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How to Find the Right SaaS Provider

There are a lot of great reasons for going to the cloud -- both financial and technical. If you have passed that step, you are now on to your due diligence. The devil is in the details, so put on your investigative hat.

What You Should Ask Your Provider
Your questions should fall into three categories. First, if you like the services they offer, find out how they are technically delivered and supported. Ask questions like:

  • “Do you own and operate this technology?”
  • “What third parties does your business use to provide any of its services?”
  • “Can you describe the potential failure points in delivering the service and how will you combat them?”
  • “What type of equipment are you using to provide this offering? Please include manufacturer names.”

Don’t forget that even though you may be looking at SaaS, there is an underlying network that should include backup and a disaster recovery plan. Have the provider whiteboard or describe all of the components needed to offer the services you are buying. Ask who specifically owns and manages those elements and whether they are a reseller of the service. If so, you’ll want to make sure you can communicate directly with the underlying provider.

Second, once you are signed up, what is the process for getting installed? Ask:

  • “What is the timeline for turning up services?”
  • “Which departments and teams will I be working with?”
  • “Are they dedicated throughout the project?”

If the service you signed up for is complex, ask about the systems and tools they use to turn up your services. How will they capture all of the technical interview questions and ultimately provision them?

Who’s Got Your Back?
Lastly, you need to get comfortable with their support team. Try these questions:

  • “Is the support 24-7, 365?”
  • “Is it your employees that are supporting me, or do you outsource any support?”
  • “Describe the support organization: If support is tiered, what skills and capabilities does each level have? When can I escalate unresolved issues?”
  • “How will you handle Moves, Adds, Changes, Deletes? What are the costs associated with them?”
  • “What are the standard intervals for Moves, Adds, and Changes?”

Obviously, a lot more can be asked, depending on the critical nature of the service. Run through some typical scenarios that your company operates with and see how the provider handles them. I have found that the best way to work with providers of critical services is to establish a great working relationship with mutual respect, and they will always go the extra mile for you.

But the takeaway is this: Don’t be afraid to ask.

How We Do It
In our company, the core of our business is hosted VoIP, so we have built a highly scalable carrier grade platform that is designed with many layers of redundancy. We are able to logically segment our voice and data network to ensure quality of service, security and control over our services.

Copyright (c) 2011 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.


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