Thinking of moving to the cloud? Ask these 10 questions

Jan 4, 2024

IT infrastructure will increase in demand and use in 2024. Over 1,400 IT professionals were queried in late 2023 with 63% saying they’re recalibrating IT investments. Over the next 12 months, edge computing, private cloud, and public cloud will continue to increase as a percentage of workloads, while data centers, colocation facilities, and mainframes will decline.

That’s great news for an IT managed service business like that’s working in a competitive market. If you’re among business owners thinking about moving to the cloud in the New Year, keep in mind, not all providers are the same. It is critical to find the right professional partner because you’re giving someone the keys to keep the data and systems in your business safe and secure. Here are 10 questions our team often hears. Use them as your guide.

1. What’s the managed services company specialty?
There are dozens of managed IT services companies in Indianapolis. Services vary in size, scope and expertise. Are you looking for network testing and monitoring or data storage? Do you want cybersecurity experts or networking? Understand what you need to find a company that aligns with requirements. The provider’s technical strengths should be a good match for your needs. Also ask about compliance frameworks. For example, we work with CPAs and medical providers who require special consideration related to tax and health documentation.

2. What hardware is involved?
We recently heard from a prospect that their managed services provider proposed a $30,000 capital expenditure for servers. The business staffs about 15 people. That capital expense would have taken years to pay off and sat on the balance sheet. Before signing, know and understand if capital expenditures are required. A good expense, for example, would be updated computer or phone systems.

3. What’s the monthly fee, and what’s included?
Ask what’s included in the monthly fees. If you don’t understand the lingo, ask again for lay terms. Typical all-in fees should include software patching, network monitoring, upgrades, hardware installation and support tickets. Ask what might be missing that your business would require.

4. What’s the support process?
When interviewing providers, this is a critical question. Someone should be able to tell you not only the process, but how long it will take to hear from one of their representatives. When computers fail, it’s downtime for your business. Understand what’s involved to fix problems efficiently. Ask for specific instances where a company has provided support.

5. What is the recovery plan if technology falls apart?
A computer glitch will happen. Managed services professionals should be able to explain how they will get your team back up and running. Cloud-based services companies typically take a backup from a few hours prior to that glitch to restore data within the same business same day. In other cases, a partner may have to send someone to your business to fix the problem.

6. Is the company knowledgeable about the latest cybersecurity procedures?
Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. Data breaches make headlines regularly. Finding and partnering with a managed services provider that offers education and information to a business and its team is critical to keeping data safe. The managed services partner and your team should both know how to keep data safe using cutting edge best practices.

7. How much data and information can a company see and access?
Cloud-based managed services allow the client to set up user hierarchies. That’s a fancy term for deciding who can see what data is in your system. While an MSP is tasked with keeping data safe and technology running smoothly, a business owner doesn’t need to share all of their confidential information and should have control over access.

8. What’s the size and scale of client a company has as its partners?
Some MSPs work with Fortune 100 companies. Others, like our company, partner with small and mid-sized businesses. Ask about specialty verticals and range of skills. Also find out how quickly an MSP can scale your business up or down. If your business onboards new staff frequently, be sure the provider can support that growth.

9. Can I talk to clients who are successful and those who may have struggled with the transition?
Referrals always are a good way to find out if a prospective MSP partner lives up to their word. It’s always great to talk to a happy customer. Talking to a customer who had some bumps in the relationship will reveal if a company does what they say they’re going to do to fix a problem and create a long-term relationship.

10. What happens if the selected technology doesn’t work for our business?
Business relationships don’t always work. That should always be ok. A contract should have an out clause and provisions should be explained in advance in case a business needs to move to another provider.