Managed Cloud Services: Pros and Cons

Managed cloud services provide partial or complete cloud management for public environments, as well as Hybrid IT . Each managed cloud service provider (MCSP) offers a different value, taking care of certain aspects. MCSP responsibilities may include migration, optimization, security, configuration, and optimization. Typical advantages of MCSPs are resource optimization, cloud integration, and flat, predictable spending. However, MCSPs costs are often high, performance is not ideal, and multi-tenancy may lead to data protection issues.

In this article you will learn:

What Are Managed Cloud Services?

Managed cloud services are services that offer partial or complete management of a client’s cloud resources or infrastructure. Management responsibilities can include migration, configuration, optimization, security, and maintenance. These services are designed to enable organizations to maximize benefits from cloud services while minimizing internal time and costs.

You can access managed cloud services for public, private, and hybrid clouds at any point in the cloud adoption lifecycle. Often, organizations will contract for services before migration to gain help determining which cloud resources best suit their needs and to ensure that configuration is performed correctly.

What Is a Managed Cloud Service Provider (MCSP)

An MCSP is a vendor that offers managed cloud services. These managed cloud providers could be directly connected to the cloud resources that you are using or a third-party operator. Managed cloud providers typically offer subscription offerings for a wide range of services. Managed cloud service providers can serve as a replacement for in-house cloud IT or as a supplement to in-house teams.

Pros and Cons of Cloud Managed Services Providers

If you are considering working with a managed service provider in the cloud, there are several pros and cons you may want to consider. These aspects may not change your decision but understanding these traits can help you ensure that you can get the most from any provider you choose.

Pros of MCSPs

The benefits you can gain vary by provider and your individual cloud configuration. However, benefits typically include:

Resource optimization

MCSPs can help you determine the services that best fit your workloads. They can also help you understand which pricing models are the most cost-efficient for your needs and how you can configure services to optimize performance while minimizing costs. Many vendors can also provide clear reports or performance metrics for your existing resources and suggestions for improving configurations.

Integrating cloud services

Integration support is a significant benefit of MCSPs, especially if you are trying to create a hybrid or multi-cloud environment. Hybrid clouds combine on-premises and cloud resources and multi-clouds combine cloud services from multiple providers. These environments often require more complex configuration than single-cloud or cloud-only deployments.

MCSPs 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.

Flat, predictable spending

Many MCSPs use a tiered, subscription system of support to meet a range of needs. This provides greater flexibility for your budgets and can help you ensure that you are only spending what you expect each month.

Additionally, some providers allow you to use a credit system for services. This enables you to access more support during times of high demand in exchange for lower support during slower periods. This is ideal for organizations with fluctuating or seasonal schedules. For example, tax or audit companies.

Cons of MCSPs

Despite the benefits, there are some cons to working with an MCSP. Some to watch out for include:

High cost

Although billing may be predictable, hiring an MCSP does add to your cloud budget. Depending on the level of services you get and the complexity of your systems, provider services can be substantial. This is offset by reduced spending on in-house resources and optimization of cloud resource costs. However, if you have not carefully calculated your budget to account for this, you can end up spending more than you intend.

Optimization at the expense of performance

Often, optimizing cloud resources means using lower data storage tiers or lower performance options. For a lot of data and applications this is fine but for some it can create issues. If providers do not carefully prioritize assets you may find that your data is slower to access or that processes take longer than expected.

Because of this, it is important that you thoroughly discuss with your provider the impacts of any “optimizations” they suggest or make. Once decisions are in place you should also verify that the results meet your needs and arrange changes if necessary.

Multi-tenancy raises security and privacy risks

Cloud MSPs, like public cloud services in general, use a multi-tenant model. This means that providers are responsible for many customers at once and that the data of all customers is stored in one location.

As long as providers have strict security measures in place, this shouldn’t cause an issue. However, your system might be affected by another customer’s if they don’t. For example, if an MCSP is handling a migration and accidentally uploads the wrong data. To avoid this, you need to carefully review the security measures your provider uses and take steps to ensure that your data is as protected as possible.

Key Considerations When Choosing a Managed Cloud Service Provider

Deciding which MCSP is right for you can be a challenge. Many providers seem to offer the same services and if you are new to cloud services you may not understand what aspects are most important. Below are a few considerations you should keep in mind when reviewing your MCSP options.

Skills and expertise

Any provider you choose needs to be familiar both with the cloud services you intend to use and business operations. This means understanding industry best practices, knowing how to integrate any critical tooling or applications you have, and being able to adapt or optimize your workflows for cloud resources.

A few questions that are helpful to ask include:

  • What cloud services they are familiar with and how they are trained on these services
  • What sorts of organizations do they primarily serve
  • How familiar are they with your industry’s tooling or workflows

Security and compliance

Security and compliance should be at the top of your list when it comes to evaluating MCSPs. These components are some of the most difficult for organizations to manage. The right provider can help you ensure significant improvements over what you might be able to create on your own.

A few questions that are helpful to ask include:

  • What security expertise and experience do provider teams have, including certification level.
  • What compliance regulations does the provider specialize in and does it offer services to audit compliance.
  • What security measures are they taking to secure client data and access from being compromised through their access (i.e. an attacker comes through them).
  • Do they provide any built-in security solutions?

Learn about cloud compliance in our guides: Continuous Data Protection and GDPR Data Protection.

Transparency and control

Relying on an MCSP to manage your cloud resources requires a lot of trust. These providers generally have full access to your data and the functionality of your cloud services may rely entirely on them. Because of this it’s important to choose a provider that is transparent about how your services are handled.

Ideally, providers should also collaborate with your in-house teams to help them understand how services are managed. This transparency helps reduce reliance on the provider and helps you verify that MCSPs are providing the services they claim.

A few questions that are helpful to ask include:

  • How willing are providers to share performance reports and metrics about your services
  • Are providers using proprietary or open-source tools to manage services
  • How are you alerted to changes, maintenance, or issues
  • What sort of training do providers offer to improve in-house skillsets

Managed Service Provider Solutions by Cloudian

MSPs are often required to deliver affordable, scalable capacity availability. In addition to meeting these requirements, MSPs need to provide seamless integration without wasting too many resources on support. To help MSPs meet these demands, Cloludian provides two types of services:

  • Storage as a Service—Cloudian offers scalable storage solutions, including simple management, built-in data protection, and interoperable S3-API compatibility. Cloudian supports multi-tenancy with native QoS and billing, as well as white label user interfaces.
  • Backup and Archive as a Service—Cloudian HyperStore is an object storage solution you can use as a backup target. You can deploy HyperStore nodes in any location that requires capacity storage, and then scale as needed. Cloudian provides data protection and erasure coding options, which are configurable for up to 14 nines data durability.

cloudian hyperstore appliance

Learn more about Cloudian solutions for managed service providers.