4 Questions to Ask Cloud Vendors Before You Buy
Managed service providers looking to transition their business to a predictable, recurring cloud-based model are faced with choosing a partner from among numerous cloud management vendors – and it’s important to recognize that not all are created equal.
Promises will be made about capabilities and expertise, and the MSP needs to understand what information is most important to ensure their cloud vendor can help them build a successful cloud business. If you’re an MSP looking for a new cloud vendor, these are the four questions you must ask before buying:
- Will your support model grow with me? Many cloud management vendors will claim their support is best-in-class when, in truth, it’s the Achilles’ heel of their business. Ask your vendor how many years it has been providing cloud support, its support team’s average tenure, and its standard support terms. If you feel its support can’t grow with you, don’t make the mistake of partnering with them even though other parts of their offering could be attractive.
- Does your solution directly affect connectivity for my customers? No MSP wants their customer environment to be inaccessible for any amount of time. It’s the bane of every MSP’s existence as it means your customer isn’t able to work, an influx of help desk requests come in and eventually connectivity loss leads to mistrust and lost customers. Some cloud management solutions mandate a custom desktop client that first connects to a portal and then passes the connection to the infrastructure in the public cloud. If that vendor’s product is down, your customer can’t authenticate and connect to their desktops. As an MSP, you can’t afford extra steps or software to stand in the critical path of your customer’s success. A better route is for your customers to connect to the public cloud using native tools without “checking in” first with your vendor.
- Do you support multiple cloud use cases? Not every customer comes to the cloud the same way. Some will move one workload at a time while others will forklift their entire business at once. If a vendor says, “we only support virtual desktops” or “we don’t support lift and shift,” it likely means their cloud solution is too narrow and you will inevitably run into scenarios they simply can’t support. Think carefully before you lock yourself into a vendor with only a one-point solution that isn’t broad enough to meet your customer’s true needs.
- Are you helping me make more money? In the world of cloud, technical expertise equates to table stakes. What separates the wheat from the chaff is a vendor whose solution can help an MSP expand its margins and make more money. Many vendors will lead a demo by showing you the top 10 features of their SaaS offering. By wowing you with the bells and whistles of their product, you’ll be led to a false sense of security where you believe the product will sell itself. This leaves you to figure out on your own how to make money selling and implementing your product. Does the vendor understand the cloud ecosystem well enough to walk you through a clear path to increasing your margins meaningfully? Does it have a channel-friendly approach where it passed leads to you from direct customers or offers marketing/sales support and industry insights? If not, you’re likely betting on the wrong solution and should instead look for a vendor who is going to put more profit in your pocket while also delivering a best-in-class product for your customers.
For an MSP, forging a relationship with the right cloud management vendor is an important step in transitioning your practice to the cloud and helping your customers reap its benefits. These few simple, but important, questions will go a long way toward building a foundation for your cloud practice’s success.
Joseph Landes is the chief revenue officer of Nerdio where one of his primary focuses is to significantly scale the Nerdio for Azure product and enable MSPs to build successful cloud practices in Microsoft Azure. Prior to joining Nerdio in 2018, Landes had a successful 23-year career at Microsoft, where he held senior leadership positions at the company’s corporate headquarters in Redmond as well as in Eastern Europe, India and Brazil. He brings a wealth of experience in international marketing, sales and business development, along with cloud product marketing. Landes also has written for leading channel and technology publications. Follow him on LinkedIn or @josephlandes or @GetNerdio on Twitter.