Data Sprawl: An Opportunity For MSPs [SaaS data]

Data Sprawl: An Opportunity For MSPs [SaaS data]

MSPs know that the better their clients are at data security, the fewer problems they’ll encounter when providing and managing valuable IT services. That’s why SaaS sprawl, the uncontrolled growth of SaaS applications within an organization without proper oversight or management, should be a top concern for MSPs. Helping clients tackle SaaS sprawl challenges is also an opportunity for MSPs to deliver more value and increase their share of wallet 

The Data Sprawl Age (With SaaS Apps)

SaaS adoption shows no signs of slowing down: 85% of business applications will be SaaS apps by 2025, according to a 2023 survey by SaaS app management platform provider BetterCloud.

The convenience of SaaS applications makes their use accessible to any employee with an internet connection and a credit card. Within just minutes, any employee can start using an app to solve a pressing problem – without any oversight or management from IT or other managers. 

This may sound a lot like the problem known as “shadow IT,” and there is a close connection. Shadow IT is hardware, software and systems that are used in an organization without the knowledge or approval of IT. SaaS sprawl just deals with SaaS software and the unplanned nature of SaaS adoption when it happens outside the control of IT. 

Some employees are tempted by the immediacy of web-based apps, especially in large organizations if they face long waits to get approved applications allocated to them. IT departments are hardly to blame, however. For employees tasked with delivering high-quality results from purchased solutions, the process of properly vetting new tools for security and interoperability takes time. 

Inherent Data Risks of SaaS Sprawl 

However, rapid adoption of new SaaS software has a few downsides. Organizations of all sizes need to be resilient, which means anticipating data disasters and having a plan to quickly overcome them. Comprehensive data backup and recovery needs to be part of any cybersecurity plan.  

Every organization should know their SaaS data inventory and understand how much data they are generating from all applications. In an organization experiencing SaaS sprawl, however, large amounts of data may be unintentionally “hidden” from those responsible for managing systems and apps. This is a problem that affects SMBs more than others. Research by Auvik Networks Inc. indicated that companies with fewer than 250 employees were five times more likely to be unsure how many SaaS apps employees used. 

Hidden data that’s not backed up is inherently at risk from being lost, stolen or becoming unavailable. Accidental deletions (due to human error), ransomware theft and exfiltration, and vendor outages happen all the time. Additionally, SaaS sprawl leads to other problems: 

  • Compliance problems: Data not backed up or stored securely is in danger of running afoul of data privacy rules and industry-specific data retention regulations.  
  • Security gaps: To provide good cybersecurity, most organizations rely on some type of automated monitoring (dashboards, alerts, etc.). But that only works when all apps in use are being monitored.  
  • Silo-ed information: When information is spread among many different accounts and departments, information becomes siloed. Different departments may not even know what data is available and useful for their business needs.  
  • Impaired insights: Failure to backup all data over time also means losing access to data for future analysis. Historical data can be used to analyze trends or review the effect of business decisions. Gaining insights from data works best when there’s more data, and more sources.  

The Opportunity for MSPs 

There's some positive news.  As a trusted advisor, MSPs are always on the lookout for ways to help clients and offload time-consuming workloads. SaaS discovery and backup solutions can help get SaaS sprawl under control, resulting in more data that’s secured and managed properly.  

Manual data backup can be extremely time-consuming, diverting valuable time and resources from more critical tasks for data or IT staff. SaaS backup applications such as SaaSAssure, powered by Asigra, streamline the backup process by automating it. This simplifies the task of setting and scheduling backups across multiple applications. 

The process of setting up automatic backups can also work as a way of mapping data repositories by apps. This may give organizations insights into SaaS app usage, potentially reducing redundancies and inefficiencies. 

SaaS backup applications can also improve the overall cybersecurity posture of MSP clients. SaaSAssure, for instance, is built on microservices that can scale on demand - this makes it easier and cheaper to adapt to increasing volumes of data. It also gives admins improved access control (See more about this in our blog: “5 Ways To Boost Client Security Posture with SaaS protection). 

Win-Win: Building New Revenue Streams 

For MSPs, collaborating with clients should foster a virtuous cycle of enhancements, creating a positive feedback loop. As clients improve their cyber resiliency and data management with the guidance of trusted-advisor MSPs, it becomes smoother for MSPs to handle new solutions and services, ultimately leading to the development of new revenue streams. 

Of course, not all SaaS backup solutions are created equal. Some are better for MSPs than others. Many SaaS backup solutions only backup a few widely used apps and suites, commonly known as “The Big Three” (Microsoft 365, Salesforce, and Google Workspace). However, every department often requires additional SaaS applications tailored to their specific needs. SaaSAssure seamlessly integrates with numerous applications, including those commonly used in DevOps, accounting, and HR departments, among others. 

It's worth noting that not every SaaS backup solution is multitenant. SaaSAssure is, allowing MSPs to serve many clients, or many departments of one client, from one instance. The key to creating efficiencies when working for many clients is ease-of-use. SaaSAssure’s beautiful UI features console-based monitoring of many clients at once, allowing users to quickly determine the status of backups, confirm activity, or view alerts. 

Summing Up 

Understanding the risks associated with data that lacks backup and easy accessibility for resilience and security purposes is important for both MSPs and their clients. SaaS sprawl represents just one of the ways organizations can lose track of their data inventory 

MSPs can help their clients (and themselves) by implementing SaaS data backup solutions. By helping clients create truly comprehensive backups, the dangers of hidden data become manageable. MSPs can play a key role in making that happen in the age of SaaS sprawl – and beyond.  

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