Tag Archives: Office 365

 Silver LiningWhen your customers move to cloud apps like Office 365, you need a plan to replace those revenue streams. Backup and cyber-security are in the frame.

The cloud is shaking up the IT services market.

Attracted by low costs, on-demand capacity and off-premise simplicity, businesses - your customers - are switching to cloud apps for everything from office and collaboration software (Office 365, SharePoint) to storage (Dropbox, Box) to sales and marketing (Salesforce) and much else besides.

In fact, by 2018 the typical IT department will have 60% of its apps and platforms residing in off-premise cloud systems, according to cloud research from IDG cited here, and this figure is even higher in smaller businesses with little or no in-house IT expertise.

So, with the move to cloud raining on your traditional IT services parade, is there a silver lining anywhere, and if so how do you cash in on it?

Break out the umbrellas and read on…

Earn revenue securing what cloud apps can’t

Call it a silver lining or call it an open secret, many cloud apps that are in enthusiastic business use across the world are in fact riddled with security issues.

In Office 365, for example, the security built into the application only protects against known malware – which is only about 10% of threats, according to this cloud app security information from Trend Micro.

Plus, 79% of ransomware attacks and over 90% of targeted attacks start with email – which, of course, is a big part of how your customers use cloud-delivered services like Office 365.

Put these two together and you have a recipe for (from your customers’ point of view) a GDPR catastrophe, but (from yours) a cloud that rains security revenues! This enables you to replace other IT services you became unable to deliver when your customers took their tech cloudward.

And the prospects for this market? Well, put it this way, cloud apps aren’t going away, and neither are the threats ranged against them. In fact, both are growing rapidly.

The global cloud apps market is expected to have grown from around £21.8 billion from 2014 to around £47.6 billion by 2019, according to a summary of cloud app market analysis from MarketsandMarkets.com.

Meanwhile, security vendor Malwarebytes reports in this white paper that the UK was the second-most targeted country in Europe for all types of malware in 2017!

So, time is of the essence. Go with a cloud app security solution that is rapid to deploy, requires no software or device changes or email rerouting management, is easy to manage through a centralised console, and comes in flexible licensing models enabling you to sell monthly or annually based on your requirements.

You could be putting a sunny face on your cloud app revenues sooner than you think!

Cloud data backup: stop mythmaking, start moneymaking!

But another critical cloud area you could be winning business in is cloud-to-cloud backup.

(“Huh?” I hear you say. “Isn’t data in cloud apps already backed up to, erm, the cloud? Isn’t that the point?”)

Well, that’s something of a myth. Yes, cloud apps keep backup copies, but this is not a robust or reliable backup and restore facility, simply because the data is purged - completely - after a number of days, never to be seen again.

Take the example of Office 365. Nominally, the data is backed up to Microsoft’s Azure servers – but this data is only available from the recovery folder for around 14 days. What if your customer’s data loss or ransomware infection predates that?

And what happens if data is overwritten or deleted in Salesforce due to user error or malicious insider intent, but not noticed until it’s too late?

These are huge operational and compliance issues for cloud apps users – but a great opportunity for you!

You can now deliver cloud-to-cloud backup services – that is, cloud app data backed up to an additional cloud location – to find, restore and export archived data in minutes, recover data from any point in time at any hierarchical level, and manage it all from a simple, intuitive interface (CloudAlly is a good example).

Best of all, with these solutions your customers benefit from an unlimited data retention period – so they never say goodbye to their data (and as you’re the one facilitating the backup, they might never say goodbye to you either!)

Forget silver – there’s pure gold in them thar clouds!

What You Need To Tell & Sell To Office 365 CustomersIt seems that industry commentators everywhere have come out in support of Office365, for MSPs, resellers, and end-users alike. In a recent TechTarget Search Cloud Provider piece, for example, one interviewee called it “the single greatest opportunity for MSPs and VARs to enter into the cloud” and “a no-brainer for 99% of customers”.

He goes on: "There are two different categories of MSP and VAR when it comes to Office 365: one that embraces it and one that fights it. Within the fighting group, it's a losing battle … Their customers are getting picked off one at a time."

Sobering stuff. But selling Office 365 is not just about pushing the benefits - there’s money to be made out of its weaknesses, too.

 

Office 365: strengths, benefits, and scary weaknesses

From the end-user perspective, the benefits of Office 365 are legion. Amongst others, it eliminates the need for internal email management, and ensures one consistent environment, no matter how widely distributed the IT infrastructure. Updates happen automatically – so there’s no need for costly, time-consuming manual management of upgrades or patches.

This blog quotes a number of smaller businesses enthusing about the cost benefits of the solution, with one manager saying it costs him “just a few dollars a month per user”, and another projecting “25 to 30 percent cost savings” after transitioning to Office 365.

Seen from the MSP point of view, the benefits are equally persuasive. This piece in Insight.com talks of the budgetary advantages to be had by moving from owning licences (capital expenditure) to subscribing to a service (operational expenditure).

It also emphasises Office 365’s scalability. You pay only for what you use, but what you use can scale up or down based on user count. And then there’s the drastic reduction of hardware and facilities costs, of course...

All good, then. But actually, not. Because Office 365 suffers from some significant weaknesses that put your customers at risk and threaten their reputation.


From weakness to wealth: how partners can monetise Office 365

But the happy news is that, as technology writer Crystal Bedell nails it, partners can “Identify a weakness in the platform and provide customers with a solution” – an approach that she pronounces “profitable” (the partners’ magic word!)

The weaknesses in question relate to known security limitations within the Office 365 solution set. Type “Office 365 vulnerabilities” into Google and you will find no shortage of past security gaps. And although Office365 supposedly boasts integral security, what Microsoft calls “Advanced security for your data” is actually only available in its premium-level E5 plan, as this page shows.

Hardly surprising, then, that many vendors have realised there is demand from partners and end-users alike to extend Office 365’s standard security features.

Spam and virus filtering appears to be an area of concern, with vendors offering “Plus”-type solutions (like the one in this video), rather than trusting to Office 365’s inbuilt defences.

Perhaps most excitingly of all, “sandbox” malware detection developed for Office 365, like this solution, can now monitor the actual behaviour of suspect files in multiple virtual sandbox environments using multiple operating systems.

This effectively turns the tables on the malware, uncovering how it targets different kinds of Office 365 users, before it can actually do so.

 

Tell your customers, sell the solutions

All in all, then, it seems that Office 365 isn’t lacking in security issues – but then it isn’t exactly lacking in solutions that partners can sell to fix them, either!

All you have to do is make sure your customers know about them. So what say you share this blog with them?