Cloud Managed Services – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of selecting a provider

Managed cloud services can be the bridge that spans the gap between internal resources and the IT department’s needs. The right provider offers not only applications and infrastructure, but the expertise to augment your staff, and to manage resources to meet your business’s needs and goals.
— Frost & Sullivan, "Cloud-Based Managed Services: Tips for Selecting a Provider that Can Help You Re-Tool Your IT Department"

The good news is you have more options than ever to outsource management of cloud than ever before. The bad news is the complexity of comparing different cloud managed services from prominent cloud service providers and determining what offerings best address your business and technical objectives. The Ugly is what could go wrong if you don’t choose carefully.

So, what should you consider when evaluating cloud managed service providers? According to Frost & Sullivan the following should top your list of evaluation criteria.

Core expertise in both infrastructure and workload as well as in application management and professional services to align cloud services with business goals and objectives.

Support for multiple hardware types and hypervisors to match the right type of infrastructure to the deployed workload to ensure maximum efficiency and performance.

Hybrid management expertise to split workloads or data between different physical and virtual environments enabling integration and connectivity between disparate platforms and applications.

Customizable services and SLAs that guarantee specific service parameters, and customize and tailor services based on your business outcomes.

Migration Services that are both standardize and automate the data migration process, in order to decrease costs and risk associated with the migration to while minimizing disruption to the business.

Robust security features, expertise and capabilities that exceed what you can do within your own organization. Providers should also offer features integrated redundancy or disaster recovery capabilities to ensure access to workloads and data at all times.

Comprehensive compliance assurance and reporting that align with regulations governing your business in order to avoid costly fines and penalties.

 Robust portfolio of managed services to assist with professional services tasks like environment configuration, IT or cloud governance, or management of specialized workloads, such as ERP or CRM.

For an in depth comparison of cloud managed services providers and capabilities check out the Frost & Sullivan white paper Cloud-Based Managed Services:Tips for Selecting a Provider that Can Help You Re-Tool Your IT Department. Another helpful resource is the IBM e-book Cloud Managed Services: A comparison guide - What to look for when choosing your cloud provider.