Want to make sure your cloud is secure but don’t have the time or expertise to do it? That’s what cloud security managed services are, and they’re exactly what they sound like – cloud security as a service. A managed services provider (MSP) will harden and secure your cloud on an ongoing basis.
What Are Cloud Security Managed Services?
Cloud terms can be notoriously slippery since they’re often marketing terms that don’t always match the technical reality, and many sales and marketing people like to sling these buzzwords around without knowing what they mean. But when we talk about cloud security managed services, we’re mostly talking about managed security services for cloud solutions like:
- Virtual private clouds (similar to a local enterprise network, just in the cloud)
- Cloud-based servers
- Cloud-based databases
- Cloud file shares
- Hosted virtual desktops
Anything that requires you as the user to do a decent amount of setup and configuration work and ongoing monitoring, maintenance, remediation, and incident response to secure them.
It’s true that some cloud-based solutions don’t require the user to do much to secure them. With SaaS solutions like Salesforce, Dropbox, and Asana there’s not much for you to secure. Everything behind the scenes it handled for you. Identity and account management is your only real concern – making sure users have all the right permissions, are selecting strong passwords and using MFA, and are removed when they no longer need access.
Other forms of cloud security like cloud email security or website and web app security are more complex, but we wouldn’t really call them “cloud security managed services”. The term is meant to refer to continuously securing traditional IT infrastructure like servers and desktops.
What Cloud Security Managed Services Do and Don’t Handle
One thing you don’t really have to worry about with cloud hosting in terms of security is someone breaking into your office and walking off with your servers and NAS drives. Most cloud data centers are pretty well secured, with 24/7 onsite security guards, fencing, reinforced doors – the whole nine yards.
All cloud providers handle the security for their own back-end infrastructure and internal systems as well. And the public clouds do a pretty good job of that as you’d expect, as they have the money, scale, and name recognition to hire the best data security professionals in the world.
Beyond that, how much of the security responsibilities the cloud provider is supposed to handle and how much you the client is supposed to handle can vary depending on the provider, the services, and the terms. Most likely however you will end up being responsible for things like:
- Patching/updating your operating system and applications
- Configuring your network’s firewall
- Installing and managing antivirus software
- Monitoring for and responding to suspected intrusions and malware infections
These responsibilities are essentially what a cloud security managed services provider will handle for you. If you don’t handle these responsibilities on the other hand you’re leaving yourself open to a multitude of threats including brute force password guessing and exploits.
How It Works
First you’ll agree with the cloud security managed services provider on terms, pricing, Service Level Agreement (SLA), etc. The cloud security managed services provider will install secure, lightweight agents in your cloud environment to monitor and manage it remotely, as well as request some amount of administrative access to your cloud’s portal. These services would be paid for a monthly basis, with most contracts lasting at least a year.
Cloud Security Managed Services Benefits
Most managed services providers operate 24/7/365, have dozens or even hundreds of people including data security experts and cloud engineers on staff, and have access to the latest and best cloud configuration and data security toolsets. They can protect your cloud as well as any enterprise-level IT department.
Less Time & Effort
Even if you know what you’re doing when it comes to cloud security, and despite its importance and occasional complexity, it can still be pretty routine and unengaging work. It’s exactly the kind of stuff you want to outsource so you can focus on more interesting and demanding responsibilities, like new deployments, proofs of concept, automation projects, and strategic planning.
Lower Costs for Equal Protection
Just like the cloud, managed services providers drive lower costs through increased efficiency. Not every business needs their own internal data center, and not every business needs their own internal data security team. In both cases, you would have resources sitting idle for hours on end. MSPs manage and secure the clouds of many different companies at once, while still ensuring that everyone gets the same level of service they would get if they hired an in-house security team.
What to Look for in a Cloud Security Managed Services Provider
Aside from the obvious stuff of course like checking reviews and asking friends, family, and acquaintances for their recommendations.
They’re Already Hosting Your Cloud
Duh. If you’re hosted in a private cloud (which means pretty much any cloud aside from the big public clouds like Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, and Digital Ocean), see if they offer managed services. They probably do, since that’s how private cloud providers make their money. Before you sign on, though, you might want to read our blog about why the public cloud is better than a private cloud for 99% of businesses.
They Have Experience with Your Cloud
If you’re in a public cloud like Azure or AWS, make sure your selected managed services provider has experience with that particular cloud. They don’t have to have PhDs in it, of course, especially since a lot of IT is the same anyway whether it’s hosted on an onsite server or in the cloud, but they should at least be familiar with the platform so you’re not just paying for them to learn it as they go along.
Keep in mind that public cloud providers tend not to offer fully-featured, first-party managed services; they prefer to let their MSP partners handle it, and if you contact them directly they’ll probably just point you to whoever earned the most licensing purchases that quarter.
They Can Deliver the Kind of Security & Support You Want, at the Price You Want
Are you looking for basic patching and 24/7 security monitoring or for something more advanced? Do you have advanced security requirements like HIPAA or FedRAMP? How much do you want to spend on this on a monthly basis (keeping in mind what it could cost if something like a ransomware attack occurred and wiped out all your data from the last 5 years and forced you to rebuild your IT from scratch)?
Shop around a little bit. Find the cloud security managed services provider that can deliver the security you’re looking for at the price you’re looking for. Some MSPs are little more than a glorified computer repair shop, other firms might do pen testing for the NSA and be way more than you need.
Be rightfully cautious if an MSP quotes you a really low number. If you’re going to invest in your security at all as a business, don’t cut corners on it.
With the tools that many MSPs have and their ability to quickly vet contractors anywhere in the world, there’s really no reason to pick a local MSP just because they’re local, especially if they’re managing a cloud network for you. But many businesses prefer working with a local MSP anyway. There’s the trust factor of working with someone in the neighborhood and having a physical building you can go to when needed. Plus, it’s easier for a local MSP to support your office network, too, if you have one.
Best Cloud Security Managed Services Providers
No false modesty here 😁. In all honesty, we’re a great choice, especially if you’re hosting your IT on Azure. We’re available 24/7/365 and we’ve got a team of cloud and IT infrastructure experts on staff. We’re big enough to support any business with between 20 and 200 users, while still being small enough to know all of our clients’ IT from front to back, and being able to offer fully custom support plans and pricing. We’re experts in security, having served clients in demanding industries like manufacturing and healthcare.
With us you’ll never get lost in a phone tree or have to escalate every ticket through multiple layers of people just to get something done; no layers of red tape or bureaucracy. Call or email in, and you’ll be routed as soon as possible to someone that can actually solve your issue.
If we could recommend someone besides ourselves it would probably be the folks at RackSpace, who have been offering managed cloud services for years and who were long known for their “fanatical”, friendly, and responsive customer support. They’re certainly the biggest name in managed cloud services out there. At the same time, we’ve heard that their customer support has taken a few steps back in recent years (it’s tough to maintain a quality culture at a big public company like that), and we’re not really sure if they’re as good at supporting other peoples’ clouds as they were at supporting their own when they were more of a public cloud player.
They say no one’s ever been fired for picking Microsoft – in other words, if you need to pick anything and don’t want to look into it too much just pick the front runner so you don’t get in trouble for taking a risk. IBM is still the biggest name in IT services out there, so if you have a lot of money lying around and don’t want to do more than 5 seconds of research and vendor evaluation Big Blue is as good a choice as any, along with other big-name consulting firms like Accenture, Cognizant, and Deloitte.
Pax8 isn’t actually a managed services provider. Their platform and services make the back-office logistics including licensing and billing of cloud services for MSPs like us a lot easier so we can focus on the tech and customer service. If you don’t like us for some reason or need some kind of niche service that we don’t offer, you can trust Pax8 to recommend someone else; they’re good people.
Get Started with XOverture Cloud Security Managed Services Now
Reach out today to request a meeting so we can see how we can help you.