Choosing the Right MSP

Kris Bliesner<br/>2nd WatchKris Bliesner
2nd Watch

Kris Bliesner is Co-founder and CTO for 2nd Watch.

One issue many companies struggle to overcome is how to keep up with rapid changes in technology and best practices around technology implementation and management. Public cloud infrastructure, for example, has ushered in a new era of application delivery, data management and analysis. And yet, some companies are confused about how best to leverage this potentially powerful platform.

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help address this problem. Most modern, cloud-savvy MSPs offer expertise, technology and automated capabilities to deliver services on a hyperscale platform. They are well-versed in best practices and standards for managing IT infrastructure in the most efficient way possible.

But choosing the right MSP for your company isn’t easy. Sometimes a company’s needs are obvious; at other times, what they need and when they it are unclear. Following are a few points to keep in mind when choosing a MSP:

Expertise on Your Platform

An important KPI for measuring the capabilities of an MSP that many businesses overlook is depth and breadth of experience. A qualified hyperscale MSP will have the right certifications, accreditations and certified engineer-to-customer ratios.

You may feel good about signing with a large MSP because they claim a high number of certified engineers – until you realize their certified engineer-to-customer ratio is out of whack. Having 200 certified engineers means nothing if you have 5,000+ customers. One tip is to find a MSP how has more certified engineers than they do customers.

A Focus on Customer Value

This is an obvious recommendation, but it does have some nuances. Many MSPs have the technical capabilities to manage cloud infrastructure. Not many have the ability to focus on how an enterprise customer wants to use the public cloud.

The sophisticated MSP will tailor its service and approach to the needs of each customer, versus making that customer fit with some preconceived notion of how a customer should leverage cloud tech. Every customer is different. As such, companies searching for a MSP should focus on finding one who will design a service that allows them to use public cloud in a way that meets the unique requirements of their business – not the other way around.

Optimize, Optimize, Optimize!

Moving to the public cloud is just the first step in the journey to realizing business value and transforming IT. The cloud is dynamic in nature, and as such it is important that companies don’t rest on their laurels after migration. New instance types and services are constantly being introduced. When selecting a MSP, it is important to ensure the company has a clear vision around optimization as it pertains to finances, tech and operations.

It is a good idea to ask a MSP how it handles these three facets of optimization and at what cadence. Keep in mind that some providers’ pricing structures can act as a disincentive for optimization. For example, if your MSP’s billing structure is based on a percentage of your total cloud spend, and they reduce that bill by 30% through optimization efforts, that means they are now getting paid less, proportionately, and are likely not motivated to do this type of optimization on a regular basis as it hurts their revenue. Alternatively, we have also seen MSPs charge extra for these types of services, so the key is to make sure you ask if it’s included, and get details about the services that would be considered extra.

Full Service

The final qualification to look for in a cloud MSP is whether or not they are a full-service provider. Too often, pure-play MSPs are not able to provide a full service offering under their umbrella. The most common reason is that they lack professional services to assess and migrate workloads, or cloud architects to build out new functionality.

One enterprise client we worked with told us that a major frustration they experienced previously was having to work with multiple vendors on a project. With multiple vendors, it is difficult to keep track of who is accountable and for what. Why would the vendor that is migrating be motivated to make sure the application is optimized for support if they aren’t providing the support?

I have heard horror stories of businesses trying to move to the cloud and becoming frustrated that multiple vendors are involved on the same workload, because the vendors blame each other for missing deadlines, or not delivering key milestones or technical content. Your business will be better served by hiring a MSP who can run the full cloud-migration process – from workload assessment and migration to managing and optimizing your cloud infrastructure on an ongoing basis.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Penton.

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