It’s 2018. Here’s what to look for now in a managed/hosted services provider Posted on February 22, 2018 by Tim Burke In my last post, I listed five ways that managed/hosted services providers can help power the IT-driven competitive advantage organizations need. Here’s what those providers must deliver in order to… 1 Flexibly choose and integrate customized IT solutions …ranging from disaster recovery or remote backup to network/application management services and all-cloud or hybrid cloud/in-house infrastructures. Thanks largely to cloud technologies, flexible, customizable hybrid solutions mixing public and private clouds, various managed/hosted services, and in-house infrastructures have become affordable and can help you deploy new capabilities – such as the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) – that are already moving beyond early adopters into the competitive mainstream. To position your business for competitive advantage, you’ll need a cloud-capable managed/hosted services provider with both the breadth and depth of capabilities needed to wrestle the rigid offerings of hyperscale public cloud providers and mainline product vendors into customized IT solutions configured to your particular needs. 2 Improve management of cloud capabilities …including multi-cloud services – thus reducing waste, complexity, and risk while boosting performance and reliability. Many organizations – perhaps most – use several cloud services. Generally, these are unintegrated and managed independently of each other. The result is waste – from paying for idle cloud resources, duplication of management efforts, missed discount opportunities, and so on. Seek a managed/hosted services provider with the expertise to field their own cloud services, support a broad set of cloud environments, and assess their clients’ current situation to identify both weaknesses (such as potential single points of network failure) and opportunities to automate (for instance, with self-service capabilities), consolidate, and improve resource use. 3 Set up better enterprise-wide governance of IT resources …regardless of where they’re located or who owns them. The right managed/hosted services provider can rationalize management of your various cloud and managed services and even organize it all into a single, overarching, customizable service level agreement (SLA) that can reduce waste and be far easier to monitor. 4 Overcome lack of in-house IT resources and staffing …and access leading-edge expertise whenever you need it. Look for a managed/hosted services provider committed to sustaining deep technical expertise no matter how fast the bleeding edge leaps forward – and committed to delivering the technical and customer support you need when you need it. 5 Strengthen IT security …and meet compliance standards. Your managed/hosted services provider should not only offer a range of IT security offerings to help you protect your data, apps, and networks but also be able to show you how they protect the cloud and services infrastructures they operate and rely on. IT resources have never been more important in the everlasting quest for competitive advantage. The right managed/hosted services provider – cloud-capable and with deep technical and business expertise – can help you make the most of yours.