In previous blog posts, I covered different types of service providers and how the size of your enterprise and customer base influences your decision. In this post, based on my final article in a series for APMdigest, I cover some of the other factors that are critical to consider when looking for a service provider to fulfill your needs and benefit your business.
Beyond the technical considerations, there must always be an element of trust between the managed service provider and the business employing it.
After all, if you don’t trust the service provider, why are you giving them responsibility over your infrastructure? But that trust need not be blind – service providers that are able to provide visibility and control into their customers environments’ allow customers to “trust but verify,” and less has to be taken on faith. For cloud service providers, this is especially true.
The monitoring and management of these increasingly expansive, decentralized and fluid virtual environments is not easy. There needs to be adequate evidence of the processes, ability to port in and extract out one’s data, and more fundamentally, the option of a disaster recovery plan, even for SaaS services where customers care very little for the specifics of the architecture.
And just as service providers offer a variety of services, they have made different investments in disaster recovery plans and security in general.
You cannot take these things for granted; you need to be your own advocate and ask the right questions. Also, it can be incorrect to assume that your best service provider is one within local geography.
While geographic distance increases latency, and that can affect some applications, latency issues are not (typically) critical for productivity applications like email, CRM, Salesforce Chatter, or file sharing. Only very specific applications – usually real-time voice and video – are latency sensitive.
National and even international service providers willing to offer services that address your company’s challenges should be considered if latency is not an issue.
There is always a cost consideration, but having a service provider offering visibility into their infrastructure allows you to verify the value of what you receive for the cost you pay.
Indeed, the assurance that comes with knowing you’ve saved money, increased your flexibility, and can hold someone accountable to an SLA are perhaps the key reasons to use a service provider. Ask potential managed services for a test of their IT environment, for strong IT monitoring and management tools, and for an SLA.
Right now the research is pointing towards the benefits of using external service providers and cloud computing; it is no longer extraordinary or cost prohibitive. Rather, it is becoming an almost obligatory part of your strategy to reduce spending on IT systems while still recognizing that IT is fundamental to business today.
The best service providers enable your business services, give you the environment and tools to make smart commercial and operational business decisions, and finally allow you to focus on what you know best: your core business.
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