IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

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. By Stefan Voss

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.

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