MSPs typically provide a one stop shop that enables you to budget a fixed monthly cost without worrying about any underlying variable costs. Working with a cloud managed service provider grants you complete control over how much or how little IT services will cost during a quarter.

Focus on Your Core Business

Organizations that manage their own data centers typically end up maxing out the IT team, since they are incapable of handling the company’s overall IT requirements in addition to any cloud infrastructure issues. Working with an MSP allows your IT staff to focus on core enterprise innovations and function, instead of troubleshooting daily cloud environment issues that monopolize their time. There will be a brief adjustment period when the staff must adapt to the processes and operations with your managed cloud services provider.
By contracting cloud management to trusted experts in the market, who fully grasp the support, infrastructure, and security needs of cloud deployments, you reduce your time to market for new products and services, while increasing your organization’s productivity, scalability, and security. The provider you opt to go with becomes an integral part of the team. Once the relationship has been built and the cloud strategy is successfully implemented, your team will be all set to focus on the tasks at hand.

Maintain a Competitive Technological Edge

Migrating to a cloud environment is the first step of future-proofing a data center. With the rate at which new technologies are coming up, even the best and brightest IT personnel will have trouble keeping up with the advancement. The next phase in the cloud deployment process should be contracting a managed service provider to make sure the latest services and technology is available to you. Introducing new technologies to your IT staff typically involves costly training. However, managed cloud service providers are better equipped to react to constantly changing technologies and trends in the market.
Finding the right managed cloud service provider is daunting. You want your MSP to help manage your cloud environment more effectively and be flexible to your company’s requirements. The ideal MSP will have multiple areas of focus and will be capable of tailoring a solution that meets all your requirements. Like everything else, good MSPs don’t come cheap. But the benefits your company will enjoy will be worth the cost.

Author: Gabriel Lando
Image Courtesy: Jumpe, Freedigitalphotos.net

Managed Cloud Service: Getting it Right the First Time

Cloud computing has become a requisite part of enterprise operations for large and small companies. Most companies rely on cloud vendors to fulfill a host of IT-related needs at a fraction of the cost of having traditional in-house IT services. However, it’s time businesses realize cloud adoption alone will not have the trans-formative effect they desire. To harness the true power of the cloud, DevOps methodologies and automation tools must iterate quickly, move faster, and build lasting products. As the managed cloud services market gains traction, the number of providers who purport to have the expertise to manage those aspects of the cloud continues to grow. A managed cloud allows enterprises to maximize their IT resources and empower their workers to focus solely on initiatives that generate revenue. Some of the important considerations when seeking managed cloud services are listed below.

I. Domain knowledge to tailor services

No two companies are similar; varying workloads call for varying solutions, based on specific requirements for data residency, cost, availability, performance, security, and more. The ideal managed service provider will want to know the specific resources you require from your cloud vendor. They will inquire about the specifications and characteristics you need to run your existing workload smoothly. They will also want to understand the data you have and your requirements for moving said data. The right managed cloud services provider will have a host of questions for you. Ensure your cloud workloads are not managed according to some blanket ‘one-size-fits-all’ parameters, but enable your business to have visibility and input into crucial service parameters.

II. The Service Level Agreement should be perfectly aligned with your business priorities

There is still a lot of ambiguity among customers and service providers regarding SLAs for cloud services. SLAs are standard practice for any service, for example a would-be homeowner to provide contractors with a blueprint before they begin working on the house. In the same regard, an SLA serves as the blueprint for cloud computing. The burden of ensuring suitable measures are put in place to meet your regulatory and security requirements squarely falls on you. So, confirm any managed service provider you intend to work with has the expertise, technology, and architecture to meet them. Most cloud and managed service providers limit their availability service level agreements to infrastructure uptime; so, they are indemnified from application availability, which are typically marred orchestration problems, issues with software updates, and more. A good service provider should help configure cloud services to meet application availability requirements and be willing to stand by the assurances with a service level agreement.

III. The security Aplomb

Security remains a top concern for using the cloud for sensitive workloads, mainly because IT decision-makers feel like they have limited visibility or control of security surrounding workloads. Ensure your managed cloud service provider has established security practices in its own processes and infrastructure and provide access to security experts capable of helping you address and assess vulnerabilities within your own workloads. A key strategy for security is monitoring. The most efficient approach is automation of the monitoring process with human review and response to guarantee the possibility for failure is repaired before your business is affected. Other key security strategies are backup and recovery of data, compliance assurance, and data encryption

IV Round the Clock Support

Ensure you understand the protocol for after-hours support. Knowing a qualified professional is available to work on any issues that may occur, regardless of the time of day, provides the peace of mind needed to grow your business. Another crucial aspect of support is reporting. The reporting platform your managed cloud service provider offers should have a rich array of data in a user-friendly interface, making the entire process straightforward for even non-technical employees

V. Reliability

The last requirement is an apogee of all the above. The MSP market is flooded with providers who claim they can fully meet all your requirements. Driven by the presage of low-barrier to entry and recurring revenue, some providers have made minimal investments that guarantee their quick demise. Since most of the current cloud platforms do not allow for easy migration, your company’s data and workloads may be locked-in with a provider that ceases to exist before the end of your contract. Although the cloud market has been around for some time now, the deep relationships with leading application and technology providers required to establish successful managed cloud offerings take a considerably long time to build.

Author: Gabriel Lando

MCSP – The Future of Managed Service Providers (MSP)?

The term managed service provider or MSP has been around for a while now. However, a recent shift in the way the enterprise consumes IT services and resources has prompted a change in the services delivered by managed service providers. Traditionally, a managed service provider oversees a client’s end-user systems and/or IT infrastructure on a proactive basis and under a subscription model. This entire arrangement is typically hinged on the MSP’s ability not only to demonstrate, but also provide additional value to the company. It’s no secret that cloud services have become a clear standard for enterprises. With most clients now adopting a cloud-based business model, it is crucial partners not only adapt to this new environment, but lead as a trusted adviser to remain relevant to their client base.

From Managed Service Provider (MSP) to Managed Cloud Services Provider (MCSP)

Innovations in mobile applications, big data, and social media have now become a staple, not only in IT but also in business. As a result, several MSPs have seen their companies transform to managed application and cloud services. As their clients’ IT infrastructure components migrate to the cloud, MSPs have been forced to offer their own cloud services, manage hybrid cloud environments, or resell other cloud capabilities. Briefly, MSPs have set out on a journey to become managed cloud services providers.
A recent study by CompTIA (The computing Technology Industry Association) found over half the companies surveyed had worked with an MSP for cloud-based services within the last year, and that number is only set to increase. Today, organizations are turning to their managed service provider for guidance and support as they move into the cloud. Only MSPs that can provide added value around cloud services will succeed in this emerging market.

What is a managed cloud?

A priori truth is that a cloud deployment cannot maintain or manage itself; every cloud must be managed by someone. This is where a managed cloud service comes in. These services allow businesses to tap into the power of cloud computing, without the having hustle of having to attain expert level knowledge about all the intricate details of cloud deployments. By utilizing a managed cloud, enterprises can now focus on their pith business – building great products or applications, delivering quality service, and landing new customers. They can remain fast and lean, without having to balloon their payroll with huge teams of system administrators, ops engineers, and other experts to manage IT that does not necessarily differentiate the company.
A laconic way to describe managed cloud services would be, outsourcing the daily IT management of cloud-based services and associated technical support in a cost-effective manner to improve your business operations significantly.

When does an MSP become an MCSP?

Managed cloud service providers are positioned to provide a vast array of smart choices for a company. Clients are looking for an MSP capable of managing workloads in reliable cloud services. Managed cloud services allow enterprises to improve competences they lack or replace the processes or functions that contribute to the large recurring costs of managing a cloud deployment.

Some issues most organizations need help with when migrating to the cloud include:

I. IT infrastructure efficiency

Infrastructure associated with cloud deployments must be standardized, consolidated, orchestrated, and automated end-to-end to maximize asset utilization and reduce the cost of delivering cloud services.

II. Data center efficiency

Some data center efficiencies the cloud demands are cooling, space, and power. Whether the organization owns the data center or it is hosted, these are important factors that have to be put into careful consideration to drive the service delivery cost down.

III. Organizational efficiency

Hallmark of a successful cloud deployment is a service-oriented enterprise with unified, converged, and highly specialized teams capable of enforcing automated, streamlined, and strict processes. The cloud is a paradigm shift that demands simplicity and discipline.
A good MCSP should be capable of meeting all the above needs and then some. The inherent value of support and customer service provided by a managed cloud service provider’s infrastructure and applications can be an epoch-making investment towards business success. To reap the full benefits of these investments, organizations require support that makes the best use of system availability and optimizes performance. Most companies have realized that an end-to-end cloud solution is more than technologies, tools, and processes. The true value lies in the services delivered and the expertise a managed cloud service provider offers.

In Closing

As the advancements in mobility services, big data, and cloud computing continue to make leaps and bounds in the enterprise, the managed service providers cannot afford a ‘one-trick pony’. They have to bundle cloud services. The world will likely shrink for MSPs that cannot adapt to this new model, where you are helping an end-user client utilize technology as opposed to building the technology on a server.

Author: Gabriel Lando

Role of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in the Cloud

“I need a list of specific unknown problems that we’ll encounter.”

Now that cloud computing is more widely utilized in the enterprise, it is crucial for organizations to grasp ways they can maximize the benefits of a cloud deployment, while minimizing the risks of a move to the cloud. A study by 451 Research concluded hosting and cloud services will be responsible for 34 percent of IT budgets in 2017, up from 28 percent in 2016. The research also concluded a huge chunk of the spending is diversifying away from infrastructure and moving towards application services, security and managed cloud services. The rapidly changing landscape of cloud computing creates a challenge for enterprises migrating from on-premise applications and data centers to cloud-based solutions. When you want to reap the benefits of the cloud without the administrative burden of maintaining and managing your own cloud deployment, a managed cloud provider may be the best solution.

As you struggle to establish the most ideal configuration of secure on-premise and cloud infrastructure that meets all your IT and business requirements, a managed service provider (managed cloud provider) can significantly reduce the burden of managing your cloud infrastructure, while offering security and technical expertise your IT staff may lack. The skilled resources a managed cloud service provider offers augment in-house IT infrastructure and functionalities to be managed in collaboration with third-party managed service providers via cloud platforms. There is a vast variety of managed cloud services available in multiple forms; from traditional outsourcing to modern out-tasking. They are typically available at an infrastructure level or/and applications and tools level. Some services included in the managed cloud services market include managed security operations, managed network operations, managed mobility, and IT life cycle management. Any company that works with managed cloud services must ensure the provider can meet all the needs that will guarantee their success.
Some factors that are crucial for a successful move into the cloud with a managed cloud service include:

I. Security

With IP theft spiraling to over 56 percent in 2016 and the average cost of breaches surpassing 2.5 million dollars per incident, CIOs from all industries have recognized the massive impact a lack of security can have on a business. Breaches not only cost customers and profitability but also affect the business’ overall reputation. Secure cloud deployments cannot exist without the right cloud security prowess. The question becomes whether an organization is more capable of protecting its data than a specialized provider. A specialized cloud security provider typically has the expertise and scale to hold off the constantly rising number of attacks and threats. According to the Crowd Research Partners 2016 Cloud Security Report, 45 percent of organizations surveyed planned to partner with a managed security services provider. The key to overcoming the cloud security hurdle is to outsource the headache and focus on your business.

II. Building Cloud Strategy

With so many cloud services, small and medium businesses (SMBs) need a partner who is familiar with your industry space and cloud options. Picking right set of cloud services and building a cloud strategy is the most important IT decision that a business will take in the next 5-10 years. A good MSP will consider organization’s current and future needs to match them with a right cloud vendor and technology. Additionally, they can ensure clients have flexibility in moving between vendors as the business evolves. Since most companies hybrid of applications and technology, MSPs can help with developing right mix of public, private and hybrid cloud that satisfies the business needs and growth. In addition to building technology road map, MSPs could also help companies develop right processes to launch, control, and maintain cloud solutions.

III. Data Transition

As data continues to increase, organizations look for new technologies that can help them retain a competitive edge. CIOs are utilizing managed cloud services as they strive towards a better understanding of the data ecosystem, knowing where their data is located, and who has access to it. The transition into the cloud is a crucial step in managed cloud services. Generally, the provider moves the clients’ infrastructure to a certified data center. However, in other cases, the infrastructure is installed locally with the client.
For the entire transition to happen smoothly and successfully, components must be delivered in working order. The ideal way to go about it is by ensuring the entire infrastructure requirements have been established from the moment of delivery. Expertise plays an important part in this. An adept managed service provider will easily adapt to this knowledge for any new project. Eventually, it becomes an issue of reducing any inconvenience the transition may cause. This can easily be avoided by carefully analyzing all the risks.

III. Value Addition

A crucial component of managed cloud services is value addition. The client must gain a practical benefit from the service. What is considered a value-add may change from client to client for example, deduplication may be useful to clients with large quantities of duplicated data, it would be immaterial to another client. The main metrics that can measure this is continuity and predictability. Transparency should also be upheld, so clients can clearly see how the tooling and service provision is improving their business every step of the way. Traditional outsourcing mainly dealt with taking over defined processes and tasks for long periods of time; the client and provider clearly described what services are provided and under what conditions. This traditional way of doing things primarily to reduce costs leaves little room for innovation. A good alternative is out-tasking. In this model, quality trumps costs. The managed cloud service provider will continue managing things, while holding onto an optimum infrastructure, while the client stays focused on their core business, leaving ample room for innovation and growth.

Due to the vast array of choices and options, it’s crucial for organizations to work with the right provider, who is in the best position to help guide their IT strategy and select the right solutions to serve all their business requirements.

Author: Gabriel Lando

Highlights and Insights from MSP conference – MSPWorld 2017


MSPWorld 2017, hosted by MSPAlliance, was our first time attending a Managed Service Providers (MSP) conference. Here are some highlights from the conference. The conference had 400+ participants, ~150 Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and a few vendors. Most of the MSP attendees were owners/CEO/COO with 10-15+ years of experience in running a managed services business. Talking to them, we realized most of them started their career and grew along Windows, offering wide range of services from backup, running CRM/ERP solutions, hosting exchange server etc.

Conference had many good sessions but the highlight was the keynote speaker – Rob O’Neill, former SEAL team six leader. He gave a very inspiring talk on being resilient and importance of maintaining focus even under extreme stress. He gave real-world examples from his SEAL training and his missions – he was part of Bin Laden and Captain Philips missions.

Major sponsors were cloud platform /marketplace companies such as IngramMicro, Pax-8 and security companies such as Kaspersky Labs, Symantec. These cloud platforms offer a market place where MSPs can create a bundle of many cloud services.  Pax-8 guys and girls were dressed up in flight jump suits, and called themselves ‘your cloud wingman’ (Pax-8 were awarded ‘Best in Show‘ by MSPAlliance).

Impact of Cloud on MSPs – Takeaways:

  • Role of MSPs is rapidly changing in world of cloud services. Traditional MSPs services are shifting to cloud based services
  • Even large cloud providers such as Microsoft are realizing that their direct sales effort to reach SMBs are not effective and these large companies are seeking MSP as a channel to sell their cloud services to SMBs
  • However, majority of MSPs weren’t fully clear about their cloud strategy and business model in the cloud. Some of the concerns included –
    • Shift in resource needs and organizational structure: Some heavy technical work such as server maintenance has moved to cloud providers (Microsoft, Amazon) hence they don’t need so many engineers (with $50+/hr salary). Instead, they need more support person who is bit technical (with much lower pay) to navigate through cloud services to configure cloud services, add users, security etc.
    • Business model changes: Instead of getting one large payment for installation/migration, cloud services will result in small monthly payments. Such a shift will impact financing and sales person commissions etc
    • Pricing: Given change in business model and technical value add, the traditional cost plus model might not work in cloud. Need a new pricing model
    • Cloud strategy: with so any cloud services, MSPs aren’t clear where to invest and what services to offer. Most of them are considering reselling Microsoft Office 365 but aren’t very clear beyond that.

We met many MSPs and presented how FileCloud enables them to run their own branded cloud storage, enterprise file sharing and sync solution. They were very excited to hear about high margins and white-label/branding options that FileCloud offers.

The conference was in New Orleans hence it added good flavor of food, drink and fun. Overall, it was a good mixture of learning, networking and fun. In the future, we will likely increase our presence in MSP conferences.

Here is a copy of the brochure that we handed at the conference. MSPWorld 2017 Brochure

Cloudy with a chance of Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

In today’s global economy, the demand for increased mobility, cost-effectiveness, agility and on-demand availability of IT solutions has become more apparent. To better serve their customers, enterprises are actively seeking more efficient ways to scale their compute resources. Over the last few years, cloud computing has climbed the priority list when it comes to meeting such demands. Setting money aside in the budget for cloud computing has become a staple for every company. The adoption of the cloud is visibly changing the way IT solutions are procured, financed, managed and sold. The only way stakeholders from both sides of the table can reap the full benefits of this new reality is to re-align their operations. The rapid pace of cloud adoption within the enterprise has forced managed service providers (MSPs) to reassert the value they add to their clients.

MSPs would have had an easier time addressing the issues surrounding the cloud a few years ago, especially when their customers were still asking what cloud computing is. The landscape has since changed, meaning enterprises are now serious about moving into the cloud, and they are pushing to make it happen. The key to understanding the impact that cloud computing has on managed services providers lies in understanding the difference between the two.

What exactly is the difference between CSPs and MSPs?

Briefly, a managed service provider typically oversees a client’s IT end-user systems and/or infrastructure on a proactive basis and under a subscription model. On the other side, a cloud service provider can be described as a technology company that installs and delivers cloud services to their end clients in the form of on-demand services like SaaS (software-as-a-service), PaaS (platform-as-a-service), or IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service).
An MSP will either be involved in some IT product reselling or IT projects. Once the hardware and any other related applications have been deployed on premise, the MSP charges a flat monthly fee to manage the deployed systems. The concept of managed service providers is believed to have stemmed from application service providers (ASPs), which provided companies with remote application hosting services. The emergence of ASPs eventually paved the way for IT companies that offered remote support for IT infrastructure. The services provided traditionally focused on the remote management and monitoring of servers and networks.

In a bid to differentiate themselves from other service providers, MSPs have now developed offerings more geared towards specialized niches. Managed security services providers, for example, offer services like remote firewall administration and other security-as-a-service offerings. MSPs can also be found in several different types of vertical markets. Industries such as health care, legal, and financial services are some of the markets that have shown an increased demand for managed service providers over the past two decades.

It is important to note that while most current managed service provider offerings are delivered in a hybrid cloud model, the term managed service provider cannot be used to mean that cloud services are being provided exclusively.

Does an MSP make sense in today’s business strategy?

If you are moving to the cloud, do you need an MSP? That is a question several IT pros face. The epigrammatic answer to that question is that an MSP can complement your cloud strategy in more ways than one. Having a partner that can help them generate more revenue is detrimental to any business. They are not only seeking ways to utilize technology more efficiently, but also more strategically. A business needs support to make its processes more agile so it can keep up with the changing pace of today’s business environment.

Managed service providers avow that the key to increasing margins with cloud services lie in delivering additional value. An MSP can resell a cloud product for MSRP (manufacturer suggested retail price) or more, but in the long run, there has to be some value addition associated with it, otherwise, what’s the point? The way MSPs deliver value is different for cloud-based services compared to traditional managed services. It is no longer a question of getting something to work; the challenge now becomes utilizing this new resource in a way that adds value to the end-client. CSPs typically roll out new features quickly, and some clients cannot keep up. A managed services provider can strategically position themselves to deliver value around services via change management, which is inclusive of training, adoption, and evangelization.

MSPs can act as an appurtenance, not just an alternative, to cloud computing by providing cloud connection or cloud integration services that allow IT to deploy assets in an amalgamation of cloud services and managed services. The MSP would, therefore, occupy the ‘management layer’ between the cloud and the enterprise.

 

Author: Gabriel Lando

Alternative to eFolder Anchor – Why FileCloud is better for Business File Sharing?

FileCloud vs eFolder Anchor

FileCloud competes with eFolder Anchor for business in the Enterprise File Sync and Share space(EFSS). Before we get into the details, I believe an ideal EFSS system should work across all the popular desktop OSes (Windows, Mac and Linux) and offer native mobile applications for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone. In addition, the system should offer all the basics expected out of EFSS: Unlimited File Versioning, Remote Wipe, Audit Logs, Desktop Sync Client, Desktop Map Drive and User Management.

The feature comparisons are as follows:

Features eFolder Anchor
On Premise
File Sharing
Access and Monitoring Controls
Secure Access
Document Preview
Document Edit
Outlook Integration
Role Based Administration
Data Loss Prevention
Web DAV
Endpoint Backup
Amazon S3/OpenStack Support
Public File Sharing
Customization, Branding
SAML Integration
Anti-Virus
NTFS Support
Active Directory/LDAP Support
Multi-Tenancy
API Support
Application Integration via API
Large File Support
Network Share Support
Mobile Device Management
Desktop Sync Windows, Mac, Linux Windows, Mac
Native Mobile Apps iOS, Android, Windows Phone iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Encryption at Rest
Two-Factor Authentication
File Locking
Pricing for 20 users/ year $999 Not Available

From outside looking-in, the offerings all look similar. However, the approach to the solution is completely different in satisfying enterprises primary need of easy access to their files without compromising privacy, security and control. The fundamental areas of difference are as follows:

Feature benefits of FileCloud over eFolder Anchor

Unified Device Management Console – FileCloud’s unified device management console provides simplified access to managing mobile devices enabled to access enterprise data, irrespective of whether the device is enterprise owned, employee owned, mobile platform or device type. Manage and control of thousands of iOS and Android, devices in FileCloud’s secure, browser-based dashboard. FileCloud’s administrator console is intuitive and requires no training or dedicated staff. FileCloud’s MDM works on any vendor’s network — even if the managed devices are on the road, at a café, or used at home.

Amazon S3/OpenStack Support Enterprise wanting to use Amazon S3 or OpenStack storage can easily set it up with FileCloud. This feature not only provides enterprise with flexibility to switch storage but also make switch very easily.

Embedded File Upload Website Form – FileCloud’s Embedded File Upload Website Form enables users to embed a small FileCloud interface onto any website, blog, social networking service, intranet, or any public URL that supports HTML embed code. Using the Embedded File Upload Website Form, you can easily allow file uploads to a specific folder within your account. This feature is similar to File Drop Box that allows your customers or associates to send any type of file without requiring them to log in or to create an account.

Multi-Tenancy Support – The multi-tenancy feature allows Managed Service Providers(MSP) serve multiple customers using single instance of FileCloud. The key value proposition of FileCloud multi-tenant architecture is that while providing multi-tenancy the data separation among different tenants is also maintained . Moreover, every tenant has the flexibility for customized branding.

NTFS Shares Support – Many organizations use the NTFS permissions to manage and control the access permissions for internal file shares. It is very hard to duplicate the access permissions to other systems and keep it sync. FileCloud enables access to internal file shares via web and mobile while honoring the existing NTFS file permissions. This functionality is a great time saver for system administrators and provides a single point of management.

Network Shares Support – FileCloud’s network share feature satisfies enterprise requirement of user/group specific access to folders. And, as files are already shared via network shares, no need for additional setup or products to buy. Moreover, FileCloud provides Active Directory & LDAP support along with NTFS permission support restricting access to network folders to just authorized users.

Conclusion

Based on our experience, enterprises that look for an EFSS solution want two main things. One, easy integration to their existing storage system without any disruption to access permissions or network home folders. Two, ability to easily expand integration into highly available storage systems such as OpenStack or Amazon S3.

eFolder Anchor neither provides OpenStack/Amazon S3 storage integration support nor NTFS share support. On the other hand, FileCloud provides easy integration support into Amazon S3/OpenStack and honors NTFS permissions on local storage.

With FileCloud, enterprises get a simple & straight forward pricing of $999 for 20 users per year.

Here’s a comprehensive comparison that shows why FileCloud stands out as the best EFSS solution.

Try FileCloud For Free & Receive 5% Discount

Take a tour of FileCloud

Common Problems Faced By MSPs (Managed Service Providers)

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The provision of managed services is undoubtedly one of the prime, lucrative ecommerce ventures in 2015.  There is an increasingly growing market base of organizations already contemplating and strategizing on integrating managed services to improve their overall IT operations. 43% of IT executives, including those who are yet to leverage managed services, are increasing their IT budgets to take advantage of optimized resources and subsequently boost the efficacy of their architectures. Overall, the average predicted budget increase in 2015 is 13.1%.

This trend is not only benefitting vendors and organizations adopting managed resources but also technology workers. With the number of jobs are expected to increase by 18% over the next 8 years, managed services are already stirring a lot of excitement in the industry, especially because the rate is considerably higher compared to 10.8% in other regular industries.

With such promising statistics, more entrepreneurs are expected to proceed investing in the industry. If you are one, it’s time you braced yourself for a market that requires strategic approaches and clinical executions of your stratagems. A simple miscalculated procedure could grant your competitors significant advantage over you, consequently risking the well-being of your entire business. You should therefore comprehend and prepare yourself for all the possible errors and challenges you are bound to encounter as you rollout your products. Here are some of the most common problems faced by MSPs:

Poor Marketing Programs

Since managed services are primarily tech based, the venture majorly attracts techno gurus with the requisite computer skills but insufficient knowledge on other critical business strategies, including marketing.

Marketing is arguably the single most critical strategy of creating product awareness for subsequent lead prospecting and conversion. Without it, an enterprise would quickly loose out to the competition. Unfortunately, many MSPs struggle with strategizing and running their marketing campaigns particularly during the roll out process.

The first step to countering this problem, of course, is getting rid of the “tech guy” mentality. Tech guys can also be great marketers- all it requires is quick comprehension of some basic marketing principles. Additionally, they can effortlessly leverage tech marketing tools like the internet (social media, search engines, etc) to engage prospective clients and convert them. Another helpful strategy is networking through your clients, peers and partners to create more business opportunities. To cap it all, you could consider outsourcing some of the larger marketing projects to third party professional marketing firms.

Constant Data Security Threats

According to a survey by Sonian on managed service providers, 68.2% of the companies are increasingly concerned about preserving valuable business data, and 54.5% are more focused on protecting IP from constant security threats, which include:

  • Data Loss
  • Data Breach
  • Shared Service Threats
  • Browser Threats
  • Inside Threats
  • Denial of Service
  • Unstable APIs
  • Account Hijacking

Each of these threats presents significant challenges not only to MSPs but also to reliant businesses. It’s therefore very important to install protective and countermeasures to detect and avert any risks before they develop into full blown attacks. You should also consider backing up all your data and setting up disaster management and recovery protocols to reduce the damages in case of an attack.

Unsuccessful Partnerships

95% of managed services providers acknowledge that successful partnerships form sustainable platforms to facilitate effective support, distribution and sale of their products. Unfortunately, a significant number of them find the process of successfully establishing symbiotic partnerships quite challenging. In most cases, the main reason is that willing prospective partners don’t have the requisite resources to support their corresponding MSPs’ strategic plans. Even when they find good potential partners, they are repelled by unfavorable terms of partnership.

The only effective way around this problem is taking your time as you review potential partnerships. Assess all the available prospective partners and their resources to ensure that they come with superior support, sales enablement tools and other critical product distribution and management tools. When you make up your mind on a suitable partner, discuss and draft symbiotic terms of agreement which are favorable to both of you.

Insufficient or Underused Staff

Staffing is not only a major problem to managed service providers, but also to other businesses. Although, normal operations are crippled due to either insufficient or underused staff, it goes unnoticed due to lack of standardized performance indicators. Most of the affected MSPs are yet to implement employee KPIs, and hence cannot correctly evaluate their state or performance. In other cases however, executive members are aware of their staff difficulties but a bit reluctant to implement the requisite correctional measures.

Although you can evaluate your staff simply by observing them over a long period of time, the most efficacious method of doing this is implementing key performance indicators on your entire work force. The automated system will track and analyze their individual and collective efforts vis-à-vis the targeted business standards and goals. Ultimately, you’ll be able to correctly determine the staff weaknesses in your MSP business and subsequent potential correctional measures. If your staff is insufficient for instance, you could outsource some of the less critical tasks to external workers to improve service delivery.

Despite being the most common problems, these challenges are not guaranteed on your business. You could evade them by carefully strategizing on every aspect of your organization. Additionally, since this list is not comprehensive on all the possible problems that could occur, you should be on the lookout for other challenges that could potentially reduce efficiency levels in your service delivery process.  The most reliable method of evading them is consulting an experienced MSP counterpart for pointers on how to effectually run your business.

Author: Davis Porter

Image Courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net, iosphere

Common Problems Experienced By Managed Service Providers

MSP mistakes
The provision of managed services is undoubtedly one of the prime, lucrative ecommerce ventures in 2015. There is an increasingly growing market base of organizations already contemplating and strategizing on integrating managed services to improve their overall IT operations. 43% of IT executives, including those who are yet to leverage managed services, are increasing their IT budgets to take advantage of optimized resources and subsequently boost the efficacy of their architectures. Overall, the average predicted budget increase in 2015 is 13.1%.

This trend is not only benefiting vendors and organizations adopting managed resources but also technology workers. With the number of jobs are expected to increase by 18% over the next 8 years, managed services are already stirring a lot of excitement in the industry, especially because the rate is considerably higher compared to 10.8% in other regular industries.

With such promising statistics, more entrepreneurs are expected to proceed investing in the industry. If you are one, it’s time you braced yourself for a market that requires strategic approaches and clinical executions of your stratagems. A simple miscalculated procedure could grant your competitors significant advantage over you, consequently risking the well-being of your entire business. You should therefore comprehend and prepare yourself for all the possible errors and challenges you are bound to encounter as you roll-out your products. Here are some of the most common ones:

Poor Marketing Programs

Since managed services are primarily tech based, the venture majorly attracts techno gurus with the requisite computer skills but insufficient knowledge on other critical business strategies, including marketing.

Marketing is arguably the single most critical strategy of creating product awareness for subsequent lead prospecting and conversion. Without it, an enterprise would quickly loose out to the competition. Unfortunately, many MSPs struggle with strategizing and running their marketing campaigns particularly during the roll out process.

The first step to countering this problem, of course, is getting rid of the “tech guy” mentality. Tech guys can also be great marketers- all it requires is quick comprehension of some basic marketing principles. Additionally, they can effortlessly leverage tech marketing tools like the internet (social media, search engines, etc) to engage prospective clients and convert them. Another helpful strategy is networking through your clients, peers and partners to create more business opportunities. To cap it all, you could consider outsourcing some of the larger marketing projects to third party professional marketing firms.

Constant Data Security Threats

According to a survey by Sonian on managed service providers, 68.2% of the companies are increasingly concerned about preserving valuable business data, and 54.5% are more focused on protecting IP from constant security threats, which include:

  • Data Loss
  • Data Breach
  • Shared Service Threats
  • Browser Threats
  • Inside Threats
  • Denial of Service
  • Unstable APIs
  • Account Hijacking

Each of these threats presents significant challenges not only to MSPs but also to reliant businesses. It’s therefore very important to install protective and countermeasures to detect and avert any risks before they develop into full blown attacks. You should also consider backing up all your data and setting up disaster management and recovery protocols to reduce the damages in case of an attack.

Unsuccessful Partnerships

95% of managed services providers acknowledge that successful partnerships form sustainable platforms to facilitate effective support, distribution and sale of their products. Unfortunately, a significant number of them find the process of successfully establishing symbiotic partnerships quite challenging. In most cases, the main reason is that willing prospective partners don’t have the requisite resources to support their corresponding MSPs’ strategic plans. Even when they find good potential partners, they are repelled by unfavorable terms of partnership.

The only effective way around this problem is taking your time as you review potential partnerships. Assess all the available prospective partners and their resources to ensure that they come with superior support, sales enablement tools and other critical product distribution and management tools. When you make up your mind on a suitable partner, discuss and draft symbiotic terms of agreement which are favorable to both of you.

Insufficient or Underused Staff

Staffing is not only a major problem to managed service providers, but also to other businesses. Although, normal operations are crippled due to either insufficient or underused staff, it goes unnoticed due to lack of standardized performance indicators. Most of the affected MSPs are yet to implement employee KPIs, and hence cannot correctly evaluate their state or performance. In other cases however, executive members are aware of their staff difficulties but a bit reluctant to implement the requisite correctional measures.

Although you can evaluate your staff simply by observing them over a long period of time, the most efficacious method of doing this is implementing key performance indicators on your entire work force. The automated system will track and analyze their individual and collective efforts vis-à-vis the targeted business standards and goals. Ultimately, you’ll be able to correctly determine the staff weaknesses in your MSP business and subsequent potential correctional measures. If your staff is insufficient for instance, you could outsource some of the less critical tasks to external workers to improve service delivery.

Despite being the most common problems, these challenges are not guaranteed on your business. You could evade them by carefully strategizing on every aspect of your organization. Additionally, since this list is not comprehensive on all the possible problems that could occur, you should be on the lookout for other challenges that could potentially reduce efficiency levels in your service delivery process. The most reliable method of evading them is consulting an experienced MSP counterpart for pointers on how to effectually run your business.

 Author: Davis Porter
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The Biggest Threats Experienced By Managed Service Providers

business threats to MSP

The business world is dynamic because of the many factors affecting and controlling it. Although you may be primarily focused on the prospective profits, it’s critically important to also factor in the losses, challenges and potential threats you may face as an individual and organization. Successful entrepreneurs acknowledge challenges and threats as one of the fundamental ingredients in a business recipe. Your finesse and tenacity in solving and evading them ultimately dictates your level of success.

Due to its dynamism, growing needs, uncertainty, and exponential growth, the managed service market is putting a lot of pressure on providers, which eventually results in business challenges, problems and threats. Some, as a matter of fact, could potentially damage an entire business, subsequently triggering a fallout. It’s therefore important to prepare yourself for them by comprehending each one, and consequently strategizing on counter measures which will ultimately boost your chances of dominating a US$117 billion market that’s still growing.

Here are some of the biggest threats which are already creating ripples among managed service providers:

Increasing BYOD Popularity

Carrying your own device to work or school has suddenly become a norm in most organizations. Employees can now shift tasks between their smartphones, tablets, home and workplace workstations. Of course they are all enjoying the flexibility and cost efficiency which comes with it, unfortunately, this privilege does not spread to their service providers- BYOD is creating all sorts of problems for MSPs.

If you’re wondering why, imagine a world without BYOD- of course it would be very inconvenient for customers but less difficult for MSPs. They would direct their resources only to single channel endpoint solutions development. No one would have to worry about additional complexities and security risks introduced by other networked endpoint devices.

The fact that hackers are particularly fond of leveraging such devices to infiltrate systems compels MSPs to develop multilayered security strategies to protect additional entry points. Without them, you risk severe security breaches which could potentially cripple your entire business.

Homogeneity

To provide comprehensive packages and attract a larger market, most MSPs partner with their counterparts to provide supplementary services. Although it’s a considerably efficacious approach, it could possibly harm your business especially if you are not particularly strategic on the moves you make.

A significant number of MSPs form blind partnerships with established counterparts by failing to pay attention to the actual terms and conditions.  As you streamline your products around the established partner’s channels, they will not restrict themselves to a single partnership. Instead, they’ll proceed to build others till their platforms are saturated. They’ll consequently retain partnerships with major carriers and shave off smaller ones- a move that could possibly be detrimental to your business.

Instead of subjecting your hard-built business to such risks, you’d rather work with MSPs on a “Powered By” provision. Through it, you’ll integrate your services into their toolbox and maintain your respective, distinct images.  Such an arrangement is not only complementary and transparent, but also saves you from serious losses and damages in case you are forced out of their channel.

Channel Conflicts

Carriers occasionally employ various tricks to bypass standard procedures and hijack their partners’ prime accounts. You may enter a lead, own, convert and develop it extensively into a large profitable account, but still lose it to your carrier when their internal team develops interest in it. Unfortunately, and rather strangely, this is not illegal since partnership contracts grant carriers the right of pulling accounts in-house and managing them.

Channel conflicts are also largely created by carriers who assign the same client opportunities to different MSPs. With many MSPs assuming their rights as they log client opportunities with their respective partners, they of course, never expect them to be opened up to other third party MSP partners. Unfortunately, in some cases, management problems arise and two partners end up sharing the same client opportunity on a single carrier. The resultant conflict creates a confusion, through which the carrier bypasses both partners and grabs the client. In most cases however, clients are lost in the process.

To avoid such conflicts, your business should only partner with carriers who have the relevant preventive mechanisms. The partnership contract you commit yourself to should be explicit and protective of your accounts and client opportunities.

Outdated Infrastructure

Since each service provider relies on a set of networked infrastructure to effectively distribute their products and support general operations, it should definitely be the top priority for MSPs. Setting it up and implementing relevant architecture is considered to be the biggest hurdle in building an MSP business, due to high hardware and software costs. Unfortunately, even after executing this step, the burden doesn’t just end there- infrastructural elements need to be occasionally checked, maintained and updated. That, of course, has to be fairly frequent because of the current exceedingly volatile tech trends- old technologies are consistently phased out, for more efficient but costlier solutions.

Many MSPs however, do not have the time and resources to keep up with such trends. They continue providing poorly optimized services on outdated infrastructures. Over time, they lose a majority of their clients to larger companies with superior, optimized infrastructures.

The most reliable method of containing such a threat is hiring an architect to regularly check and update your infrastructure according to your business needs and changing tech trends.

Since each business faces its own set of unique threats and challenges, this list in not exhaustive on all the possible risks which could derail your business operations. There are many others that you will face as you continue rolling out your products and establishing your brand. To avoid being caught off-guard, you should implement a business review strategy and streamline it according to your analytical and KPI systems- for informed decision making.

 Aurthor: Davis Porter

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