Managed Services Providers, too many options

Outsourcing decisions is tough, especially when they surround critical IT infrastructure. Without them, your company cannot stay productive. This is why the global market for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) is estimated to grow to $193 Billion by 2019 (CompTIA's 5th Annual Managed Services report). 

Beyond the industry data, there is usually a reason why outsourcing is being considered by a company; you must have realized that there are a few major pain points with IT operations. Maybe the IT support staff has slow response time, or maybe the business information systems have low availability and uptime? Perhaps, even, your videoconferencing solutions are sub-par?

With our business technologies, we should rely on consistently available solutions. The question is how much responsibility you want to give up to the MSP in the process. Broadly, most of the MSPs out there provide services like these:

  • Virtual service desks for problem management and resolution (e.g. IT Support services)
  • 24/7 remote monitoring of servers, workstations, and devices for network uptime and increased security
  • Application management for patching/updating software
    • The MSP may also provide virtualized environments, leveraging the cloud.
  • Vendor management to facilitate software and hardware system resolutions

While there are one-stop shop MSPs who take ownership of everything, there are also MSPs who specialize in certain things.. CompTIA reports that 43% of MSPs have been in business for 5 years or longer, with 12% of them young companies in business less than 2 years. Unless the young MSP offers differentiated technology solutions, signing a contract may end up setting your company back. For this reason, learning how to identify quality in your MSP is a smart path forward. Here are 10 qualities to look for in your MSP:

  1. Competitive Technology Solutions. This covers the spectrum from virtual infrastructure and storage, and from end-user computing to application management. 
  2. Predictable and Upfront Pricing Models. If your company has a lot of software users, consider asking about unlimited or concurrent software licensing contracts. 
  3. Availability and Response Time. Is your MSP monitoring and supporting your systems 24/7? They should be. Identifying your critical systems first is also important. 
  4. Scalability. Make sure to ask about their capacity to store large amounts of data if necessary. Are there limitations to the amount of servers, applications, or storage you can utilize?
  5. Customizability. Can the MSP tailor the solution(s) to your company? 
  6. Superior Application Management. Are the communication channels next-gen, and do they allow for interaction that is real-time? Can employees make use of virtual software applications or desktop environments?
  7. Security. Making sure your systems are being secured properly means constant monitoring with Intrusion Detection and Prevention systems. Also, what do they provide to ensure security of end-user devices?
  8. Accountability. They must take ownership of the solutions they provide, providing management with feedback of its effectiveness, and updating with recommendations. 
  9. Confidentiality. Do they have experience protecting proprietary and confidential information? 
  10. Customer-centric Modeling. Consider the time that it takes to respond, or escalate incidents, as they arise. What response time does your business need?
These are a lot of things to consider, but not all businesses need the one-stop shop MSP. Some businesses need their systems to be monitored, and some of them need them to be secured. Some of them need both. Others might want to outsource their IT infrastructure entirely, or make use of a cloud-based support desk. While business use cases will vary, the way to ensure quality is to ask the right questions first. And you can do that right here on our site. Just click on the key below, and we'll research your question for you free of charge. 
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posted May 26 in Biz Talk by Austin Sanderson 1 (37 points) | 132 views