What to Demand from Your Managed Service Provider: A Definitive Guide

Man in a business suit with a digitally created graphic and the words managed it services.

Managed services providers (MSPs) offer an array of services designed to improve the development and function of business applications, store data, and provide cyber security. It’s critical that businesses choose the right MSP to maintain smooth operations, innovate new functions, and provide the right services for their company.

In What to Demand from Your Managed Services Provider: A Definitive Guide, we take a closer look at the key offerings your managed service provider should be delivering, how to find the right solution, and the consequences of not having a complete solution.

Managed IT services enhance or replace existing, internal IT resources through the use of a third-party contractor. Often, these services are delivered via cloud platforms that provide flexibility and can be operated independently or in conjunction with on-premises computing services and applications. This structure gives companies flexibility to develop the system that works best for their needs.

The market for managed services continues to grow. A recent report from BCC Research projects the sector to reach $256.5 billion by 2021 with a compound annual growth rate of 11.5 percent. Demand is expected to grow rapidly among small and midsize enterprises.

Why Use a Managed Services Provider

There are many reasons why companies choose to use a managed service provider. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Specialization. IT is evolving rapidly, with new technologies, tools, and application innovations disrupting business at a dramatic pace. While organizations in the past have been able to hire a limited number of staff to address a range of issues, from infrastructure maintenance to application development to system management. Today, given the highly specialized and evolving IT landscape, companies need a large number of employees in each area, a cost which can be challenging to incur. With an MSP, companies can tap into resources provided by the vendor, reducing overhead and payroll expenses.
  • Hardware. Purchasing, maintaining and upgrading hardware costs can be expensive, requiring physical space, environmental controls. And the staff to maintain these systems. Hardware also needs to be replaced to respond to growing demands and advances.
  • Talent Scarcity. Finding the right employees can be difficult, especially in specialized areas where the salaries for in-demand technical staff can skyrocket.

Top Features for MSPs

While MSP providers offer a range of services, there are some foundational elements of any MP that you should expect. Here are the top 5:

  1. Foundation Services. At its core, an effective MSP provides foundation services that ensure your work needs are addressed promptly. Effective help desk assistance to address issues and to comply with service level agreements are the bedrock on which all managed services should rest.
  2. Functional Support. When you have issues or requests regarding your applications, you need fast and accurate responses. Whether you’re using Oracle, JD Edwards or other services, you need a provider who can answer specifics about your applications. With a MSP providing functional support, your support costs will be reduced and the quality of that support will improve.
  3. Platform Management. No matter what platform you choose for your solution, you need a provider that can optimize and fine-tune it to operate at maximum capability.
  4. Cloud Hosting/Infrastructure Management. An MSP supports you with a cogent cloud strategy that allows for a planned migration of services, applications and data. With an MSP, you can easily scale up or down as needed to ensure that your infrastructure can support your needs and is right-sized.
  5. Managed Disaster Recovery. In case a disaster strikes, you want to be sure that your applications and data are safe, secure, and functional. Using an MSP means having redundant services and backups that minimize downtime, ensuring full operational continuity without the risks of lost revenue and customer retention.

What do these five fundamental components provide, collectively, for the enterprise? First, they allow for a shift of IT costs from infrastructure capital expenditures to ongoing operational expenses. Giving the longer time frames required to develop and approve capital expenses, this shift provides organizations with greater financial flexibility and fewer large capital expenditure budgets.

The core services also provide organizations with greater agility, allowing them the elasticity to scale service needs and demand up and down accordingly. This flexibility is important to organizations that are in high-growth periods or have cyclical demands for services.

Companies with this base level of services can also reallocate IT resources that had previously been needed for managing data centers on premises. Given that many IT departments are overtaxed and are often pulled in multiple directions, eliminating some of the must-do functions associated with infrastructure management can be a major pressure release for organizations. These resources can be shifted to more valuable, urgent projects that drive value for the business.

Reduced operational expenses are another considerable factor for companies that shift to a MSP model. With a less expensive infrastructure and flexibility in paying for services as needed, companies can ensure that expenses are managed and predictable.

Cloud services also allow organizations to migrate at the pace they need. MSPs can accommodate an all-in approach that manages massive migrations easily. Or, companies can help develop phased adoptions and migrations that allow for a gradual approach based on resource availability, compliance needs, staff availability, or resources.

Finally, security is a critical component of any managed service provider. You want a partner who treats your data with the care and seriousness that you do. That means finding a provider that has the newest security measures, built-in redundancies, and a focus on data security.

Man with a digitally created graphic with the words Infrastructure as a service.
Infrastructure needs are one of the five core services to expect from your managed service provider.

What To Consider

Given the critical needs of your MSP, and the impact an MSP decision can have on your enterprise, what kinds of questions should you be asking of your potential MSP? Here are some of the key areas to consider when selecting the right MSP:

  • Operational Availability. You want to choose an MSP that is available when you and your employees need it, with 24/7/365 operations, monitoring, and support. Always-on support is intrinsic to top MSP options. You should expect continual access and engineering support to ensure that issues are identified and fixed quickly, ensuring full operational uptime.
  • Industry Expertise. Your industry has specialized needs, regulatory requirements, standards, requirements, and policies. Having the right industry expertise means your company can tap into the collective knowledge and experience of working with companies that work in your space. Be sure to ask for industry-specific case studies and references to ensure industry norms are met.
  • Global Reach. Your organization may have multiple locations, teams, or employees that need access from remote locations across the world. Your MSP should be able to meet the needs of multi-site, global enterprises or remote employees or contractors that need access. Your MSP should be able to operate via multiple device and operating system types, provide VPN or remote access, and address multi-lingual needs.
  • Remote Monitoring. Your MSP needs to provide the tools that allow for remote management and monitoring of machines, servers, and network health. Performance issues need to be identified quickly, diagnosed, and addressed. This monitoring is essential to prevent minor issues becoming major operational problems.
  • On-Site Availability. While most functions can be addressed by remote professionals, often you need on-site assistance, especially when there are hybrid solutions at play. Your MSP vendor should be able to provide on-site technical assistance if needed.
  • Service Breadth. Your organization needs a full array of services, in addition to the fundamental ones mentioned above. Ideally, your MSP vendor will offer a breadth of services and functions that allow you to have one-stop shopping. Juggling multiple vendors can create a complicated environment, integration issues, and compatibility difficulties. A single source of operations provides for more effective management of functions and systems.
  • Security. Understanding your MSP’s security protocols, safeguards, and processes is an important consideration. You should understand the full scope of protections for your applications and data. You should also inquire about the steps your MSP vendor takes to stay apprised of new potential threats and has a process in place for deploying new security measures that do not interfere with operations.
  • Program Development. You want an MSP that’s committed to developing new and better platforms, support mechanisms, and best practices. Be sure your potential MSP has communication methods in place to alert you to new opportunities, enhancements, and development cycles.
  • Compliance. For industries where compliance is a mandatory consideration, you want to be sure that your MSP can deliver on the compliance needs, including those from multiple agencies and jurisdictions.

At Denovo, we offer a leading solution for your managed IT services needs. We embed foundation services, functional support, platform management, infrastructure, and security services into a range of cloud platforms – private, public and hybrid. With Denovo managing your applications and data, you can have peace of mind, flexibility, and agility to meet evolving demands and opportunities.

To learn more about Denovo’s managed IT services, schedule a free consultation.

Learn about the five fundamental components of an agile, cost-saving managed service provider platform @DenovoCloud #ManagedServicesProvider.