No matter how big or small your business is, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard the buzzwords “cloud computing” and “managed services” floating around. But just like every business owner who has little time to research or learn about these buzzwords, there’s some confusion about how cloud computing and managed services work. It’s important to know these terms and how the work since almost every business has an online predence these days. It is common for a company or an organization to have their own website that represents the face of the business. It’s also the place where customers come to check and find out about the company, the products and services offered and most importantly, make their purchase.
It’s also critical for an organization to have the necessary tools to make the business a success. Before you buy anything, you need to understand the difference between managed services and cloud computing.
Managed Services Defined
The MSP or managed service provider are the ones taking care of issues an internal or in-house IT team would typically manage and handle. Issues might include hardware maintenance and management, software updating and applying patches. The MSP assigns specific servers and other components to you, but the MSP assumes the responsibility of monitoring your network 24/7. The managed service provider solves your IT issues while you concentrate on the core processes in running your organization efficiently.
Managed services offers different services such as data backup and recovery, provides security audits and updates, system monitoring and management, email hosting and patch management. Managed services allow startup and small businesses to focus on more core tasks while MSPs ensure their system is properlly managed. MSPs also provide flat-rate, monthly fee plans that vary according to the services acquired by the business or the number of devices being managed.
Cloud Computing Defined
The word “cloud” is simply a metaphor for the internet. Cloud computing is defined as a variety of situations where the business programs and business data are stored and accessed over the internet as compared to being stored on an in-house server or hard drive. Cloud computing has 3 types – public, private and hybrid.
- Pubic cloud. Businesses get their own cloud within a server infrastructure that they share with other businesses. It’s an affordable off-site service where the provider is responsible for the maintenance and security of the system.
- Private cloud. Managed by an in-house IT team. This is best for businesses who want to have exclusive access and full control of their data.
- Hybrid cloud. Offers both public and private cloud privileges.
Cloud computing offers different kind of services, depending on the client’s needs. The most common services are called SaaS or Software-as-a-Service. By using SaaS, the cloud service provider provides the software or program over the internet to fulfill whatever the business requires. SaaS is commonly paid on a per-use basis and sometimes through a subscription. SaaS also provides updates, data backup and security enhancements.
10 Questions And 10 Considerations For Choosing A Managed Service Provider
Now that you have a basic idea about managed services and cloud computing, let’s focus on the things you need to know and ask before choosing your preferred MSP. The MSP of your choice should have years of experience, a good quality of work and should have provided for many businesses in the past.
10 questions you need to ask:
- Who will have access to my data?
- Where will my data be stored?
- What is the level of safety when moving my existing platform to the new one?
- What privileges are included in my service level?
- Are the security systems updated regularly?
- How do you separate my data from your other client’s data?
- Is your IT support available 24/7?
- Will there be training for employees to use the system and avoid security breaches?
- What is your disaster recovery procedure? Is my data protected?
- If I decide to expand my business, what will happen to my data?
10 considerations when choosing your MSP:
1. The reliability of the facility
One of the foundations of your decision should be how reliable the facility is. Unlike co-location services where you have access to the facility, for managing services you will rarely visit the data center. In fact, your MSP facility doesn’t need to be near your facility to provide their services. An excellent provider will help you design a solution and provide clear service agreements that they will be responsible and accountable for in order to meet all your service requirements.
For security, there are 2 kinds to consider – logical and physical. Logical security focus on the log in and access to your environment while physical security focuses on the actual data center where your data is housed. Security should be running 24/7 on-site with biometric scanners and video cameras. The provider should have physical access to your equipment and all access should be noted and logged.
3. The quality of the IP service
The data center should have a redundant electrical and cooling system. The facility should have an N+1 rating, meaning that the data center has the facilities to operate plus one full spare as a backup. You also need to know about the reliability and the redundancy of the internet connections. Being unable to send data when needed is a big punch in the gut for your business so make sure that all connections are strong.
4. Equipment quality
It is essential that the equipment should be relatively new, from a good brand and is supported by the manufacturer. You should also have the tech support of the manufacturer and the provider. You also need to know if the equipment is right for your business and if your provider has spares for backups.
5. Technical support
You have to make sure that your provider’s data and support centers are staffed at all times. Tech support should be reached by phone or email if any issues do occur. You also have to make sure that the trouble tickets are sent immediately to anyone that will physically check your equipment if a problem arises.
If you’re already satisfied with the physical aspects of the hosting environment, you need to take note of the equipment monitoring. Check providers who monitor the memory, CPU usage and allow you to check on the log files and running processes. This will help to know if your application is running and functioning properly.
7. Your potential for growth
Go to a provider that understands your business and will be there for you if you wish to expand in the future. They will help in upgrading, planning and executing the changes you need.
There are may ways to save money when choosing one provider over the other, but sometimes the cheapest provider isn’t the best for your business. It’s very important to understand the possible tradeoffs you’re making when you’re trying to save money. A cheap provider may lack support, have bad product lines, or provide an incorrect technical design that could end up being costly for your business.
9. Subscription plan
Take note of the different subscription or payment plans offered by managed service providers. Find out if there is a minimum subscription length for the types of services you’re considering. Asking if they include any history reports for you to review and records of errors to help you in maximizing the tools you have. Ask if the provider will be assigning a dedicated account manager or service consultant to judge their service level.
10. Data recovery
Most managed service providers are capable of providing disaster recovery protection, system testing and data backup. If your business depends on uninterrupted system access, then the provider can set up a service that will suit your needs. Choose a provider that has a retrievable cloud-based backup so you will not lose any valuable data if an outage or disaster happens. A top notch provider should be able to explain their disaster recovery plan clearly so that you will understand exactly the level risk involved.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to finding a provider that will fit your business needs. And as with any important business decision, it is essential to do your research and have a list of questions ready for your potential managed service provider.