Cloud Managed Services (or Managed Cloud Services) are IT services that provide either partial or complete management of a client’s cloud computing infrastructure. This includes all aspects of the Cloud, such as cloud migration, server management, and configuration, as well other services such as platform optimization, including security, backups, and system maintenance.

The number of options available for cloud managed services may seem daunting at first, but consider that you can pick and choose the managed services that apply to your circumstances. You can opt for whatever cloud computing services will offer value to your business processes.

Let’s discover cloud managed services and learn their pros and cons. This article aims to give you the information you need to make an informed decision about cloud managed services.

What Is a Cloud Managed Service?

A cloud managed service is outsourcing the management of your cloud infrastructure to a provider. A managed cloud services provider offers unique services that allow your business to offload the IT responsibility to the provider. The aim is to free up your business resources so that you can focus on your applications and business processes and let the managed service provider handle the cloud infrastructure.

The services on offer concentrate on five key areas, including:

Infrastructure Management

Cloud providers are responsible for the core hardware of the cloud platform, such as the servers, storage, and network that power the environment. They are also responsible for the data center that hosts the cloud platform and local facilities like power and cooling.

When considering the scale of cloud platforms, this is no easy undertaking. It takes teams of experts to keep the platform running optimally.

Security and Compliance

Security services are multi-layered, starting with the data center’s physical security, including around-the-clock CCTV, access controls, etc. Security is also needed at the hardware layer; servers, storage, and networks must all be encrypted, security-hardened, and regularly updated. Next, you also have the application layer that protects your cloud native applications against DDoS, Intrusion Protection, and Threat Detection and meets any compliance needs.

Applications and End-User Support

The most common application supported is the Operating System; most providers will typically include server management that helps with Windows, Linux, or Unix Operating Systems. Some providers will also offer support with Antivirus and Backup applications. If you need support with bespoke applications, such as help with Office 365 or Adobe Creative Suite—check with your provider to ensure these applications are in scope.

When issues are encountered, having help available around the clock is essential. End User Support makes or breaks managed services. Check the small print for service level agreements and key performance indicator targets that the provider must reach to offer a greater level of service.

Cloud Services

A managed cloud platform is a complex, software-defined application managed in-house by teams of experts. The MSP is responsible for ensuring the cloud services are online 24/7. Whether the cloud platform is a public, private, or hybrid environment, the provider of hosted service is responsible for its availability.

Backups and Disaster Recovery

Backups are one of the most popular managed cloud services available. Every business needs to back up critical data. The backup schedules will vary, but at minimum, you should backup at least every 24 hours. It is recommended to follow the principle of a 3-2-1 backup strategy.

What Are Some Typical Cloud Managed Service Examples?

Let’s deep dive and discover more about specific services from cloud managed services providers, in particular, cloud migration services and professional services :

Cloud Migration Services

Not every business has taken the plunge into the public cloud yet, and doing so may seem like an impossibly complicated task. Let a managed public cloud services provider like Atlantic.Net remove this burden with our Cloud Migration Service.

The migration is the end-to-end process of moving your existing systems into the cloud. Sometimes, it’s a simple case of lifting and shifting your workload onto a cloud instance. Complications arise when considering business-critical systems such as enterprise-grade databases and application servers.

This is how the service works:

Discovery: An assessment of the current infrastructure will help when creating a migration plan. The plan identifies services that can be moved quickly and pinpoint any potential hiccups, allowing a road map for migration. Remember, sometimes a server or service is unsuitable for a cloud deployment or migration; in these circumstances, we will work with you to determine a new cloud-ready solution.

Preparation: Next, it’s time to prepare the existing infrastructure for its cloud journey. This involves tweaking core network and security settings and prepping your data for its journey to the public cloud. This step will involve creating a site-to-site VPN, and a plan will be finalized to determine the order in which services will be migrated.

Migration: It’s time to move your apps and data. This could be done via a phased approach or a big bang (all in one go), depending on your business requirements.

Thorough Testing: Testing is needed at each migration step to ensure everything runs smoothly. This includes checking for functional, load, and security issues. All self-service functions should undergo testing, and if you opt for managed services, make sure those options get tested, too.

Optimization: Sometimes called ‘cloudification,’ this step involves fine-tuning your new cloud environment to ensure it’s optimized for the latest cloud platform. Streamlining operations and maximizing business continuity is essential to ensure all your services are up and running as they should be.

Ongoing Support: Once everything’s up and running, you’ll want ongoing support for your cloud environment. Your managed cloud services provider should monitor things, provide updates on cloud security, and troubleshoot any problems.

Remember, the right cloud-managed services provider can make all the difference when migrating cloud services. Look for a provider that will manage as much of the process as possible.

Consulting and Professional Services

Check if your managed cloud service provider offers consulting and professional services as part of their managed cloud service providers’ packages. One of the biggest appeals of managed cloud services is the ability to tap into the provider’s skills and knowledge.

Sometimes, your business might be presented with a technical problem that must be solved. Unfortunately, not all businesses possess the right skills to do this in-house. However, when outsourcing cloud management, you can access their professional services and expert help with your cloud deployments.

Professional services offer a hands-on and involved approach to implementing and managing hybrid cloud environments on-native applications and infrastructure. Expert engineers help businesses deploy, configure, and operate cloud native resources such as servers, storage, and databases. They also provide ongoing support and maintenance to ensure the cloud or hybrid cloud deployments are optimized and up-to-date.

Cloud consulting and professional services benefit business strategy by offering organizations additional resources to make informed decisions about their chosen cloud strategy.

Pros and Cons of Managed Cloud Services

So, what are the benefits of cloud managed services? Are there any drawbacks? Here, we will explore the pros and cons to help you make a balanced argument about cloud-managed services.

Resource Optimization

A key service is performance monitoring of your cloud resources. This is when a probe or agent polls your systems for vital system information. Typically, it includes CPU, disk, and RAM, but it can be configured to report on pretty much any logged variable.

MSPs provide detailed reports about the state of your infrastructure, and the ability to see the system history helps you discover bottlenecks or areas for improvement. Based on these reports, you can also introduce scaling to improve system stability during peak periods.

Integration with Cloud Services

Another key benefit is that managed services allow you to consume other cloud services on demand. For example, whether you have VPS hosting, dedicated hosting, a cloud-based solution, or a colocation suite, you can integrate and manage the server via a control panel and integrate additional services on demand—common examples include backups, snapshots, block storage, and assigning new IP address ranges.

Predictable Costs

Finance teams prefer it when IT departments run with a predictable operational expenditure (OPEX). Managed service fits perfectly here because MSPs use tiered subscription-based billing. The most common is on-demand billing, where you only pay for what you use, and because you know the costs in advance, it’s easy to predict your monthly expenditure.

There are no hefty outgoings for procuring expensive servers, storage, and networking. You simply plug into the cloud provider or system and use it as needed. You can expect discounted rates for 1- to 3-year commitments for greater flexibility.

Automatic Upgrades

The MSP is responsible for cloud-based solutions, and one significant perk is that they manage all the upgrades needed on the host hardware and software. You simply don’t need to worry about it. If you have opted for server management services, the provider will even patch your operating system and applications for you automatically.

Network Security

Opting for a managed service gives you instant access to a security-defined network architecture created from the ground up to be secure. Get instance access to encrypted network traffic, VPN connectivity, elastic IP addresses, managed network firewalls, web application firewalls, and the security offered by a segregated network.

Disaster Recovery Capabilities

DR and business continuity are vital for businesses that need guaranteed uptime in the event of a disaster. DR occurs when the core primary systems fail over to a replica set at a secondary location. DR is usually a paid-for add-on because it’s very expensive to implement and requires a skilled team of professionals to manage and test the service at regular intervals (usually twice per year).

24x7x365 Technical Support

Having the required help available when an incident occurs can be a game changer for your business. Support teams monitor your servers around the clock and provide proactive and reactive support as needed. They are also available around the clock via phone or email.

High Cost

One possible negative is that managed services can prove expensive, especially if you tick every option box. Disaster recovery and server management typically cost the most because of the people’s power needed to support the infrastructure.

Concerns of Multi-Tenant Model

Some providers offer private cloud-managed services that are essentially large-scale virtual clusters with multiple customers spread out over the system, and this might have potential security implications in the event a 0-day exploit is discovered.

How Do I Know If I Need a Managed Cloud Service Provider?

If you have an IT hosting contract, consider whether a managed service would make your life easier and business operations more successful. Ask yourself these questions; if you answer yes to any of them, then perhaps managed cloud services are a good idea for your business.

  • Do you lack IT expertise?
  • Are you concerned about your IT security?
  • Do you often experience downtime?
  • Are you struggling to manage your cloud environment?
  • Do you need to introduce cost savings?

If your in-house IT teams are small, you may miss vital skills needed to manage your environment. Likewise, a managed security service provider can help you implement and maintain strong security measures to protect your data and applications while introducing cost savings.

How Do I Choose a Managed Cloud Services Provider?

Finding a managed cloud service provider (MCSP) that fits your needs is crucial. Make sure they know your cloud platform and have the certifications to prove it.

You want a provider that takes security seriously, with things like encryption and regular security checks in place. And if your business has compliance needs, such as HIPAA, PCI, or GDPR, make sure they know about that, too.

Make sure their services match what you need, whether it’s help with moving to the Cloud, ongoing support, or ensuring everything keeps running smoothly. And it’s essential they can grow with you, so check they can handle your needs as your business expands.

Want to know more? Transform your cloud management experience with Atlantic.Net’s comprehensive Cloud Managed Services, offering expert support, robust security measures, and scalable solutions tailored to your business needs. Contact the team today.