When dealing with critical aspects of your business, you can’t afford to take risks! Yet many companies don’t do enough due diligence when buying add-on IaaS managed services. Some buy standard off-the-shelf packages and assume everything they need is in place and will work as advertised.Or they buy services they don’t fully understand and risk paying the price when it's too late. Services layered on top of an IaaS environment come in many flavors. Companies are attracted to IaaS managed services because they lack the skills or expertise to confidently do it themselves. Others have the resources, but would rather focus their attention on other more pressing IT activities. These "extensions" come as paid add-ons through the IaaS vendor themselves, or by way of third parties. They can be valuable in offloading mundane IT tasks. They can also add extra functionality, responsiveness, security and performance gains. Ultimately, when additional services are deployed in an IaaS environment, you need clarity about what you are buying. Especially if those services impact sensitive or mission-critical data.
Typical IaaS Managed Services
So what are these "managed services" and how do they help? Managed Service Providers (MSPs) offer varying types of services based on their expertise and specialties. Following are the more common IaaS managed services:
- Security Services deal with intrusion detection, malware prevention, encryption, firewall optimization and so on.
- Data Backups are not always provided by default. Therefore, they are important to think about. Vendors use different backup methods and frequencies (periodic, incremental and progressive) - each with unique considerations. Recovery time objectives and how far back the data needs to be available must align with the service provided.
- Server Management typically involves managing and patching operating systems and in some cases middleware.
- Performance Monitoring for IaaS components such as CPUs, memory, and bandwidth is used to ensure efficiency. There is always some level provided by the IaaS vendor, but intensive applications such as high-transaction eCommerce sites may demand deeper insights - especially at the application layer.
- Content Distribution Networks reduce latency on static and streamed web content by caching web page objects in servers close to the user. CDNs also provide the added security benefit of reducing or eliminating DDoS attacks.
- Virtual Private Networks extend internal networks into the cloud, linking workstations, private data centers, wireless devices, and so on with the cloud infrastructure.
- Load Balancing intelligently distributes traffic across servers; this reduces bottlenecks and also shuts off traffic to failed devices.
- Databases are generally not a standard feature offered by MSPs. But many provide common database platforms as an additional service if required.
- DNS Management is most commonly handled by the client. But given IaaS vendors play a vital role in server/network management, they can offer to take this over. A DNS service streamlines the process of adding new servers to the network.
It's Easy to Assume
When buying IaaS managed services, people often don’t understand exactly what's included and what’s not. In an existing environment, if everything is working well with the infrastructure, it's easy to assume the add-on services will also perform. When buying IaaS for the first time with a vendor, the focus usually revolves around the capacities and deployment, with less time spent assessing the managed components. If a specific service isn't a strong-suit of the vendor, or, is outsourced to a third-party, the levels of complexity and risk both rise. Not a big deal with most IaaS managed services, but for data management related activities, it certainly can be. Backups are a great example. They are not thought about much until you need a major restore. The vendor may be using backup software that's not optimally configured to meet your business needs. Or, they may employ a backup method great for saving storage space, but horrendously slow with restore times. If you don't check this level of detail - you could wind up in serious trouble.
IaaS Managed Services Checklist
When buying IaaS managed services, you’ll want to establish clear expectations and do your homework. Find an MSP that fits your technology and security criteria, one you can trust and also rely on for support. Here are some things to think about when looking at IaaS managed services:
- Decide what services you want (or need) to outsource
- Rank those services in terms of importance from data management and security perspectives
- Investigate the IaaS vendor's offering to ensure they can provide everything you need
- If there are specific services the IaaS vendor does not offer, investigate third-party solutions - remember, more players in the mix, means more complexity
- In both scenarios, clearly define your requirements and objectives
- Assuming the financials make sense, perform some level of due diligence on each service from a technical point of view - go deep on the vendor processes for the more important ones and test them if possible
- If you are buying services that can potentially harm your business, ask the vendor(s) for references
Once you have found the right mix of services, for the right price and with the exact capabilities needed, you're done! Learn more about Cartika's IaaS managed services and feel free to contact us if you have questions or need advice.