When a business doesn’t have an internal IT department or its IT members don’t have the skill set to manage cloud-based systems, it makes the reasonable choice to hire an outside cloud management services provider. An outside cloud management provider will have the expertise to take care of daily technical support for automated and enhanced operations.
A cloud management services provider (MSP) will monitor your cloud security, storage, network operations, computing, vendors, application stacks and more. Most can also manage your reporting, backup and recovery and performance testing too. They’ll provide all these services at a fixed monthly price so there are no surprises and you can manage your budget properly. In most cases, hiring a cloud management services provider will be less costly than maintaining an internal team.
When you engage a cloud management provider, you will give them access to IT and internal operations so that they can help you make strategic business decisions. Partnering with the right provider is an important decision and there are a few things to consider when making such an important decision.
The number one thing is trust. The relationship you’ll cultivate with your cloud MSP will be a critical one for your business. You’ll need to provide secure data and business strategies with your cloud management provider team so it’s critical that you can trust them to approach your business with respect and confidence.
Trust isn’t an overnight proposition, however, so don’t be afraid to talk to several companies you’re considering. Spend time with members of their teams to see if there is an affinity for each other. Do you like their style? What about their principles? Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. Remember, you’ll be putting your business in the hands of the MSP you choose and you have to be confident that they have the appropriate core values, vision and likeability for the long run.
End-to-end capabilities for your cloud journey. You’ll want to partner with a cloud MSP that has a strong history of success with other companies. Be sure to investigate their ability to support you not only through the initial planning and implementation, but also as you migrate through operations and cultural changes, optimization, security management and vision.
Be aware that there are various levels of support provided by different cloud management services providers. If you’re only looking for emergency support, you’ll choose a provider that can meet basic needs. In most cases, companies want to partner with an MSP that is interested in long-term strategic growth and can offer solutions every step of the way.
Get a specific Service Level Agreement. One of the most critical elements to have defined is the Service Level Agreement (SLA) in which the MSP will detail the services to be provided. This will include end-to-end support and deliverables to support your cloud initiative.
Some of the things to be included are performance expectations, uptime, availability and other specific performance benchmarks. You should also ask about daily operational factors such as help desk response times, optimization tactics, reporting and account meetings.
Industry expertise is critical. Obviously, you expect your cloud management services provider to be proficient in cloud computing but you’ll get a better overall experience if the MSP has expertise in your industry too. Every industry has special nuances to manage to and you’ll be ahead of the game if you align with a cloud management services provider that has worked with other companies in your industry. Don’t hesitate to ask industry relevant questions to get a full appreciation for the expertise of potential cloud management service providers.
Security. Security. Security. The MSP you partner with for your cloud computing solution should be able to provide a comprehensive plan about how they would manage any threats to your business. Don’t hesitate to ask about firewalls, intrusion prevention and detection, data encryption, incident response and how they manage processes so you’ll know what to expect.
If potential cloud management services providers don’t bring it up, ask about how they stay ahead of security threats. Don’t make a decision until you feel that the MSP can match the amount of security you feel is necessary to provide protection for your business.
Consider a third-party compliance audit. If you’re serious about hiring a cloud management services provider, you may want to go through a third-party compliance audit to learn whether the MSP delivers like they say they will. Some of the components in an audit include:
Selecting the right cloud management services provider for your business doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Just bear in mind that you’re putting a lot of trust in the provider and you should take the appropriate amount of time to vet any potential MSP candidates by following a few essential steps.
If you have any questions or comments about choosing a cloud managed services provider, or if you would like more information on the cloud services we offer, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.