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Virtualization: Finding Your Right Managed Services Provider

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June 03, 2011

Virtualization: Finding Your Right Managed Services Provider

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

A recent white paper from Carousel Industries titled “Selecting A Managed Service Provider” covered a lot of ground for the virtualization field, too much good stuff in the paper to adequately summarize here, it’s well worth the read.

Focusing on the meat of the research, the paper lists what Carousel says are the critical things to look for when finding a Managed Services Provider match:

First define your organization’s virtualization needs and success metrics. If you don’t do that it’s all a waste of time anyway. Done? Good.

Availability of proactive 24/7/365 support. A reputable MSP should not profit from problems, but from the avoidance of downtime. Does this company provide constant monitoring, with a complete network of pre- failure indicators designed to quickly alert you if a risk of failure is developing? Will they support your entire data and voice infrastructure, or only one aspect of it?

Depth of vendor-agnostic expertise. Be wary of large, single-vendor tools that lack the flexibility and customer support necessary to meet your organization’s unique needs. Instead, look for an MSP that offers vendor-agnostic expertise, selecting from among the finest vendors and industry technologies available to provide the best options for your business.

Industry reputation and satisfied customers. The right MSP for your business should be able to back up their claims with customer references and quantifiable success metrics. Ask for them.

Comprehensive reporting and communication. Does this MSP regularly collect operational data and have a clear, established process in place for converting that information into better purchasing and IT management decisions? Your final choice for MSP should be viewed as a collaborative extension of your IT organization, providing monthly status reports and quarterly business reviews, while continually reevaluating your IT network metrics and maintenance data to create better predictive models of your monthly budgetary needs.

Remote management. In reality, most problems that arise in IT infrastructures can be quickly identified and fixed from a remote location. Will your MSP require a steady onsite presence? If so, find out exactly why, and what benefits their presence will provide to your business.

Full security management. Will your MSP services include security management, such as firewall monitoring and patch applications? Do they offer remote data backup storage, preserving your most valuable data offsite at their network operations center?

Contracts and pricing. Carefully review your MSP’s contract terms before signing. Are promised discounts delivered at the start of the contract, or only upon completion of a long 5-10 year term of service? Is your MSP willing to contract a relatively short, 1-3 year introductory term of service that will better enable you to evaluate their performance and fit with your company?

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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