(and How Backup and Archiving Can Help)
Estimated Reading Time: 14 Minutes
Managed service providers (MSPs) often handle hundreds of clients from various industries with complex needs. This creates a host of management challenges.
The most common challenges MSPs face are the proliferation of digital risks and threat actors, insider threats and accidental deletions, limited resources, compliance and regulatory concerns, and marketing and sales issues.
Certain technologies, however, can help MSPs address these challenges and empower them to keep their customers safe and compliant. Key amongst these technologies are data backup, recovery, and archiving.
Table of Content
Managed service providers (MSPs) are third-party companies that remotely manage the information technology (IT) infrastructure and end-user systems of a range of organizations – from small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), nonprofits, and government agencies.
Most MSPs handle multiple clients at one time. This means they have access and control over business-critical infrastructures of companies and are also providers of solutions that address the needs of their clientele.
The demand for managed service providers has grown exponentially over the past few years. In the two years before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global managed services market was valued at $166.8B (in 2018) and $200.3B (in 2019)
In 2020, like every other business, the managed services industry underwent a slump, its value going down to $196.5B. But as the era of remote working spurred, 2021 saw the value rise to $239.71B. Now, it is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4% from 2022 to 2030.
This growth in demand is fantastic – but for MSPs to succeed, they need to utilize the very best tools in the tech stacks they offer and manage. Because of the complexity of the services they offer, managed service providers face various technical challenges. The industry has become increasingly competitive, and MSPs need to master these challenges if they want to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Let’s take a look at what those challenges are.
Business clients of managed service providers are especially susceptible to all manner of digital threats. But often, the biggest challenges that both MSPs and their clients face come from within.
Human error is still the most common reason for data loss, and the most common error that humans make is accidental deletion.
So what are the most common reasons for accidental deletion?
There are two main actions that businesses can take to address accidental deletions:
Businesses need to streamline their entire onboarding and turnover processes.
Part of the employee onboarding should be to orient them on using the proper equipment and software to safeguard company data and assets. If your company employs a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) system, get your employees’ buy-in to install multi-factor authentication (MFA) and security systems to protect their phones in case of loss or theft.
For offboarding and turnovers, make sure the leaving employee surrenders all sensitive data in their possession.
Onboarding / offboarding employees securely and efficiently only gets you halfway. The other half is effective preservation and recovery of the company’s intellectual property and employee work product.
Important content needs to be surrendered to the right personnel and, at the same time, properly stored or archived. It is also vital that mobile devices containing sensitive information are immediately synced to a cloud location for backup.
Scaling is important for every business – and in every vertical, it has its challenges. MSPs are no different. This is especially true for less mature MSPs that want to scale toward becoming a strategic solutions bundle provider – but are reluctant to risk changing their business model and overhauling established MSP marketing plans and sales efforts.
Here’s what we consistently hear from MSPs about the difficulties of scaling:
Still, the benefits of increased scalability and profitability often outweigh the risks. Scaling a small business just requires a little more creativity and resourcefulness. Here are some tips for scaling, even with limited resources:
Managed service providers work with multiple clients, holding massive amounts of information and data. Gaining access to their systems means a high chance of obtaining access to thousands of business systems.
This is why MSPs are prone to many digital threats and risks – especially the following five:
Ransomware threats have become more frequent and more lucrative for bad actors. The main drivers of the growth of ransomware are cryptocurrencies, the existence of ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS), and ransomware group safe havens outside the country. Reports reveal 60% of MSP client incidents were related to ransomware threats.
98% of attacks rely on the rapport and connection that are established as the social engineering attack progresses. These exploits are effective about 80% of the time. One example of an extremely effective social engineering attack is spear-phishing.
A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack ‘floods’ a web source with requests until it is overwhelmed and cannot function properly. DDoS-for-hire services have spurred in number recently, partly because of the remote working setup during the pandemic.
As more companies look at distributed and hybrid models of work, their IT requirements complexify, and they need professional guidance.
The work-from-home setup has greatly benefited managed service providers these past years. According to Fortune Business Insights, businesses are “adopting [MSPs] to upgrade and innovate their infrastructure,” and to meet the growing demand for end-to-hosting software. However, it has also expanded their risk surfaces.
Users now access their workplace tools like Slack and Teams with their personal devices. This puts sensitive company information at risk of being stolen or unintentionally exposed. A report details that 52% of businesses find mobile devices to be a major cybersecurity challenge.
Internet of Things (IoT) cyberattacks have increased year over year. The intent of these attacks range from DDoS to crypto mining to data theft.
The cost of security breaches can be damagingly high for MSPs. Fortunately, they can protect themselves. Here’s what both MSPs and their clients can do:
We tend to always think about MSPs from the angle of security – but often, the issue can be elsewhere. Sometimes, MSPs just need to look into their marketing and sales tactics to find out what the challenges are in growing their business.
An MSP may have originally targeted businesses with 20-200 employees in a specific region – but eventually discovered most of those businesses already have a service provider that provides a better service, and lost the sale. From a marketing perspective, these competitors may have been writing online content that does not resonate with their prospects, or isn’t optimized for the right keywords. From a sales perspective, perhaps they haven’t been leveraging the full sales potential of the solutions they’ve deployed.
How can MSPs address common sales and marketing challenges?
Here’s a short checklist of the best practices for your marketing and sales approach:
Public awareness of the importance of data privacy helped spur the creation of the most relevant data regulations that businesses need to comply with. These are:
These regulations protect a managed service provider’s clients, but it also requires them to have the right technologies to be compliant:
For all of these five challenges, a state-of-the-art backup and recovery system can help. In addition to enabling compliance with relevant privacy laws, an automated backup and recovery system:
More often than not, people in the industry confuse backup and archiving as the same thing. However, they are ultimately not the same:
A backup is designed to be a short-term insurance policy to facilitate the quick recovery of files not readily available due to circumstances like data loss.
With backups, users can typically select a date in time and restore a copy of the missing files from a prior date in time. Currently, the fastest and most convenient way to perform this is through the cloud.
Archiving, on the other hand, is more long-term, providing ongoing, rapid access to years, possibly decades, worth of business information. Like backup, archiving can also secure mail files, attachments, calendars and more.
This is especially important to companies in regulated industries such as financial services, healthcare, or law firms. Archiving is required by law because it provides specialized tools for making data records tamper-proof, searchable and retrievable in the event of an audit, HR inquiry or lawsuit.
Businesses, including managed service providers, have their own misconceptions about backup and archiving. Either they’ve heard it from a friend of a friend, or they’ve had a bad experience with it. In any case, it’s best to clear the air and bust those myths now.
False. Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) only saves deleted emails and files them in the recycle bin for up to 90 days. Meanwhile, Google Workspace (also known as GSuite) deletes end-users’ Drive files and emails in the Trash and Spam folders after keeping them for 30 days. Moreover, it only allows admins to restore items deleted from a user’s trash for up to 25 days.
Both solutions/providers do not assure full recovery of your data in case of user error, data corruption, or ransomware threats.
False. With the right solution, it isn’t. Certain solutions can offer non-disruptive data protection for a few dollars per seat per month. Moreover, the cost of security breaches massively outweighs the expenses needed to ensure data security.
False. Not necessarily. Non-regulated businesses can find value in data backup and archiving, too:
False. It may not be a priority, right up until it becomes one. Many businesses – some still existing, others closed down – realized this the hard way.
False. They are not. The facts, however, are:
False. This might be true for most, but there are solutions available that don’t force this on their customers. Part of choosing the right solution should be asking if they ‘take your data hostage’ – that is, if your provider charges you to get your data back when you decide to move on to another solution or service.
At the end of the day, it’s still your data, and you shouldn’t be hassled into paying to get it back, especially when you find another backup or archiving solution that suits your operational needs better.
False. They can be… if they don’t have efficient workflows. Most automated backup systems back up everything you have chaotically. But some sophisticated solutions actually prioritize backing up recently updated or added files to speed up the entire process. With the right tools at your disposal, you can expedite the process and ensure your data is fully secured and backed up.
False. While most solutions can be limited in terms of what they can do, certain tools have features that go beyond backup and archiving.
Key example: some tools include advanced features like eDiscovery and fast searches, allowing users to easily sift through their backups or archives and pull important data for compliance reviews, company audits, criminal investigations, and other legal procedures.
There are also solutions that provide business insights and analytics from your stored and archived data – solutions capable of producing productivity reports and visual relationship graphs to help you run your business more efficiently and securely.
For managed service providers and their clients, overcoming the challenges mentioned here should be top priority.
In terms of digital threats, there are powerful cybersecurity solutions online that do protect businesses from ransomware, DDoS attacks, and system vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, these tools can’t guarantee 100% security.
The same goes for accidental deletions and human error. At the end of the day, employees are just human, and mistakes will be made. These mistakes, no matter how small, can result in non-compliance and regulatory issues. They may even affect your MSP marketing plans and sales efforts.
Furthermore, businesses usually cannot just throw money at these problems, especially when resources are limited, and times are hard. Buying every solution in the market to ‘secure’ the business would be illogical and wasteful.
So, what can MSPs and their clients do? They need to evaluate their business and narrow down the solutions they need. Moreover, as a catch-all, they need technologies that will act as their ‘safety net’ – data backup, recovery, and archiving.
This is where Dropsuite can help:
Dropsuite provides cloud-based solutions for regulatory compliance, data security including archiving and data retrieval, plus advanced analytics to uncover hidden data and turn it into actionable insights to improve business processes for MSPs and their clients.