What’s the key difference between cloud and managed services providers?


July 12, 2016

The use of cloud-based IT resources has been rapidly growing as businesses realize the convenience and productivity boosts involved. However, a lot of small and medium-sized companies may struggle to understand what they need, how to get it, and where to get it from.

There are two major types of service providers that deliver cloud solutions:

  • Cloud services providers
    • Examples include O365, Amazon Workspaces, Azure, Rackspace, SalesForce.com, Google Apps, Sharefile, and Dropbox
  • Managed services providers
    • Examples include local, regional and national providers of general managed IT services

Why move to the cloud?

If your business has not yet moved into the cloud, you may question why it’s important to do so. There are many advantages to using cloud-based services, including:

  • Mobility – Securely access your software apps and data from anywhere, using any computer or mobile device.
  • Reliability – Most providers deliver system uptimes of 99.99% or more because their infrastructure is architected with greater resiliency and redundancy than many small and medium-sized businesses could otherwise afford to ensure.
  • Data security – Typically, your critical data is stored in a centralized facility protected with stronger security measures than the average business can afford.
  • Flexibility – Quickly and easily add, remove and change new software applications and users.
  • Reduced capital costs – Greatly reduce your need for IT network infrastructure capital purchases, such as servers.

Cloud services providers versus managed services providers

So, what’s the difference between a cloud services provider and a managed services provider? In a nutshell, a managed services provider is also a cloud services provider, but a cloud services provider is NOT a managed services provider.

For example, cloud services providers offer a number of individual hosted solutions, including:

  • Desktop as a Service (DaaS)
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • File sharing

Managed services providers can deliver all of the above services, as well as a higher level of IT support that may include:

  • Network connectivity
  • Malicious software/virus solutions
  • Data security
  • Backups/disaster recovery/business continuity
  • IT strategy and growth management

Business owners commonly choose cloud services providers over managed services providers because the former appears to be a cheaper option. However, just because all your IT resources are being hosted by a cloud services provider doesn’t mean the provider will assist you with the managed services issues listed above. Assuming otherwise can be a costly mistake, not only in terms of productivity but also with regard to the migration and onboarding costs of moving to another provider more suited to meet your IT needs.

Ultimately, although cloud services providers will deliver a number of hosted solutions to help streamline your business processes within the confines of certain limitations, they will not support your company on a higher, all-encompassing IT level. When you’re trying to decide whether to use a cloud services provider or a more holistic managed services provider, it’s important to understand what you’re getting into so you can make the choice that most benefits your business.

Questions? Contact us to learn more about managed IT services.

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