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5 Things to Look for in a Managed Services Provider

5 Things to Look for in a Managed Services Provider

March 2014

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5 Things to Look for in a Managed Services Provider

Managed Services Austin, TX

managed services provider The most costly and problematic portions of IT expense for most corporations have to do with the staffing required to operate their system. Now that communication speeds are way up, and good IT management tools exist, it is possible to manage IT systems remotely, and this has led to explosive growth in what is being referred to as “Managed Services”.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are independent companies that specialize in the remote management of IT systems for their clients. These systems may continue to be installed at the customer’s place of business, or they may be installed in third party co-location (CO-LO) facilities. The advantage of the later is that CO-LOs have redundant diesel generators, redundant power feeds, and redundant internet connectivity which greatly reduces the likelihood of an outage due to one of those areas. For corporations to make their own data centers redundant to this extreme would be expensive and thus, cost prohibitive in most cases.

Customers that choose to use an MSP to manage their IT systems own their own hardware and software regardless of whether it is installed on-promise or in a CO-LO facility. Some customers may choose to take this a step further and abandon their own equipment and have the MSP rent them the hardware and software services needed to run their IT operation in addition to managing it for them. This is referred to as “Hosting.” Regardless of which way you choose to go, remote management of your IT systems is the common ingredient in this form of IT outsourcing.

OK, so you have decided to pursue managed services in one of these ways, what characteristics do you look for in a good MSP partner? Here are the ones we think are important:

  • Industry & technical expertise. Let’s face it, IT systems are complex, and your MSP needs to demonstrate that they have wide-ranging and appropriate experience to be able to handle all facets of your IT systems management. They need to be well-versed in server, application and desktop virtualization, networking, Active Directory, databases, security, and core applications.
  • A complete offering of services. This company is going to become your IT department. You need to be able to count on them not only for the operational management of your IT system, but also for the general administrative tasks like adds, moves and changes. Their program needs to effectively handle SPAM and anti-virus, backups, business continuity and DR, plus anything else that would normally need to be dealt with in your environment. We think you should also pick an MSP that can offer you hosting options as well should you desire to move in that direction in the future.
  • Responsiveness. The MSP you choose needs to be responsive to your needs. They also need to share all management information about your system with you. You should be able to have access to system and management dashboard function at all times to be able to monitor the health of your network yourself to whatever extend you desire. You should be able to enter support tickets by phone, text, email or by connecting to the MSP’s support portal. You should also be able to declare the urgency level through any of these means.
  • Cost effectiveness. This goes without saying. The key to being an effective MSP is to combine the right group of automated tools that allow costs to be kept low, with the “can-do” attitude to make it all work.
  • Attitude! The MSP business is a service business, and the goal of the MSP should be to make customers deliriously happy with the support they provide. This is especially true since many times, in-house support has not done a very good job, has been unresponsive, or both, and has given IT a black eye in the eyes of much of the user community. When an MSP can apply these tools and a strong service to the max attitude, everyone is thrilled. Talk to several references of each MSP candidate and see what they say.

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