What is a next-gen managed service provider, and how can you choose one?

ITProPortal spoke to Darron Antill, CEO of Intrinsic, about how managed services can make your business more cost-effective and skills-effective, as well as how you can choose the right managed services provider (MSP).

So what problems are the next-gen MSPs trying to solve?

I think people continue to use IT as either a business enabler, or a differentiator, or because they have to. More and more organisations now are looking to outsource either the core skills they don't want to keep in-house, or the experts that they quite frankly don't want to bring in-house.

I think more and more companies are trying to provide business agility, and to create more value for their business rather than managing the classic IT systems. In the past, people would refer to IT managers as "server huggers", for instance.

But it's not just about reducing costs – I think that has been one of the main goals in the past, if you go back 5 or 6 years – but now they're trying to work with organisations to actually de-risk their situation and help them, bringing their experience to the fore.

We see people now asking for managed service providers to manage not so much the network, but also the whole system – and not just manage it 24/7, but actually fix it when it goes wrong. People now are looking for a true managed service, not just a selective managed service.

So are managed services the future?

When you talk about the future, for me a good managed services provider will manage these hybrid IT environments – and what I mean by hybrid is that they have their traditional on-premise systems that they can upgrade and develop, but then more and more people are also looking to migrate to cloud-based IT, and organisations need a provider to help them with that migration and that journey, but they also want someone to help them manage those cloud-based on-premise and off-premise consumption models.

We now see people looking to integrate both on-premise and off-premise data systems, because the users demand it – because people want to use one device, because it makes them more agile.

What challenges is the new era bringing in for organisations?

In the mid-market, companies don't usually have sophisticated or large IT teams, so they're challenged by IT resources, and the increasing demands placed on them not just by the business, but by the users.

Workforces are now driving the agenda of what's required – BYOD is one of the key things pushing that change, as people want to bring their own device to work. But people really want is true mobility, true agility – getting access to their on-premise data as well as any off-premise. People want to blur the line between their personal world and the corporate world.

What we're also seeing in the public sector specifically is that IT departments have larger budgets now, and actually get funding allocated if they undertake cloud-based initiatives.

So what are the first things businesses should consider when choosing a managed services provider?

At the end of the day, a MSP has to understand the business requirements of the customer. You have to understand whether they're people-drive or costs-driven?

Businesses should ask themselves: does this MSP have the experience? Does it have an existing portfolio of customers and references that show it's able to manage these kinds of environments? And then you should really look at the scale of what this company can provide? Do they run a 24/7 operation?

Many operators say they have a 24/7 system, but then they don't have the call centre environment, and the skilled people available through the night to solve a problem when it arises. So quality and standards are very important.

For more from Darron, check out: How to choose a managed services provider you can trust