July 11, 2017 | Kriti Adlakha
You’ve seen the numbers and you’re convinced – you need to join the cloud computing revolution. Even if you only migrate some of your IT functions to the cloud, it’s going to save you money and make your IT department more efficient. There’s a lot more to it than that, however, and a reputable and effective Managed Services Provider (MSP) should help you discover just how much more. Here are five questions you should ask before selecting an MSP.
Why do I need an MSP?
First, let’s address the basics – MSPs are hugely beneficial because they provide you with access to an experienced professional who can help reduce your overall IT risks. These specialists are knowledgeable, prepared to handle a wide array of IT hiccups, and can understand your specialized protocols, policies and procedures. In addition, MSPs are constantly monitoring your IT system in real-time, allowing for quick deployment of fixes and troubleshooting. By employing an MSP, you are freeing up you and your staff’s time and energy to focus on your core business.
Second, MSPs provide you with an infrastructure that is different and more efficient than on-premises IT. In-house IT infrastructure means longer times to research, develop, and implement technology – all of which increase costs that are ultimately passed along to your consumers. With an MSP, you continue to cut your costs in the long-term by eliminating the need to spend large sums of money on training and maintenance costs. According to a recent ComTIA study, 46 percent of managed IT service users have cut their annual IT costs by 25 percent or more.
What is my MSP’s vision for managing systems in the cloud?
MSPs are a beneficial partner when it comes to cloud migration and management. However, your MSP’s strategy for managing your systems in the cloud should be tailored to your needs. Be sure to investigate any prospective MSP’s approach and talk to their current customers. Are they getting the same cookie-cutter service or is their MSP truly providing solutions designed to fit their exact needs? And has the MSP provided a proposed roadmap for both the migration process and how the infrastructure will be managed once in the cloud.
What are my options once I’m in business with an MSP?
The options for working with an MSP extend far and wide, and how the MSP supports your business should be determined early on. One very important consideration is how much control you retain over the situation. Once your IT functions are in the cloud, are you chained to the MSP from then on or are you able to contract with others should the need arise? Are you comfortable with the MSP being the middle man in any communication with the cloud service provider (CSP)? Many MSPs don’t even allow customers to communicate directly with the CSP. Once your contract with the MSP is up will you be able to move tools or capabilities elsewhere or are you going to have to re-up to avoid an interruption in crucial services?
Each MSP functions differently, but affordances and limitations should always be laid out in a service-level agreement (SLA) so that all parties involved are aware of their roles and responsibilities no matter what the answers to some of the questions above are. The ultimate goal of your MSP should be meeting objectives laid out in the SLA and becoming a thought-partner that can help build business efficiencies.
What value should I expect to realize from moving to the cloud?
The value that your cloud MSP provides exceeds the prospective costs savings mentioned above. Moving to the cloud opens up all the efficiencies inherent to the DevOps process, cutting deployment time in some cases from weeks to days or even hours. That kind of efficiency doesn’t just mean greater profits in the short-term (though it does), but also means your business is prepared to take on the sped-up challenges of the modern business world.
How do I know that my data/apps/platform is secure?
When talking about MSP security, it’s important to first understand that your on-premises data center is not as secure as you think. The average data center gets hit with dozens of cyber attacks each day and while your security probably takes care of almost all of them, it only takes one piece of malware to stop you in your tracks.
If cloud and managed service providers want to stay in business, It’s important for the reputations of both to maintain the highest level of security possible. That being said, for security purposes as with anything else, not all MSPs are created equal. Some are much better at ensuring compliances for highly regulated industries, providing comprehensive backup and security capabilities across the network, ensuring that all devices are immediately updated, inventoried and audited as they connect. Other MSPs might consider a couple of geographically separated backups and semi-frequent updates good enough security and call it a day. Make sure your MSP provides a level of security that you are comfortable with. As an added layer of protection, it’s a good idea to encrypt your most crucial data before it goes to the cloud. That way you can maintain some control over data security.
You’re in the know so go!
Now you know what you don’t know and what you need to ask any prospective MSP before entrusting your IT infrastructure, data and apps to them. Be thorough and make sure you’re going to get the level of service with the flexibility you need. But don’t wait too long because soon you may find if you’re not in the cloud, you won’t be anywhere.