Choosing a managed cloud provider: Why software vendor relationships matter

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cloud managed services vendor relationshipsIn pursuit of recurring revenue, an increasing number of IT providers, including value-added resellers, systems integrators and equipment vendors, are hanging out shingles proclaiming themselves as managed services providers (MSPs).

Many are specifically targeting SAP and Oracle workloads, which are challenging to deploy in the cloud. Some providers are obtaining certifications or joining vendors’ partner programs. But how can you tell whether the MSP really has what it takes to manage your critical SAP or Oracle workloads?

For CIOs, the relationship between their cloud managed services provider and the application vendor, such as SAP or Oracle, is paramount. In fact, in a recent Frost & Sullivan survey, 72 percent of managed services users cited the relationship between the MSP and the application vendor as a key selection criterion. It’s no wonder. When MSPs have worked closely with a particular vendor for a long time, they build valuable knowledge, insights and expertise to optimize critical applications.

Let’s look at a real-life example:

IBM was one of the earliest partners of SAP, a relationship that began decades ago. IBM architects have deep knowledge not only of SAP software, but also how the software operates on IBM infrastructure, either on premises or in the cloud.

As a result, IBM architects know how the software will respond in almost any configuration. They can anticipate problems — such as challenging hardware deployments — and can reach into their toolkit of experience and expertise to overcome them. They can also offer solutions and suggestions for how to best make the software run on your IBM hardware, as well as what non-SAP applications interact with SAP and must therefore migrate to the cloud along with your SAP workloads. As one of the first SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud partners, IBM can help you make the leap to HANA, too. As a result, organizations benefit from an optimal deployment, in the cloud or on premises.

Additionally, managed services providers with a long history of working with a software vendor are in the best position to use their own solutions to enhance the value of an SAP or Oracle deployment. With IBM, that can mean adding AI or machine learning technologies that can add functionality to enterprise resource planning (ERP) workloads.

By choosing a provider with a deep relationship with your software vendor, you might get some additional perks, such as priority service or the ability to employ customized deployment options, even when your legacy environment extends back many years.

Here are some things to look for when it comes to assessing the MSP relationship with the vendors they represent:

  1. Partners with long tenure with the same vendor. Partners that develop a strong history with a few key vendors understand older, legacy versions or deployments of SAP or Oracle, as well as legacy hardware, and can best determine how to update your deployment to drive innovation for your organization.
  2. Partners that are investing in architectures that support your chosen software solution. Those doing so are best poised to help you succeed with those platforms.
  3. Partners that participate on select vendors’ partner councils, or have other input into the vendor’s strategy and product roadmaps. Doing so will help you be on the cutting edge of new product tests or launches.
  4. Specifics of the MSP’s partnership relationship with the vendor. Most vendors have multiple levels and multiple partner types. A vendor that claims to be an SAP partner may have only achieved certification as a hosting provider, not as a full managed services provider.
  5. A managed service provider that acts as a true partner to your business, offering both strategic planning as well as help in the trenches when you require changes to your configuration or should something go amiss.

Managed service providers that develop strong and deep relationships with the vendors they support are best equipped to give you a personalized, high-quality solution and excellent customer experience. By choosing an MSP that has taken the time to develop deep vendor relationships, you can ensure you will receive the highest quality of service as you deploy a managed cloud solution.

To find out how to create a successful business case for managing SAP workloads in a cloud managed services environment, download the analyst paper from Frost & Sullivan.

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