June 2, 2010

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Picking A Partner: 6 Criteria For Selecting An MSP: Part 3

In the previous post in this series, I wrote about 2 more of the 6 areas you should give consideration to when choosing a Managed Services Provider (MSP). I went over some questions to ask your potential partner when looking at the MSP's professional staff and their certifications, as well as what you might take into consideration when looking at the partnerships the MSP has within the industry. Whether you are an enterprise IT manager or a business owner you need to consider what level of best practices and professional developlemt your potential partner is committed to, as you want to make sure your MSP is as dedicated to what they do as your are to running your business. We also discussed Service Level Agreements, and how important they are, since you want to be sure that your MSP is ready to stand behind what they promise. In this third and final post in this series I am going to go over the last two criteria you should keep in mind, which focus on the operational capabilities of the MSP.

5. Network Operations

You are going to be relying on your MSP to keep you connected to your customers, partners and employees. You need to make sure that the MSP is providing 24-7-365 operational support on all of the managed services. Does the MSP provide such support? Do they do so from redudant, physically seperate locations? Is their Network Operations Center (NOC) staffed with certified professionals? Does the MSP proactively monitor data, voice and security services from the NOC? Do they offer tools and portals so that you can directly monitor your managed services? Will you be automatically alerted if there are any events that effect your service? Is your MSP using advanced Network Management Systems (NMS) and Operational Support Systems (OSS) in the NOC?

6. Security Operations

Security operations are critical to the success of any business in the current environment. You need to be sure that the MSP you select is capable of preventing security issues from interfering with your business, and that they can keep your data and ongoing communications secure. Does you MSP operate a Security Operations Center (SOC)? Does the MSP offer a turnkey Managed Security Service (MSS) that takes a comprehensive multi-layer approach? Does the MSP offer security alerting, logging, and reporting? Do they provide visibility in security operations via a web based customer portal?

It is my hope that you will take these six criteria in hand when evaluating which Managed Services Provider you will entrust with your business communcation needs. We have put together a whitepaper entitled How to Choose a Managed Network Services Provider [PDF] that we hope you find useful as you make your evaluation.

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