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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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November 1, 2022 | Stefan Voss

Data Protection as a Service Completes a Cloud-First Strategy

Managed services providers are answering the call to help their clients economically improve their threat defense with cloud-first backup and recovery.

Making more use of the cloud for workloads and the experience of employees and customers allowed the world’s enterprises and SMBs to move forward with business as usual, and business unusual, during the worst of the pandemic. In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, the proven success of the cloud has made executives bullish. So much so that by 2024, the average company anticipates cloud spend to represent 80% of its total IT-hosting budget.

In many ways, the pandemic accelerated what was already a trend. The cloud-first IT strategy has been steadily gaining in popularity, especially notable in the adoption of SaaS applications like Microsoft 365, displacing traditional on-prem Exchange servers and removing the associated maintenance and management burden. However, even as progress continues, most organizations must deal with a mix of legacy infrastructure with cloud-native applications and workloads. Data protection has been lagging behind the cloud-first trend.

Beyond the obvious administrative advantages of a SaaS architecture, cloud-first data protection has important security advantages. For years, companies of all sizes have been blindly relying on local backup with on-prem storage. However, in the age of ransomware that attacks backup infrastructure and backup copies stored on the local network, the fingers-crossed mentality doesn’t cut it. And with the growing skills gap, labor shortages, and IT budget pressures, managed services providers are answering the call to help their clients economically improve their threat defense with cloud-first backup and recovery.

Modern MSPs are offering cloud-first data protection as a service (DPaaS) to help companies scale their backups without adding ungainly complexity and high costs, while facilitating rapid recovery from ransomware and other types of incidents. A DPaaS application saves money and staff time, since there is no need to install or maintain a local application server, and no physical appliance is required. It also eliminates the need to buy, provision, or manage local data storage for backups, since backup copies can now be stored in the cloud.

With a cloud-first platform, organizations have the benefits of image-based recovery without the associated inefficiencies. To date, local-first image-based backup has been considered the industry standard. However, that method brings with it unnecessary complexity and inefficiency. Bolting secondary cloud-storage capabilities onto legacy backup architectures is not the best solution. To make the most of IT teams and resources, today’s organizations need data protection that is not just cloud-enabled, but more importantly, built from the ground up on a cloud-first architecture.

Threat Defense with Cloud-First Data Protection

An AT&T 2022 cybersecurity predictions list notes ransomware will become “the most feared adversary.” This year, and into 2023, MSPs serving their customers are facing the dual threats of ransomware as a service (RaaS) and the hybrid workforce. Challenge No. 1: It is easier, and more profitable, to be a cybercriminal—opening the windows of opportunity to more hackers and making RaaS an even more lucrative business. No. 2: With the work-from-anywhere movement, the potential attack surface has expanded to more endpoints, more unsecured rogue devices, and therefore more phishing opportunities.

Cloud-first DPaaS reduces the attack surface and eases recovery in two important ways: By storing backup copies off the local network, they are out of reach if an attacker gains access; and by hosting the backup and restore application elsewhere, the infrastructure needed for recovery is likewise out of reach and ready when you need it.

Cybercriminals can easily attack backup files that sit on local networks. Moving primary backup copies from local storage to the cloud reduces this risk while eliminating the need for local storage management, upgrades, and patches to the backup application server.

SaaS Application Considerations

Backup appliances are an expensive and clunky approach to data protection. Some companies are choosing to use remote cloud storage as a secondary step to on-premises backup. However, this requires more IT management and is inefficient.

Your customers can realize budget efficiencies with disaster recovery as a service. Why? Three quick reasons:

  • There’s no need to install or maintain a local application server.
  • No physical appliance is required.
  • There’s no need to buy, provision, or manage local data storage backups.

What’s more, an efficient SaaS solution can use a single dashboard to manage server, workstation, document, and Microsoft 365 backups for multiple locations or customers. It can also automate backup deployment with device profiles to help provide consistent configurations and service levels.

Cloud Change Management

While remote cloud storage offers a stronger threat defense, the existence of paid-for legacy infrastructure and the natural resistance to any dramatic organizational change continue to make the move to a cloud-first model challenging for MSPs and the organizations they serve. Fact is, there’s room for both cloud and on-prem, but the mindset of cloud-first is important to maintain.

To enjoy the best of both worlds, MSPs and their customers can choose to keep an optional second copy of backups on the network for faster restore. In ransomware scenarios this copy may be corrupted, but the primary backup copy will still be secure in the cloud. It’s really about reversing the traditional order: Send backups to the cloud first, with an optional local second copy.

Scale is another key motivator. To stay ahead of this data trend, the cloud is imperative. Organizations using cloud-first solutions can scale, work more securely, and stay within budget limitations. The ability to manage more backups with the same staff and the same storage hardware you already have is invaluable.

The long-term view is that a cloud-first approach to control storage costs, spend less time on backup administration, and help protect against ransomware, will be the dominant choice. For MSPs supporting many locations, appliance-based backup is one element that adds to costs, not only in the upfront purchase of the appliance, but in ongoing maintenance and upgrades. The biggest part is the work that’s involved in supporting backup applications and storage. By changing the architecture to direct-to-cloud SaaS data protection, administrative time can be reduced significantly. These efficiencies translate to better service for the customer.

As-a-service security solutions are critical to a software-defined world in which all applications that make up the digital experience must be built with a security-first, cloud-first approach. Solutions including cloud backup and recovery, and the management software behind them, give businesses and the MSPs who serve them the ability and confidence to work securely from anywhere.

STEFAN VOSS joined N-able in November 2021 as the new vice president of product management, where he will help drive the data protection business. Prior to this position, Voss acted as the chief product owner and senior director of product management for a variety of data protection products at Dell Technologies, making him responsible for a ~$500M business across SaaS offerings, standalone software, and integrated appliances. In 2016, he founded Dell Technologies Cyber Recovery and drove a 1.0/MVP product from concept to launch, growing the business to more than 1,100 active sites globally. Prior to his product management tenure at Dell, Stefan held a variety of leadership positions at EMC and BBN Technologies in technical marketing, corporate systems engineering, and competitive intelligence. He obtained his master’s degree in aerospace engineering at the Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany, and his MBA at Babson College, USA. Voss spends most of his free time with family. He enjoys many outdoor activities, but especially loves to windsurf and ski.


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