May 21, 2010

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Picking A Partner: 6 Criteria For Selecting An MSP: Part 2

Posted By Michael Francois

CCIE 10 Year, CCIE, MSCP, MSP, Cisco, MegaPathLast week, in part 1 of this series, I wrote about 2 of the 6 areas you should give consideration to when choosing a Managed Services Provider (MSP). I went over how a business owner or enterprise IT manager should look at the service offerings that their potential MSP brings to the table, and discussed what to look for in the potential partner's network infrastructure and capabilities. As someone who owns and operates your own business, and is an expert in your field, you really need to make sure your partner is an expert in what they do as well, and makes use of industry best practices. If you are a decision maker on technology matters for your enterprise business, this also holds true, as you want to be sure your MSP is in a position to offer a robust and complete service with a high level of quality. This week, I am going over two more criteria you should have in mind as you make your evaluation.

3. Certifications and Partnerships

The partner you pick is going to provide a vital service to your business operation. You want to be sure that the MSP's staff, as well as their partners, are ready and up to the task. Does the MSP encourage the professional development of their staff? Does the MSP have industry certified experts who are able to leverage the latest technological advancements? Does the MSP work with major equipment vendors, that have proven themselves in the marketplace? Does the MSP execute proven industry best practices? Can they provide for you a list of team members who hold professional and industry certification from goups like ITIL, CompTIA, (ISC)² and PMI, as well as form vendors such as Cisco, Juniper, Microsoft, SonicWall/Aventail and IBM?

4. Service Level Agreements

You need to make sure thay you can rely on the data, security and voice services your MSP is going to provide. The best way to do this is to see what your partner will put into writing regarding service level assurances (SLAs). Does the MSP publish SLA info on their website? Are the SLAs included in your contract? Does the SLA provie a rememdy if the level of service is not met? Does the MSP offer specific SLAs for specific products and services? Are you elligible to recieve credits in the event of a service outage?

There are two other criteria that I am going to cover next week in the third and final part of this series. Be sure to check back so that you have the complele list as you evaulate your potential partner.

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