Enterprise Cloud Migration: 5 Things to Consider When Hiring a Cloud MSP

June 28 2016 | by Yoav Mor

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The cloud promises huge potential for modernizing IT practices, making operational efficiencies and driving innovation within an organization. But making the transition to the on-demand IaaS model is a complex undertaking. This can be a major logistical headache for an enterprise built around traditional IT arrangements, which doesn’t have the in-house cloud expertise to deal with the technical challenges involved.

One solution to this problem is to hire a dedicated cloud managed service provider (MSP). An MSP with specialist cloud knowledge and experience can offer much-needed insight to ensure your migration is a successful one. They can help you identify which applications are right for cloud. They can help you make the best use of the services and features cloud vendors have to offer. And they can save you the time and money needed to learn new technologies from scratch. This will reduce the risk of running into problems, keep time-sensitive migrations on schedule and minimize the risk of project abandonment. Not only that, but it will free up more time within your organization to grow the business.

But choosing the right cloud MSP isn’t simple. Many traditional MSPs have only just started moving into the cloud arena and may not have the business scale or depth of experience to oversee an enterprise-level cloud migration. So, in this post, we look at five important points you need to consider when choosing an MSP to migrate your applications and manage your cloud.

1. Cloud Expertise

With the rapid growth of the cloud, the IT industry has seen an explosion in the supply of companies touting their cloud management services. But not all cloud MSPs are created equal. Some are merely old-school IT management services that have the jumped on the cloud bandwagon without any real track record of success or in-depth cloud expertise. Others may specialize in one particular vendor platform. But, with such a highly concentrated skill set, they could make you more vulnerable to vendor lock-in or may not have the broader cloud knowledge and experience needed for complex hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

With mission-critical enterprise applications, you cannot afford to compromise. So look for a cloud MSP that holds a high level of accreditation with at least two cloud vendors. For example, AWS has literally thousands of partners, but only several have been independently audited and qualify for the Premier Partner tier. In the case of Microsoft Azure, you should aim for companies with Gold Partner standard of competency.

2. Traditional IT Expertise

Cloud skills are only one-half of the expertise equation. You also need an MSP with traditional IT knowledge—to bridge the gap between the old and the new.

Born-in-the-cloud companies may be the perfect partner for building entirely new applications in the cloud. But they’ll quickly come up short when it comes to the practicalities, such as compatibility and security, of migrating legacy applications based on old and unfamiliar technology.

3. Traditional MSP Skills

Not only should your partner offer the right mix of new and old-guard IT skills, they should also have proven ability to provide a highly professional customer-focused service. So pay close attention to the basics, such as service level agreements, the level of helpdesk support, security credentials and compliance experience.

You also want a partner that’s in a stable and financially healthy position. So make sure you qualify your provider in terms of long-term financial viability. This should include checking it has a good distribution of revenue from a broad and balanced spread of clients.

4. Automated Processes

The agile nature of the cloud is what makes it such an attractive alternative to traditional IT. But this can only come by reducing operational complexity through automation.

An MSP with this know-how will save your developers the headache of learning new automation technologies from scratch. They’ll set up and maintain deployment pipelines for you, automating your DevTest processes so developers can spin up ready-made configured environments in a matter of minutes. That way, developers will hit the ground running and start taking advantage of DevOps tools straight away.
More specifically, your MSP should have experience using tools, such as containers and ChatOps, which are designed to bridge traditional gaps between development and operations. Through well-executed automation and orchestration processes, they’ll significantly reduce the time and effort in migrating to and running on the cloud.

5. Controlled Usage and Billing

The switch from the CAPEX to OPEX model brought about by cloud adoption presents enterprise IT with both financial risks and opportunities. A traditional MSP will do little more than send you your monthly bill and leave you to do the dirty work. By contrast, an experienced and competent cloud specialist will implement strategies and tools to monitor costs and ensure you have complete visibility over your cloud performance, usage, and monthly expenditure.

They’ll also put measures in place to guard against uncontrolled usage, or cloud sprawl, and will regularly review your cloud to identify growth opportunities, forecast future compute requirements and make cost projections accordingly.

In a way, your partner will act like a cloud broker. Acting on your behalf, they’ll continually survey the marketplace, implementing cost-saving strategies such as purchasing Reserved Instances and looking for new and favorable pricing structures. Ultimately, you want an efficient MSP that keeps their own costs down and can grow your cloud without growing your costs at the same rate.

Look Beyond the Marketing Talk

Hiring a cloud MSP is a big decision for any enterprise—all the more so when you’re making huge changes to the way you run your IT. That’s why it’s so important you look beyond the marketing talk and conduct your own research before entering into an agreement.

The right partner will understand your industry. They’ll also ask the right questions and thoroughly understand your IT requirements and business objectives. And they’ll use that insight to improve workflows and help you make informed strategic IT decisions.

Finally, they need to have a proven track record. In other words, a cloud MSP you can trust. So ask yourself whether your prospective partner is a company you can really work with—because you’re making a long-term commitment and entering into an intimate working relationship.

Take a look at Cloudyn for MSPs

Cloudyn’s MSP Edition is an innovative SaaS monitoring, optimization and analytics platform. It enables Cloud Service Brokers and cloud-based Managed Service Providers to monitor their own, as well as their customers’ cloud deployments, to optimize capacity planning and pricing for increased profit margins, and to create new revenue streams by offering their customers Cloudyn-powered value-added services
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