If you’re searching for a database managed service provider, congratulations are in order. You’re one step closer to being able to focus more fully on the strategic priorities of your business. But bear in mind that choosing the wrong provider could be worse than having no provider at all. To make the right decision about a managed service provider (MSP), there are dozens of questions you’ll need to ask. Here, I’ve distilled those questions into eight core points for discussion:
- What’s the provider’s track record?
Talk is cheap. Before you entrust your data to an MSP, ask about the challenges they’ve handled successfully in the past. You want a provider with proven competence and an interest in managing everything from a standard scope of work to emergencies and complex problems with mission-critical systems.
- How deep and broad are their capabilities?
The world’s march to the cloud is relentless, but there are still plenty of organizations using on-premises and hybrid frameworks. Make sure your MSP can understand your situation from day one. And, to that end, look for a provider whose experience can be measured in decades as opposed to years. Your database is too important for anyone to learn on the job.
- Who’s on their client list?
How many industries are on their resume, and in what verticals? Are they able to handle organizations of any size? You will, of course, ask for references, and the stature of each client will speak volumes about the credibility of the MSP. But be sure to ask about the length of those relationships, as well. One mishandled incident can mean termination for an MSP; a years-long relationship is undeniable evidence of the MSP’s reliability.
- How flexible is their service model?
Most MSPs offer a full suite of services, some of which you might not need. Look for an open-scope model that allows you to pick and choose your services. That à la carte menu should cover everything from the initial consultation, system design, and implementations all the way through to 24/7 incident handling and proactive management. Also, you should expect your MSP to invest in earning your trust. With month-to-month contracts, you’ll be free to increase, reduce, or cancel your commitment at any time.
- How compliant is their security?
As we learned from last year’s Cloud Hopper attack, managed service providers can be as vulnerable to hacking as any other organization. You can’t afford the risk. Ask for proof that your shortlisted provider is in compliance with standards like SOC 2 Type II, GDPR, or NYDFS 23 NYCRR 500. Not every MSP can afford to comply with those tough standards, and that’s kind of the point: If the provider can’t afford the audits, you can’t afford to trust their security.
- Can they promise dedicated support?
Some MSPs will offer an ever-changing lineup of consultants to serve your business. These people might be consummate professionals, but they won’t have the understanding and personal commitment that come from ongoing dealings with the customer. To ensure you get the most knowledgeable service, look for an MSP who is able to deliver a dedicated support team.
- How robust are their industry partnerships?
A competent MSP should be ready and able to deal on your behalf with all of your technology vendors. To be on the safe side, make sure your MSP can provide authorized support for all major cloud and on-premises platforms.
- How prominent are they in the industry?
Running lean and mean might be standard in most organizations today, but it’s a real red flag in your search for an MSP. You want a provider with the bandwidth to deliver exceptional service at any time. One measure of an MSP’s bench strength is its commitment to the technology industry as a whole. Look for a provider who offers added value through frequent blogs, media appearances, and speaking events.
Today, the choice of a managed service provider is one of the most consequential decisions an organization can make. Finding the right MSP starts with establishing just how much you’ll be able to rely on them when it really counts.