From March 2020 the operating world of SMB’s has changed in a fundamental way. They can now be closed- down by governments at a moment’s notice, staff asked to work from home and their customers/markets can practically collapse in a matter of days.
This new reality brings challenges to business owners/ executives such as:
- To let go staff or wait for government assistance to finally arrive
- How to manage staff working from home and monitor their decisions
- Manage security of systems with hackers keen to exploit any vulnerabilities that arise from the ongoing chaos and instability.
- Do you build business back up only to be told to close or stay at home again by government?
Due to this uncertainty most SMB’s will adopt a cautious and conservative approach going forward which will include:
- Not wanting to take on full time staff
- Looking to reduce costs from all departments
- Hibernating certain IT systems until operating conditions improve
Next Generation MSP’s
Typically, being cheaper to run than employing full time staff Next Generation MSP’s may be a logical choice for the new reality of uncertainty. Many employers also see them as an important component of their Risk Mitigation Strategies. A third-party provider continues operation in the event staff are sick or unable to work from the office.
Read on to understand how Next Generation MSP’s work and the advantages they can offer.
Day to Day Running (Legacy vs Next Generation)
Legacy Systems – with Legacy systems you have a number of factors to consider – first of all Physical security such as Biometric access and Staff checks – this is all more of a challenge now with the current Pandemic where staff don’t want to travel or go in to a data center.
There are also concerns about protecting your IT systems whether on premises or data center – connectivity, power continuity and cooling plus protection from fires and flood.
Planning also must include what to do in event of hardware failure or when devices come to end of life – it is becoming harder to replace certain equipment. Negotiations also need to take place with vendors for new hardware.
Next Generation Cloud – the focus shifts from hardware to designing / architecting and automating infrastructure. Solutions are software and API based in order to improve the customer experience.
Hardware vs Cloud Solutions
Legacy Systems revolve around the data center or premises and logistical challenges. Hardware supply chains can impact decisions / SLA’s for example sudden growth of clients can be difficult to service immediately if there are long lead times to order and implement hardware. Likewise, a sudden fall in business does not mean that Hardware costs can be reduced as often they are fixed over a certain period.
Next Generation Cloudis software focused and if it is architected correctly has a big benefit of elasticity. For example, as Cloud is pay as you go it is typically a lower upfront cost than Legacy. Systems can be hibernated, and costs reduced if sales fall and likewise high growth can be accommodated by resizing systems in a matter of hours / days.
Service Level Agreements
Legacy system SLA’s revolve around the device (hardware) while Cloud is Solution / Application based.
Cloud provider SLA’s are 99.999% (the “five nines”) with service credits being offered to clients in the unlikely event they are not achieved.
Next generation MSPS can offer additional Stack Support and 24/7 support if your Application or Systems are mission critical with ticket support systems that offer SLA’s depending on the severity of the outage.
Change Management and Agility
Legacy systems are usually based on complex manual procedures while Next generation MSP’s focus on DevOps automation. An Agile methodology is applied to the creation and maintenance of Infrastructure which is often deployed as Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC). Benefits of this approach are rapid response ability to change use requests, configuration tracking and reproducibility.
Enhanced System Monitoring
System Monitoring in a Legacy system can be limited in nature. We have often seen performance issues with applications which tend to resolve once moved to a more flexible infrastructure that can be tweaked to optimize performance parameters within a matter of hours.
Here are the types of monitoring you can expect from Next Generation MSP’s:
- Server resources such as CPU, Memory, Storage
- Database resources including I/O
- Firewall and Network logs
- Bandwidth in and out metrics
- Global service uptime checks
- Centralized view of system health
- Anomaly detection with Machine Learning
- Alarm triggers based on key metrics
Backup and Recovery
With Legacy Systems these are usually one of the toughest items to plan for – back-ups are kept off site along with DR options. Back Ups often must be done by staff after hours or weekends when systems are down.
Cloud brings new possibilities with the ability to back up systems with near zero downtime, reliable server image backups and automated backup archiving at low cost. We now see sophisticated database failover models and many disaster recovery options can be in real time.
Cloud can also provide cloned environments for development and testing – isolating your production from the above adds obvious security and operational benefits.
Security in the Cloud
With Legacy systems the focus of security is the hardware components such as physical load balancers that need to have patching up to date and logins that are potential security red flags. Other aspects are centred around Data Centre access.
With Cloud there are substantial differences with Cloud Providers being responsible for security of the cloud and customers responsible for in the Cloud. Providers networks are architected to protect your information, identities, applications and devices as well as achieving third party validation for thousands of global compliance requirements.
Next Generation MSP’s can incorporate security including:
- Vulnerability Scanning and Compliance
- Network and Firewall Security
- Edge Network protection
- Web Application Firewalls (OWASP, Custom Rules, Geo Filters)
- OS Vulnerability protection
- Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
- Threat Protection Layers
Cost Savings and ROI
Legacy models are often based on purchasing equipment which is subsequently amortized over several years. Cloud pricing is based on a “pay as you go pricing model” with discounts for longer term commitments. ROI can be boosted with the ability / elasticity to hibernate environments or ramp up quickly to service new clients / markets.
A typical Cloud Engineer salary is $100,000 (source Indeed.Com) – add in benefits, sickness benefits and usual employee remittances and an employer’s bill can easily be $120,000 per annum. MSP’s are typically cheaper and can also give an employer the opportunity to re-deploy existing staff. Some sources estimate that savings can be between 25 / 50%.
Summary – Benefits of Next Generation MSP’s
- Cheaper then employing full time specialist IT staff.
- Cloud systems can be hibernated to reduce costs or ramped up.
- No contact required – trips to data centers or offices.
- Third party can manage your systems in the event staff are sick or working from home.
- More secure from hacks/ransomware.
- Additional full stack options can be available
- Ability to back-up/Disaster Recovery Scenarios