10 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Cloud Managed Service Providers

10 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Cloud Managed Service Providers

What are the questions you need to ask when evaluating a cloud managed service provider? As cloud platforms and solutions become more complex, businesses are looking more and more to managed service providers to help operate their cloud infrastructure. In celebration of our Cloud Insight Jam, we’ve listed 10 critical questions that businesses need to ask when they’re considering a managed service provider for their cloud solutions. These include questions that businesses need to ask a potential managed cloud service provider as well as themselves during the evaluating process.

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Questions your business needs to ask itself

What are my business needs for the cloud?

If you’re adopting the cloud into your enterprise, you need a solid business reason for doing so. What do you want to accomplish in the cloud, and how will the solutions you deploy help you achieve it? You should have an answer to this question before you consider potential managed service providers. This way, you’ll know whether or not a specific provider can help you satisfy your needs for using the cloud and what kind of support they can provide.

Is it cost efficient to invest in a cloud managed service provider?

One of the main reasons why a company chooses managed services is to reduce and/or optimize its spending in the cloud. Your enterprise should assess whether or not a managed service provider will help reduce cloud costs in the long run. Soliciting a cloud managed service provider may not necessarily be cheaper than running the cloud on your own, but an MSP can help you optimize your cloud spending based on your cloud goals and reduce unnecessary costs.

How far along is my business in its cloud transformation strategy?

It’s likely that your company has deployed some cloud solutions or migrated some applications and workloads to the cloud already. When evaluating cloud managed service providers, your company needs to assess where you currently are in your cloud transformation strategy and where you want/expect to be. From there, you can narrow down managed service providers based on the services they provide and the services your business needs to advance its cloud transformation.

What do I need from a cloud platform?

Cloud has the potential to contribute great success to enterprises that use it properly. Companies in healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, life sciences, and much more rely on the cloud for essential business tasks — and they all have specific requirements for what the cloud needs to do for them. Managed service providers build platforms that make it easier for businesses to use the cloud; figuring out what specific strengths you need will help whittle down the field of options.

How long do I want the partnership to last?

Your relationship with a managed service provider is meant to be a partnership. You and your provider need to have a mutual understanding of how long that partnership is going to last. Some enterprises may have a specific time frame in mind, but others might want to work with their managed service provider indefinitely. This time frame should align with your business goals for the cloud and how long until you expect them to be achieved.

Our MSP Buyer’s Guide contains profiles on the top cloud managed service providers for AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, as well as questions you should ask vendors and yourself before buying. We also offer an MSP Vendor Map that outlines those vendors in a Venn diagram to make it easy for you to select potential providers.

Questions your business needs to ask potential providers

How can my business add cloud services?

You may enter into an agreement with a managed service provider to fulfill a single goal, but then end up wanting more down the line. For example, many enterprises think that they just need help migrating their data and applications onto the cloud, but later realize they want to add automation to their workloads. Since your initial agreement will only cover the services you start with, understanding how adding services affects your partnership in terms of cost and support is crucial.

What security services does the managed service provider deliver?

When you incorporate a managed service provider into your cloud deployment, you need to make sure they have strong security systems to keep your data safe. Every service provider should have native security protocols and strategies in place to protect your cloud environment from both internal and external security threats. This also applies to data compliance; a managed service provider should disclose any and all data regulations that they are able to comply with.

Does the service provider support hybrid cloud/multicloud?

More and more businesses are designing hybrid cloud and multicloud infrastructures, and you need to make sure that your potential managed service providers support these deployments. Some providers only support one public cloud vendor, while others manage multiple cloud providers; some are able to manage your on-prem infrastructure in addition to your cloud. Knowing what an MSP supports upfront will help your enterprise determine the providers that will work for your enterprise.

Is the service provider likely to grow in the immediate future?

The cloud managed services market is still in its relative infancy, which means that many managed service providers are likely to expand their business within the next few years. As providers continue to grow, businesses need to know what their potential managed service providers currently offer, what services they plan to offer in the future, and when they intend to deploy them. Knowing a service provider’s roadmap allows you to know what they can and can’t provide immediately.

How easy is it to switch cloud managed service providers?

You might find after working with a managed service provider for a while that they just aren’t right for you. It happens more often than you think, but if you don’t plan for this scenario beforehand, the cost of moving from one provider to another could be high. MSPs should outline an exit strategy in their service level agreement (SLA); this will let you know how the MSP will assist your enterprise in successfully transitioning away from their services.

Looking for information on managed service providers for your cloud solutions? Our MSP Buyer’s Guide contains profiles on the top cloud managed service providers for AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, as well as questions you should ask vendors and yourself before buying. We also offer an MSP Vendor Map that outlines those vendors in a Venn diagram to make it easy for you to select potential providers.

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Daniel Hein

Dan is a tech writer who writes about Enterprise Cloud Strategy and Network Monitoring for Solutions Review. He graduated from Fitchburg State University with a Bachelor's in Professional Writing. You can reach him at dhein@solutionsreview.com
Daniel Hein