Managed Cloud Services Providers

In this guide we consider the qualities to look for in a managed cloud services provider, and questions to ask before engaging them to handle cloud-based operations.

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A managed cloud services provider acts as a partner in the maintenance and improvement of cloud-based environments. Important tasks are handled by experienced engineers via ad hoc emergency support or ongoing management of parts of the estate.

Benefits of working in this way can be huge, especially for organisations that have recently moved to the cloud or those undergoing largescale migration.

Managed cloud services engineers know exactly what’s needed to maximise uptime, compliance, security and cost control. They make it easier to work effectively in the cloud, as well as avoiding potential problems and quickly rectifying emerging issues.

Engaging a managed cloud services provider will:

  • Inject expert cloud knowledge to improve efficiency and reduce costs
  • Embed lean principles allowing you to scale support as needed
  • Enhance agility as you focus more effort on your core business
  • Improve resilience with access to support on a 24/7 basis if required
  • Foster best practice with knowledge of emerging tools and tech

How is this different to traditional managed services?

A good managed cloud services company will feel more like a partner than a provider. They’ll collaborate with your in-house team, and you’ll most likely have a single point of contact as well as a dedicated squad.

Because they are well-versed in modern, digital-native principles, managed cloud services engineers react quickly to emerging issues. They work proactively to drive continuous improvement. And they share new learnings and insights that could benefit your organisation.

This is a world away from traditional managed services providers that were renowned for operating at arm’s length and taking a long time to respond to requests.

What does good look like?

Offloading the burden of cloud management and maintenance is an attractive prospect. However, you need to be sure that the managed cloud services provider you’re working with will deliver.

Here are three key qualities to look for:

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Proven expertise

Expect to see recent testimonials and case studies

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Qualified engineers

Look for evidence of industry-accreditations and certifications

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Partnership approach

Find out how they collaborate, for instance, will they join your sprint planning and retros?

Interrogate the offering

Ask direct questions about the provider’s experience, standards, day to day practices and costs to ensure your expectations are aligned with what the service will deliver.

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Experience

  • Find out which cloud providers and services they are familiar with.
  • Ask what type of organisation they typically work with, in terms of size and growth stage.
  • Sector-specific knowledge is important too, especially if you work in a highly regulated field like finance or healthcare.
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Standards

  • Security is a vital consideration, both in terms of cloud-based security expertise and the provider’s own security protocols.
  • Ensure response times and other SLAs are adequate for your organisation’s needs. Ask for metrics related to the other organisations they support.
  • Ask what they do as a business to ensure individual engineers keep up with cloud vendor changes and new open-source tools.
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Day to day

  • Find out who your main contact will be; ask if you can meet them and the engineers who will be responsible for your account.
  • Ask what type of organisation they typically work with, in terms of size and growth stage.
  • It’s useful to know how the provider handles monitoring and alerts and any third-party tools used to support this.
  • Check that you will retain full access to cloud platforms that they are managing.
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Payment models

  • Look closely at the payment structure and consider whether the costs will be predictable and fair.
  • Will the service itself meet your needs in a cost-effective way? And will the provider manage your environment to minimise cloud costs while optimising performance?

Part of the team

A managed cloud services provider should feel like part of the team, caring for your cloud environment as if it were their own. They should feel energised and inspired by the rapidly evolving world of cloud computing. If your provider of choice ticks these two boxes as well as offering practical skills, knowledge and experience, you’re on to a winner.

Need a partner to help manage your cloud infrastructure? Take a look at our Cloud Management services.