How to Select the Right Managed Service Provider in the Era of Digitization

By: Ingo Janssen - Leave a comment


It’s not a question of if you’ll need to integrate cloud services into your enterprise, but when. Bringing the cloud into your IT enterprise will happen — it may be to increase flexibility and elasticity of today’s “systems of record,” or it may be to enable innovation and agility for your “systems of engagement” to support new business and collaboration models in a world where everything is digitized.

Regardless of the end goal, you will need to expand your IT capabilities with a managed service provider. And IaaS, PaaS or SaaS providers can all support this change.

Why Enterprises Need a Managed Service Provider

Integration of the cloud by a managed service provider (MSP) becomes just as important as operating and improving your IT landscape, and this will be a significant change to the entire IT enterprise. One of the crucial integration points is to have end-to-end service management — shifting from today’s “systems management” to tomorrow’s hybrid service management.

Keeping the IT service landscape in optimal performance alignment with the business requirements is complex, and it requires new skills and tools as well as changes in processes and organizational responsibilities. You may want to ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you ready to cope with these challenges at the required speed?
  • Can you provide your business with this speed and reliability before turning to a cloud provider, which could expose your company to new risks?

You might come to the conclusion that you can’t do this alone and need to have a MSP on your side. Keep in mind a good MSP will be flexible enough to support your transformation to the new hybrid IT operating model, and choosing the right one is key for a successful transformation.

10 Essential Characteristics for MSPs

In that respect, enterprises should consider following criteria when evaluating and selecting an MSP:

  1. Deep skills and experience. Go beyond the basic questions about certifications and headcount. Ask about scalability and availability of staff with specialized skillsets, how specialists are organized and share knowledge and how best practices are communicated.
  2. Proactive, technology-based approach. Find out whether the provider uses advanced analytics and insight-based automation technology, not only to increase efficiency but to proactively recognize and avoid potential problems.
  3. Alignment with industry best practices and IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) standards. Your service provider should employ industry best practices in managing all traditional and cloud resources — in particular, aligning with the ITIL approach to IT service management.
  4. Consistent processes, knowledge management and consolidated service visibility. Your service provider should have processes and knowledge management systems that are implemented and available for all staff at any location.
  5. Support for multivendor environments. A services provider should be truly neutral toward any infrastructure vendor or service provider working in your multivendor hybrid environment.
  6. Consistent global service delivery, with options for local resources. Choosing a managed service provider with global capabilities can position companies of all sizes for growth and expansion in today’s economy.
  7. Performance-based service-level agreements. The service provider should be willing to commit contractually to meeting your service-level requirements, including those for integrating a cloud services provider.
  8. Broad portfolio of managed services aligned to your business model. Make sure your service provider offers broadness, modularity and flexibility to fit with your business model and growth strategy — all of this in a pay-per-use model will grow with your business.
  9. Technology foresight and a path to innovation. Question how the MSP can act as a strategic advisor, leveraging proprietary insights, expertise, assets, partner network or experiences on future technological or market shifts.
  10. Financial stability and reputation. Your vendor’s financial stability is crucial, as they will be your long-lasting partner. Ask for proven customer references and quantified success metrics.

Whether it’s third-party infrastructure, a platform or piece of software, MSPs are designed to blend with an enterprise’s current operations while improving their access to data in a new cloud environment. To this end, these traits ensure your final selection can be a lasting and scalable partner.

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About The Author

Ingo Janssen

Go To Market & Portfolio Manager Systems Services DACH GTS, System Services, IBM