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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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MSP Myth Busters: Debunking "The Cloud"

Posted May 26, 2015by Christina Hurley

Of all the tools in an IT arsenal, none in the past decade has been quite as hyped up or misunderstood by end-clients and non-technical folks as “The Cloud.”

For some, it’s a magical silver bullet solution that is never to be understood but always to be trusted. For others, it’s an unnatural behemoth that has more harmful gaps than the Ozone layer. And still, for some unfortunate souls, it’s an impossibly complicated technology that is somehow negatively impacted during stormy weather. No, seriously.

While you’ll likely never be able to clear up all of the myths that each end-client comes across, here’s a look at some of the most common misunderstandings floating around the world of cloud computing.


Cloud Storage is a Fool-Proof BDR Plan

I’m sure you’ve come across this client; the one that believes that as soon as they throw their company’s data up into the magical cloud, it’s completely safe and sound. Why bother making any sort of business continuity plan? If anything goes wrong at their location, they can always just pull the data down from the cloud and they’ll be right back to business as usual, right? Well, not exactly.

I know I’m preaching to the choir at bit here, but it’s important to squash this first cloud myth as soon as you walk into a meeting with a potential client. Set the expectations early and make sure they understand that, while a cloud storage solution is a great tool to have in your arsenal, there is still a need to build out a thorough backup and disaster recovery plan.

Cloud storage is a great step in the right direction for clients striving for true business continuity, but without a comprehensive plan your clients are at danger of potentially serious downtime. Be proactive when you go for onsite visits by asking the simple but important questions that will start to get them thinking about the reality of a significant data loss event.

  • Who has access to the data?
  • How often should backups occur?
  • How much downtime is acceptable if an event does occur?

By simply asking a few of those questions, you are setting them up for success. This also gives you an opportunity to utilize your own team’s expertise. Advise new clients on standard practices by referencing other existing clients. Let them know if their expectations do not match up with their actual ability to recover from a disaster. Let them know what steps they can take to efficiently store and secure their data.

Having those conversations at the start of your relationship can help build trust with a client while also setting up your case for future expansion within their company.


The Cloud Isn’t Safe

You read that right. While it’s very common non-technical people to believe that “The Cloud” is a fool-proof lockbox for their data, it’s almost as common to come across overly-skeptical news junkies who have researched every cloud-based data breach in the last three years and refuse to put any faith in cloud storage.

The truth of the matter is, as with any type of digital environment, the level of security is what you make it. Just because data is stored in the cloud doesn’t innately make it more or less safe. It's more about the security procedures in place than the location of the data itself. As /u/Aorias put it on a Reddit thread on this topic:

For IaaS, the cloud is just a very powerful tool and it's equally easy to quickly create a tasty meal or cut off your arm. You can create a more secure environment in an IaaS provider than your current environment, or a less secure environment. It's all in the competency of your people owning it.

Again, the best solution this myth is simply starting a conversation that gives clients some clarity about what cloud storage actually is, and helping them understand that, whether it’s on a local server or at a cloud provider’s data center, security measures are necessary for keeping all of their data safe.

Educate your clients about the processes you adhere to in order to ensure that their data is as safe as possible, and the steps that can be taken in the occurrence of a security breach. Make sure they understand the steps they can take themselves to maintain the organization and safety of their company's invaluable information.


No Need for On-Premise Hardware or IT Again

Out of sight out of mind? Well, not quite.

Many non-technical business owners assume that taking advantage of a cloud provider will free them from the need to spend money on on-premise servers or any sort of localized technical help. They figure that if they’re already paying for offsite infrastructure that must mean it’s all just going to be taken care of organically without any TLC on their part.

While this is technically a myth, it’s one that MSPs can proudly perpetuate by providing a fully managed solution to their clients. We all know that, realistically, there is a lot of time and energy that goes into maintaining a healthy cloud environment. Bring this point up to prospective clients, but also let them know that you and your organization can offer them a compromise between their cost-free day dream and the need for them to hire a costly team of in-house technicians.

Partnering with a Network Operations Center or Help Desk allows you to position your organization as the Great and Powerful Oz. You are able to provide your end-client with the valuable peace of mind that they are expecting, while allowing your business partner act as the man behind the curtain.

It's important for you and your own technicians to be proactive with onsite visits and maintain visibility with your clients, but in this case allowing a bit of blissful ignorance might just raise you up to mythological status in your clients' eyes.

What other myths or misonceptions do you frequently come across, and how do you personally deal with them when they come up in conversations?

See also:


Business-Continuity-Content-Pack-Blog-Download

Christina Hurley is a marketing team member at Continuum, focused on Marketing Operations. She is currently finishing up her B.S. in Economics, with a concentration in Marketing from the University of Pennsylvania. When she’s not in the classroom or creating compelling content for MSPs, you can find her in the pool training with the Penn Varsity Swim and Dive Team.

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