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Quest for the Right MSP

Nishant Sharma | 21 May 2019 | Managed Services, Newsletter

If you are reading this blog chances are you have already started the Cloud journey, experienced benefits and looking to accelerate returns. You are not alone in this pursuit as many businesses are increasingly moving workloads to the Cloud. According to Gartner public Cloud market is expected to experience exponential growth until 2022 growing more than 17 % growth during 2018 to 2019 up from USD 184.2 billion in 2018 to 214.3 billion in 2019—indicating a steady adoption of Cloud services for complex deployments.
Clearly the Cloud juggernaut is on its way but what remains to be seen is how well businesses manage the progress. Will business be able to exploit the promise of Cloud and take advantage of agility, continuous improvement, on-the-fly innovation while using infrastructure and services as disposable resources. The question that begs answer is what strategy will be most appropriate—should businesses manage deployments on its own; should businesses employ third party such as an MSP or should it be a combined approach?
Choosing the right MSP is critical to navigate the next phase of the journey. A good start to the quest would be due diligence of certifications and credentials. While these may be specific to Cloud providers, it establishes capabilities as certifications undergo rigorous audit.
Based on our experience across a wide variety of customers we put together few questions to keep in mind while looking for the right partner. Each MSP has specific strengths and businesses must keep its objectives in mind while looking for the appropriate partner.

Support for wide variety of services: Cloud opens up possibilities by empowering organizations with new capabilities. For example customer experience assume new dimensions in Cloud enabling to stream images and videos based on real-time demands and events. Accuracy of promotional campaigns increase with insights from different sources enabling to tweak offers and innovate on the fly—possibilities enabled by MSPs with good understanding of Cloud ecosystem and strong integration capabilities.
How do I know my applications and data are secure: Security concerns continue to plague enterprises as Cloud extends enterprise boundaries beyond the firewall. The important thing to remember is security in the Cloud is a shared responsibility wherein the infrastructure provider takes care of the physical security of datacentre and underlying hardware while the customer must take responsibility of application and data—defining who to allow access, who to prevent, how to allow access and what tools are appropriate to establish user credentials.
On the operational side customers must gather requirements for security and compliance and verify whether Cloud provider meets with those. Then check credentials of MSP experience and capabilities to deliver specific security and compliance requirements.
How do I ensure continuous compliance: Ensuring continuous compliance in Cloud is critical as environments are fluid, resources immutable and services easily available. This means each time a deployment occurs it must be compliant and adhere to internal standards. MSPs must facilitate businesses to ensure workflow, processes and governance is monitored and implemented even as new services are added or consumed independently.
Automation of repeatable tasks: A key differentiator of working in Cloud is the availability of extensive automation via tools, API calls and immutability of resources. Repeatable tasks such as patching and back-ups including changes and iterations are automated in the Cloud unlike traditional environment where change is effected during production. Cloud relies on instancing wherein service/application components are assembled on computing resources and an iteration is launched with a new set of components releasing the old resources. The advantage is that it restricts possibilities of changing configuration; reduces vulnerabilities and enhances compliance; and delivers higher uptime because instances are redeployed instead of restored.
Flexibility: Experienced Cloud MSPs understand customer’s business objectives to align best solutions and approaches to meet with those goals. Sometimes it may be a trade-off between two conflicting objectives but a mature MSP can walk the tightrope to balance those priorities. Often this entails stepping out of the comfort zone and this is where the adaptable MSP scores over the average ones to come out as the winner.
Working with an MSP has inherent advantages—they are experts who understand nuances, know different services; have invested in build capabilities because enabling Cloud is core to their business. An experienced MSP will distinguish with detailed checklists, playbooks, runbooks, standard operating procedure manuals.
Equally important is the customer should know business objectives and clearly articulate goals so you can work with MSP as the trusted partner. Cloud is a journey and MSP engagement adds value at different stages empowering the business with appropriate capabilities while optimizing cost and performance at all times.

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