Executive Q&A: Why Cloud PSAs Will Always Be King with Adam Stewart, SVP of Engineering

February 20, 2018  By Adam Stewart
Inspired by the winter Olympics, Autotask executives get candid in this new blog series, MSP – Go for the Gold! Featuring product and industry insights, advice and expertise, this series gives MSPs and ITSPs an inside look at how to seize opportunities and build a winning team to go for the gold in 2018 and beyond.

If you’ve ever wondered what exactly a cloud pro is, we’d like to introduce you to Adam Stewart, SVP of engineering here at Autotask. He sat down with us and schooled us on why cloud PSA has the advantage as the world shifts ever more in the digital direction. 

Q: What are the advantages of cloud compared to on-premise?
A PSA is real-time mission critical software. If you’re down for 30 minutes and you don’t know what your techs should be doing, your business is stopped. Uptime is critically important. To create uptime, you have to put in huge levels of redundancy (computers for balancing the load and preventing the system from going down while pieces ARE going down). It’s expensive to do this well. The on-premise expense of doing this is huge, but as cloud providers we can take that expense and spread it across thousands of customers. Compared to on-premise, we can provide far superior uptime without multiplying the costs. We have an 8-year track record of providing roughly 4 nines of uptime (about an hour of unplanned downtime per year).  For what our customers pay for our service, they would not be able to maintain an on-premise solution that would even provide two and a half nines (99.5% uptime = more than 40 hours of unplanned downtime per year).

Q: Why is it important for businesses to migrate their data to the cloud? What’s happening from a technology standpoint that makes this the right choice?

A: Cloud solutions have data storage redundancies. By backing something up to the cloud, you have two geographic locations where the data is stored; one can be impacted by day-to-day risk while cloud won’t be impacted by the same thing. If it’s in two or more places, you won’t lose all of it to those risks. Bandwidth gets less expensive every year, more abundant and even more reliable and that’s a good thing for cloud PSA because it’s dependent on that bandwidth.

Q: How can MSPs/ITSPs overcome any concerns they may have related to security and the cloud?
A:  Ask your vendor what measures they put in place to ensure ongoing security.  Ensure they engage third-party penetration testers on a regular basis.  In the same way companies hire CPAs to audit their financials, a penetration test audits your security measures to assure they hold up.

Q: Do you have any tips for MSPs that may be transitioning to the cloud? 
MSPs should ask their cloud vendors for their uptime track record. It should be more than three years (as a point of reference: Autotask is at 8 years of roughly 99.99%).  Ask them for details around any outages. Ask them for their track record on scheduled maintenance.  Do they have weekly maintenance windows where you won’t be able to rely on their application?  Do they go down when deploying an update? Make sure the contract backs up whatever claims are being made. Look at how long you can go without that data before it starts to hurt the business. Beware of anyone who promises five 9s of uptime—5 minutes per year. You may be talking to or working with a cloud poser. 

For more about how to spot a cloud poser, view this helpful checklist
Adam Stewart
Vice President of Engineering
Adam is experienced in building and managing highly effective teams that produce relentless service and award-winning products that consistently delight customers. At Autotask he oversees engineering, which includes product development, quality assurance, documentation, help desk and data center operations.

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