Technology is advancing so rapidly these days that it can be difficult for service providers to keep up. In all aspects of their business, from back-office IT systems to the network and to customer interactions, service providers have to cope with an accelerated rate of change triggered by the shift to software-centric networking and relentless competition from web-scale rivals. That’s why many service providers turn to managed services as an effective way to free up resources that can be spent on developing revenue-generating services that their customers value.
Of course, the concept of managed services isn’t new, as some service providers have been outsourcing the operations of business critical systems for years. But even with previous experience, getting started on a new managed services program and choosing the right managed services provider can be daunting. So to make those decisions somewhat easier, I’d like to share what I think are the most important things to look for when choosing a managed services provider.
One of the most important things to look for in a managed services provider is its ability to deliver services across a wide array of applications, ranging from its own areas of expertise to those of third-party suppliers and partners. Managed service providers must be able to provide the managed services not only for their own applications but also for other interfacing systems. This requires comprehensive domain expertise and deep knowledge from years for experience. The provider also needs to have the flexibility to accommodate a variety of service models, including client-hosted services, cloud services, geographically diverse hosting as well as build-operate-transfer models.
It’s incredibly important for a managed services provider to have a strong program for supporting the transition to managed services. It should have a proven services portfolio that covers every step of the program, from the initial consultation to designing the business processes with a long-term roadmap to integrating the planning, delivery and implementation of the services model. This program should also include setting up and establishing all operational processes, tools and governance models well before the customer’s environment is moved into production.
Once the services are live, what is the managed services provider’s commitment to delivering evolving production operations? A managed service provider needs to demonstrate that it is dedicated to continually improving its processes, which will ensure that customers get the best quality possible. This approach to continuous improvement must include incorporating innovative processes and technologies. This will enable service level growth in parallel with operational efficiencies. Furthermore, alignment to new and evolving industry standards is critical to keep pace with the technology, communications and services industries.
Consistency is another critical attribute for managed services providers. They must have a unified way of providing services across all of the customers in their portfolio. This unified approach creates a platform on which to build efficiencies and improvements that benefit all customers. Over time, this will also allow for repeatability, auditability and better service levels for all customers. Consistent, unified processes ensure that services are delivered efficiently and with the highest quality.
When opting for a hosted managed services model, it’s important to look for advanced hosting capabilities. An example is zero downtime solutions, whereby the managed services provider guarantees to keep applications running at all times, even during routine system maintenance. Other features include active-active solutions that allow business-critical applications to be split across multiple data centers that are geographically distributed and load balanced for improved business continuity.
Want learn more about Netcracker's Managed Services? Start here at our Managed Services page.
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