Cloud computing infrastructure has taken the world by storm. According to Statista, cloud computing generated nearly 400 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2021 and is showing very few signs of slowing down. Now, over 60% of corporate data is stored in the cloud—which is astounding considering modern cloud computing started in 2006.
Although many business leaders are ready to go all in on the cloud, it is challenging for companies to make the most out of their cloud infrastructure and drive the growth they need. This is often due to inelastic existing infrastructure, limited agility, time-consuming operations, and extensive maintenance responsibilities. Additionally, hiring skilled cloud experts is difficult and expensive, while the learning curve for existing staff is significant. As digital environments continue to evolve and increase in complexity, these problems will become exacerbated.
So, what’s to be done? Enter: managed cloud services. At their core, managed cloud service providers allow companies to outsource key operations or augment certain capabilities in order to achieve maximum efficiency, security, and scalability in cloud environments.
To shine a light on managed cloud services and all they offer, InterVision’s cloud experts came together to answer common questions and provide additional insight into how businesses can maximize the benefits of cloud technology. In this post, we will cover:
- What is a cloud managed service? And why would you need them?
- What is the difference between a managed service provider and a cloud service provider?
- What is the importance of managed cloud services? And what are the benefits?
- What are the types of managed cloud services?
- How do managed cloud services impact security?
- How does a company choose the right managed cloud service provider?
What Are Managed Cloud Services?
In simple terms, managed cloud services function to offload the management of your cloud infrastructure. But why would a business need these services? Here are a few critical challenges managed cloud services solve.
In-House Operations Can’t Keep Up | Unfortunately, in-house cloud management often inhibits the ability to support strategic growth initiatives and identify business differentiators. An in-house solution is also much more difficult to scale. This lack of scalability makes it challenging and impractical to add more storage, newer products, or smarter software.
Hiring Is Harder Than Outsourcing | Most businesses do not have the extensive expertise or available staff to effectively navigate and manage their cloud environments. This can cause many significant operational issues, including:
- Migration failure
- Loss of network visibility (which can lead to increases in service usage costs)
- Increased vulnerability due to inadequate security
- Lack of compliance
Although cloud technology is extremely powerful, without skilled architects and engineers—who are currently in short supply—it’s impossible to properly utilize and optimize the cloud. Even if your business already has a stellar cloud architect, technical talent is hard to attract and retain. Managed cloud services fill these staffing gaps so risks can be avoided and greater innovation is achieved.
Security Issues Run Rampant | The nature of a public cloud model makes it difficult to ensure the safety of company and customer data, orchestrate security, detect anomalies, and recognize unauthorized access. Staffing, knowledge, and skill gaps put everyone at risk for harmful breaches. Using managed cloud services mends these gaps and ensures greater protection for all.
Legacy Solutions Are Difficult to Migrate | Migrating legacy workloads and servers from on-prem to the cloud is a very complex and delicate process. Migrations are basically full-time jobs, and grave consequences await should details fall through the cracks. Having managed cloud services take the reins on these special projects will ensure that legacy and cloud solutions form a perfect union. Managed cloud services can help you ensure that any cloud resources you choose are smoothly connected to your existing systems. They can also help guarantee that employees, users, and applications can access resources without issue.
The Point Is…
Ultimately, cloud services are the way of the future and the companies who get it right stand to reap significant rewards. However, if cloud services are not managed properly, these benefits are not guaranteed and significant risks persist. To successfully mitigate challenges, businesses should enlist the help of a responsive and expert managed cloud services partner who can:
- Fully grasp nuanced operational and business needs
- Provide in-depth insight and cloud expertise
- Deliver quick and effective full-scale solutions
What Is the Difference Between Cloud and Managed Services?
The difference between regular IT managed services vs cloud services is simple. Managed cloud services offer a specialized form of IT managed services. In a broad sense, IT managed services allow companies to outsource the responsibility of maintaining, managing, and innovating various IT functions and duties. The ultimate goal of any managed service is to improve operations, foster greater innovation, and eliminate the need to hire additional team members or force extra responsibilities on directly-employed staff. Managed cloud services apply this same purpose to all operations and tasks associated with cloud computing infrastructure.
Why Is Cloud Managed Services Important?
When it comes to cloud managed services, Gartner states that the growth of managed cloud services “will be driven by organizations demanding agility and support of increasingly complex digital environments.” This gets to the core of why managed cloud services are so crucial in today’s digitally dominated business atmosphere.
It all comes down to innovation. Sure, many businesses have adopted cloud technology, but many are not using it effectively. A poorly managed cloud infrastructure ultimately takes time away from strategic initiatives and inhibits businesses from experiencing the full benefits of the cloud. But by using managed cloud services, companies can reduce day-to-day operational burdens to accelerate cloud adoption and innovation. Managed cloud services are a powerful catalyst for digital growth and innovation, and people are catching on. In fact, the managed cloud services market is forecast to reach $102 billion in 2025.
What Are the Benefits of Cloud Management?
The benefits of cloud managed services are extensive and apply to all businesses, regardless of industry. Here are a few of our favorites:
Better Manage Staffing and After-Business-Hours Support | Providing 24/7 support is a must in today’s hyper-competitive and globally connected business atmosphere. However, using existing staff to work after-hour support shifts often leads to increased burnout and causes those valuable employees to pack up their desks and leave. A managed cloud services solution offers businesses 24/7 support for their cloud environments which prevents companies from needing to hire additional staff or placing undue pressure on their current workforce. This also results in a more affordable solution—if you factor in the high costs associated with recruiting and onboarding top cloud talent.
Ensure Adherence To Best Practices for Cloud Platforms | The top cloud platforms support the Well-Architected Framework. This framework delineates various best practices to ensure a cloud environment meets standards related to:
- Operational excellence
- Comprehensive security
- Performance efficiency
- Cost optimization
Managed cloud services provide companies with a dedicated team of specialists who are all well-versed in the latest and greatest conventions related to cloud environments. For example, InterVision’s team of dedicated cloud experts evaluate how your cloud environment stacks up and ensure that it matches the most up-to-date recommended practices. We also perform remediation activities along with a Well-Architected Review to cover all proverbial bases.
Start Application Development in the Cloud | Many organizations lack the expertise needed to optimize existing in-cloud applications and build new tools. But by enlisting the help of a managed cloud services provider, development teams can easily create native apps with consistent experiences across the cloud. Many managed cloud services are capable of providing expert guidance related to managing development tools and Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, which can speed up development and increase the reliability of your finished applications.
Adopt Additional Cloud-Native Technologies | Acquiring cloud-native technologies increases efficiencies and mitigates overhead costs by reducing development time and achieving higher-quality applications. Unfortunately, many companies do not have the expertise and know-how required to operate these technologies internally. Using a managed cloud service provider, companies don’t need to worry about navigating the complexities of cloud-native technologies. From microservices to auto-scaling, a managed cloud services solution can cover it all.
Types of Cloud Managed Services
Not all managed cloud services have the same capabilities. Most often, managed cloud services handle management responsibilities related to cloud configuration, optimization, migration projects, integration, security, and ongoing maintenance. Here is what you can expect from an end-to-end solution, like InterVision.
Better Support | With managed cloud services, you can pass on routine operational support of your cloud environment to outsourced experts and give your internal teams time to focus on bigger and better projects.
Streamline Automation | An automated cloud is a happy cloud. Managed cloud services allow you to automate your cloud environment with infrastructure as code. This stops developers from wasting their valuable time manually managing servers, operating systems, storage, and other infrastructure components every time an application is deployed or developed.
Support DevOps | DevOps has their hands full. With managed cloud services, DevOps teams receive managed automation support to streamline improvements in the software development process.
Try Different Architectures | Progress, change, and innovation are all easier to achieve with managed cloud services. With expert guidance and support, companies can quickly and effectively adopt and deploy modern container-based and serverless architectures.
Maintain Compliance | As technology guidelines and laws continue to evolve, compliance becomes even more difficult to navigate. Managed cloud services make it easier to stay afloat in a sea of constant change. By monitoring and alerting teams to configuration changes and vulnerabilities, managed cloud services help companies achieve and maintain compliance.
Achieve Greater Transparency | The extra support gleaned from managed cloud services helps to increase visibility into the management of utilization and cost.
Limit Spending | From general cloud operations costs to expensive migrations, hiring managed cloud services reduces costs with comprehensive cost optimization tools, which can save businesses 30% or more on monthly Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud spending.
Stay Secure | Managed cloud services ensure your security framework is strong and comprehensive by providing workload protection on virtual machines, file security storage, and more.
What Are the Five Areas of Cloud Security? How Do Managed Cloud Services Apply?
The four areas of cloud security tend to change depending on who you ask—a secure cloud looks different for everyone. That being said, it’s worthwhile to look to established guidelines and best practices for guidance when assessing your cloud security.
For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) outlines five pillars that should be accounted for when establishing secure and sustainable cloud computing framework:
NIST created each of these steps to help organizations assess security preparedness and prescribe appropriate preventative and detection protocols to all systems, including cloud environments. These five pillars were decided using cloud security posture management (CSPM) principles, which are loosely outlined in NIST’s SP 800-128 documentation. CSPM acts as a set of guidelines to help organizations address one of the most challenging security flaws in cloud environments—misconfigurations.
Cloud misconfiguration is the number one threat to cloud security. In one shocking misconfiguration nightmare, a large defense contractor exposed sensitive National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) data and authentication credentials in publicly accessible cloud storage.
To eliminate the risk of misconfiguration, managed cloud services mitigate security risks through best practices and certified experts so that every attack surface is effectively monitored. At InterVision, we offer the following cloud security solutions to help our customers avoid various security risks, including misconfiguration:
- Security assessment tools
- Cloud policy tools
- Configuration management tools
- Misconfiguration monitoring, alert systems, and detection processes
- Custom evaluation of best practices adoption
- Consulting and remediation services for remedying existing issues
- Action plans for establishing guardrails
- AWS organization and configuration
- Azure and AWS policy expertise
If you want to learn more about cloud security best practices and how managed cloud services fit in, check out InterVision’s latest white paper!
What Are Examples of Managed Services for the Cloud?
Currently, three main players remain the dominant forces in the cloud infrastructure arena—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Together, these three services accounted for 62% of total cloud spend in the first quarter of 2022. Since our team of experts specialize in AWS and Azure, we’ll discuss how managed cloud services can be applied to both of these cloud environments.
What Is Managed Services in AWS?
AWS deployments continue to grow in size and increase in complexity. This causes many companies to hire multiple consultants for network optimization, security, and cost control. Hiring multiple consultants quickly becomes unwieldy and inefficient, which leads to security issues and other intense challenges further down the line. Using managed cloud services for AWS simplifies your AWS deployments and helps you stay on top of what is important. Certified AWS experts serve as an extension of your existing team, and assist with various processes like:
- Change management
- Patch management
- Internal support
- Backup services
- Automation assistance
- Cost optimization
- Risk assessment and prevention
What Is Managed Services in Microsoft Azure?
Like AWS, Azure is a powerful tool. It combines IoT, edge, and AI to solve various business and operational problems. But, similar to AWS, Azure’s ecosystem is ever-changing. With its expanding service options and frequent updates, you need several experienced Azure specialists if you want to truly leverage the best of its capabilities. But this specialized kind of talent is hard to source, and expensive to retain—the average salary of a Microsoft Azure Specialist is $115,838, according to ZipRecruiter. With managed cloud services, businesses have easy access to invaluable Azure expertise, eliminating the need to hire more in-house talent, and minimizing total cloud spend. Azure managed cloud services providers offer valuable services such as:
- Optimizing existing Microsoft Azure deployments
- Streamlining the deployment process
- Supporting priority applications
- Assisting planning and cloud readiness
- Reducing operational costs
Choosing the Right Cloud Managed Service Provider
In any managed services relationship, choosing the right partner is the most critical step. Unfortunately, not all cloud managed services companies are created equal. When selecting a managed cloud services partner, it’s important to understand the difference between a solution provider vs service provider. Managed cloud solution providers usually offer specialized services for specific tech tasks, rather than long-term digital transformation strategies and ongoing maintenance solutions.
A managed cloud service provider offers a more comprehensive range of services and offers access to various cloud Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). This approach helps businesses develop a more holistic and complete approach to their cloud infrastructure. In other words, a solution provider solves many operational and business problems and ensures that your cloud infrastructure brings continuous value.
Before selecting any managed cloud services provider, you should ask the following questions:
- What is their partner status with your cloud provider?
- How large is their practice, and what talent mix do they offer?
- What certifications and experience do they have?
- Will their solutions and services support your specific needs?
- Is end-to-end support available?
- How do they optimize cloud spend?
Managed Cloud Services Provider Checklist
Using a checklist can also help you determine if a managed cloud services provider is the right fit for your business. InterVision created a checklist of the most desirable services and capabilities a managed cloud service provider should offer.
- Mitigate professional risk.
- Accelerate innovation initiatives by focusing on strategy rather than operations.
- Mitigate the risks of cloud adoption through best practices and certified expertise.
- Meet your cloud-first objectives faster and more efficiently.
- Address staffing challenges
- Get support from certified experts 24×7.
- Benefit from a deep bench – stop worrying about hiring, training, and retaining.
- Tap into cost-effective resources. Focus on key business initiatives.
- Allow key staff to focus on business initiatives by taking operations off their plate.
- Train and focus staff on driving business rather than “keeping the lights on” in the cloud.
- Enable the business to become faster, more flexible, and agile.
- Contain business risk.
- Reduce the risk of uncontrolled costs through managed FinOps.
- Mitigate security risks through best practices and certified experts.
- Get access to cloud benefits (scale and cost savings) faster.
Learn More About the Benefits of Cloud Service Providers
As a leader in the managed cloud services realm, InterVision works hard to develop new methods for eliminating the heavy lifting of cloud operations and delivering strategic guidance to empower businesses. If you would like to learn more about cloud services or managed IT and network services, explore our various resources!
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