Weighing Software-as-a-Service and Managed Service Providers

There are many acronyms in the IT world. Two common ones are SaaS and MSP, which stand for software-as-a-service and managed service provider, respectively. The bigger question is what the differences are between these two and why you would need one or the other. Here’s help.

What’s SaaS?

Your business may already be relying on SaaS. Some of the more widely used platforms include:

  • Microsoft 365
  • Salesforce
  • HubSpot
  • MailChimp
  • Shopify
  • SurveyMonkey
  • Canva
  • Slack

SaaS companies are booming. Businesses are relying more and more on these technologies, and SaaS spending has grown 50% in two years. Why?

Software as a Service provides customers with convenience. The companies develop, manage, and update a product to support teams such as marketing, sales, or customer service. The SaaS platform will promise greater efficiency, improved productivity, increased transparency, and more. These tools automate and streamline processes to drive revenue.

Customers typically pay for a cloud-based subscription fee. In return, they get lower-cost services, reduced time to implementation, and scalability.

What’s an MSP?

Managed services supports software, as well as your

 networking and hardware infrastructure. The MSP has human experts to install software, upgrade hardware, patch systems, and track security. The MSP provides all-around support for the business’s technology. This third-party firm gets to know you to help keep your business competitive.

The MSP tackles all sorts of tasks behind the scenes for your business. When your business outsources its IT to an MSP, you gain efficiencies and expertise. You are not giving up control but adding a partner to focus on time-consuming, complicated, and repetitive tasks. Meanwhile, your people can concentrate on driving innovation and generating revenue.

Businesses reap many rewards from working with an MSP. These experts can often find cost savings. Most MSPs charge a predictable monthly fee that’s easy to budget around. The enhanced expertise can also help ensure security and compliance. The MSP will also have the know-how to recommend the tools your business can enjoy most.

It doesn’t have to be either-or

Understand that you don’t have to choose between SaaS and an MSP – the two work well together.

MSPs can help you deploy and get the most out of your SaaS. In fact, an MSP can make sure your SaaS solutions work well together. They can help identify features on one platform that you’re not using. This could lead to you dropping an underutilized subscription to another SaaS.

Going on your own with SaaS means relying on each company’s IT support or asking your own in-house IT people to get to know the ins and outs of many different platforms. When you have an MSP, you pay that single provider for help instead of having to spend on tech support for each SaaS. Also, if you have a security issue, the MSP will alert you and act to cut the damage and repair the problem. The SaaS manufacturer doesn’t have the same responsibility.

Before you even get SaaS, the MSP can help guide your purchase. Your business may think it needs Slack because everyone else seems to be using it. But if you already have Teams, that could be unnecessary. The MSP learns about your business and how you work to help determine what SaaS’s are right for you.

The latest-and-greatest SaaS will come and go. Your MSP can remain the same as your business changes and evolves. Providing continuity of service, they will keep an eye out for the new SaaS you can adopt. The SaaS company wants to grow its customer base and evolve its platform, and the MSP’s job is to help your business succeed, with or without SaaS.

What You Need to Know about Web App Security

There’s an app for that! Even for business purposes, you can bet this is the case. Yet a small business may be using online applications without understanding the risks. Here’s help.

Most businesses no longer have all their technology and software solutions on-site. The old cybersecurity perimeter around the IT premises is no longer going to be enough, not with so many applications available to you online and in the cloud.

Think of it this way: a firewall perimeter is like a moat around your business castle. No one could get in without crossing the drawbridge. That worked well before to secure your locally hosted server and desktop computers. Now, though, companies are relying more on cloud vendors and Software as a Service (SaaS), which means hackers could get in without using the drawbridge or crossing the moat. It’s like an alien invasion: cybercriminals teleport in without you even knowing it.

This is a big challenge for cybersecurity. Web apps are different from what you host in your secure company environment. Information is transmitted online. The solution itself is often hosted in the public cloud.

The big breaches so far of 2021 are examples of this threat:

In Ubiquiti’s cloud service for networking equipment and IoT device vendors, a data breach risked untold numbers of usernames, emails, phone numbers, and passwords.

A Microsoft Exchange server breach left more than 30,000 American companies scrambling. The computer giant had to hurry to patch an exploit believed to have originated in China.

An exploit of SolarWinds’s network management platform, Orion, is attributed to Russia. The breach targeted the U.S. Secretary of State and the government departments of Homeland Security and Commerce, plus the Treasury. Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, and Deloitte were also affected.

How to Amp Up Your Web App Security

Step 1: Inventory Your Web Apps

You need to know what you are using to fortify your defenses. This can also mean surveying employees about their use of unauthorized apps (known as Shadow IT). They likely mean no harm, but by downloading third-party apps IT doesn’t know about, they put your protection at risk.

The size or type of Web app doesn’t matter. IT needs to know every application the company and its employees are using.

Step 2: Enhance Security Measures

Turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA). Two-factor authentication (2FA) or similar provides an added barrier for the bad actor. Done right, you can cut the user experience friction and stymy the cybercriminal.

Step 3: Backup Your Data

If the worst does happen, you want immediate access to a backup of your important systems, as it can reduce your downtime. A current backup can also reduce the risk of your having to give in to a ransomware demand.

With cloud-based apps, business owners forget to backup data that was generated in the cloud. You will either want a third-party service to back up the data on your cloud services or to download a copy to a local computer.

Step 4: Track Third-Party Vendor and Cybersecurity News

With the inventory you completed in step 1, you’ll know what apps to follow. You might set an alert for announcements about those brands and “breach.” Also, make sure that your contact information with the third-party vendor is current. That way, you are sure to get any notifications they might make. Plus, immediately install any patches and security updates they provide.

Working with an IT company can help you beef up your security measures. Consider us the brave knights on the barricades helping to keep an eye out for attackers. A managed service provider can inventory your apps and make sure you are working safely.