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Will Next Generation Managed Service Providers energise your IT?

Robin Gardner

What is a Next Generation Managed Service Provider?

The reputation of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in the IT industry hasn’t always been favourable, but there is a new wave of MSPs emerging determined to change opinions. These next generation MSPs have re-imagined how they meet the day-to-day needs of customers managing modern IT platforms, yet also support strategic goals adding real value. Whilst generalist IT outsourcers continue to operate, next generation MSPs are coming to the forefront.

Crucially, ‘Next Generation’ Managed Service Providers offer a level of support that extend well beyond those available from a technology vendor.  Technology vendors offer support and guidance in dealing with ‘common use cases’, but as any IT Manager will know, when issues emerge that are out of the ordinary or require more in-depth knowledge of a particular environment, then vendor support tends to fall short.  Vendors are notoriously unwilling or unable to step too far into a customer’s environment. 

Modern MSPs will work in harmony with incumbent IT teams, rather than replace them. They add value, by plugging internal skills gaps and enriching knowledge and expertise within the organisation. The result is that organisations are enabled to better understand and manage the large scale, complex technologies they invest in, and unlock all the functionality that helps support strategic business initiatives.

With a worldwide shortage of IT skills and increased global investment in cloud and technologically advanced and extensible systems, like VMware Cloud Foundation it’s no wonder that more and more organisations are looking to invest in next generation MSPs. In fact, in a recent Forrester Consulting study ‘Optimise your cloud management strategy and succeed’ recently commissioned by Xtravirt and VMware identified that 86% of those surveyed either already worked with a Managed Service Provider for their cloud services or planned to engage within the next 12 months. 

To see all the other findings, download the full study here.

5 traits of a Next Generation Managed Service Provider

While the right MSP can deliver real competitive advantage, the wrong provider won’t enable your business to keep moving forward. Here are 5 “must have” characteristics that should be considered when evaluating an MSP:

Aligns to your needs

The right partner will show a genuine interest in your organisation and its long-term success. They will take the time to understand your goals and challenges, providing support in the areas that will deliver most value and benefit, whilst recognising the embedded skills.

Offers flexibility

It is crucial in today's evolving and fast paced environment to have a strategy and operating model that is scalable and flexible. A next generation partner will provide a service and delivery model to meet this necessity - giving comfort that if you need to adjust, your hands are not tied.

Helps manage your risk

Managing your risks and evidencing your compliance can be an arduous challenge if not done on an ongoing basis. Does your service provider understand this need and give regular updates to simplify your responsibilities, or just list their compliance with a collection of industry standards?

Ensures you get value from your investment

Major transformation programs increasingly provide organisations with access to technology that has functionality way beyond the initial go-live scope. As transition completes and adoption stabilises, does your partner sit back and watch the money roll in, or explore opportunities to help you obtain more from your investment over its lifecycle?

Live up to their claims

Next generation partners add value because of the depth of their skill set and their knowledge of your environment. If you are quickly moved from the initial onboarding support team to a steady state team that lacks true specialist knowledge then that value is quickly lost.

Is your IT function at risk of imploding?

The demands these days on IT are relentless as business growth and operational efficiencies become heavily reliant on technology solutions.  As IT converges, IT engineers are expected to have ever broader, ever deeper skills and keep pace with rapid business change. It’s almost impossible for them to keep up with the demands put on them, so instead they are forced to focus only on the areas of highest perceived business value.

When IT teams are over-stretched, a common pitfall can be to assume that because technology appears to be stable and outages are few and far between, then it is assumed that everything is ok. Many fall into the ‘stability trap’ and lose focus when it comes to performing regular maintenance checks and fixes.  Therefore, when issues do present themselves, they are more likely to be more serious and have the potential to cause significant damage.   

The Stability Trap

Ask yourself these important questions:

  • When was the last time critical systems were patched?
  • Have you reviewed the production information or security, performance, and availability risks recently to ensure that everything was being well maintained? (Most vulnerability scans will not provide this information for you.)
  • Does your team panic the month before the auditors come in and raise a mountain of change requests to bring everything back under control?
  • Are you continually being asked to prioritise change activity against operational responsibilities?

If any of these questions made you feel uneasy, then it might be time to take a fresh look at what next generation MSPs could bring to your business.  

When is the right time to engage with a Managed Service Provider?

There is no better time to get in touch than now. Whether you have a concern over a key person dependency, risk exposure as a result of missed maintenance, or the desire to release your internal team to support higher priorities, an early conversation can start to frame out what a service engagement might look like.  Talking to companies like Xtravirt will help lay out options for a target operating model, define the best approach to transition, and inform the business case.

Xtravirt Managed Services

Our family of managed services subscriptions for VMware-based environments are designed to be different. Whether you are still evaluating your migration to the cloud, want to maintain the benefits of the cloud or are now facing operational cloud challenges, Xtravirt Managed Services (XMS) can help. Learn how our next generation managed services built on industry leading VMware expertise can keep your cloud investments and delivering value in our XMS brochure here.

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