A Cloud Managed Service Provider (MSP) is one of the most critical business partnerships you will ever have. Choosing an MSP to act as your trusted guide through your entire cloud migration process, and for years afterwards, ensures continued digital transformation and cloud success.
Conversely, choosing the wrong MSP can have severe consequences.
To make sure you partner with the right MSP, answer the following questions for all potential candidates – and make sure you are happy with the answers.
Do they meet your regulatory compliance requirements?
Think you’ve got security and compliance under control? If this is your first foray into the cloud, you might want to reconsider. Meeting regulatory compliance in the cloud is an entirely different beast than on-premises. Not only does your data reside in someone else’s data center; it has to travel through the Internet to get there. If you’re not careful, this can result in your data moving across state lines, and even into different countries.
This is just one example, but it illustrates the importance of having an MSP that understands your specific regulatory compliance needs and your CSPs capabilities and limitations.
An MSP that’s right for you will not only have a thorough understanding of the regulations you must comply with; they’ll have the ability to completely manage your regulatory compliance and will have a proven track record of doing so. They should also have undergone third-party accreditation, such as ISO 9001 (for quality management systems) or ISO 27001 (for information security management systems).
Can the MSP guide you through the entire digital transformation process?
If you’re considering a full digital transformation (and you should be!), you need an MSP that can guide you through the entire journey. Why? Because switching partners for IaaS, SaaS, machine learning, IoT, and every other step of the digital transformation process will result in a migration that is far lengthier and costlier than one which is performed by a single provider. With every new provider comes a pre-engagement assessment. What this looks like in practice varies by provider and by the particulars of the service they’re offering, but will inevitably result in unnecessary delays, and potentially additional costs.
Additionally, an MSP that can guide you through the entire digital transformation process understands the entire process. This means that they will be able tailor each aspect of your transformation to fit perfectly within your IT ecosystem. They will also be able to foresee integration and implementation challenges and plan accordingly.
Are you happy with the MSP’s Service Level Agreements (SLA)?
When performing a cloud migration, understanding your MSP’s SLA is critical. The SLA is the best way to set your expectations, as well as determine the MSP’s level of commitment. A rock-solid SLA is the best way to ensure your MSP meets their obligations – and your best recourse should they fail to do so.
When looking at an MSP’s SLA, pay close attention to the following four areas:
- Performance agreement: This is where the metrics used to quantify service levels will be listed. This section also details when and how reporting will be accomplished.
- Warranties: It’s important to understand what’s covered under warranty and for how long. It’s also important to know who warranties a particular service or product: the MSP, the cloud service provider, or a hardware vendor.
- Procedures for dealing with problems: This may be the most important aspect of your SLA, as it outlines what a problem is, various levels of severity, and how the problems will be reported and dealt with. This section will also cover the MSPs response time.
- Client duties: SLAs are meant to benefit the MSP as well as the client. For this reason, there is usually a section detailing your duties and obligations as a client. This ensures that the MSP gets the information and resources they need in a reasonable and timely manner. After all, the migration partner doesn’t get paid until the work is complete.