Is Your Managed Service Provider (MSP) a Help or a Hindrance?

Eight questions to ask your SQL Server support provider to see if they are the right fit

Eight questions to ask your SQL Server support provider to see if they are the right fit

There are numerous benefits of using a Manged Service Provider (MSP) to monitor and maintain your SQL Server environment including access to an expert team, the ability to focus on projects without having to worry about operational tasks and predictable monthly costs without additional PAYG, super or leave.

With experts taking care of your databases, internal IT staff can concentrate on what matters, whether it be migrating to Azure or valuable projects to support other areas of the business.

That’s the theory, but for that to happen, an MSP needs to provide support that is valued. It’s important for organisations to regularly assess whether their current MSP is meeting their needs and expectations.

There are questions you can ask about your SQL Server MSP to work out whether they are delivering, or if they fall short.

1. Is your MSP available 24×7 every day of the year?

Applications and websites have an annoying tendency to fall over at the least convenient times. When your eCommerce site goes down at 9pm during a click frenzy sale, does your MSP identify the issue before you do? If not, do they pick up your call? Can the person who initially responds help, or do they have to wake someone up and wait for them to commute into the office?

The WARDY IT Solutions Virtual DBA team work on shift, not on call, 24×7. Call us at 3am on Christmas morning and you’ll get through to a certified DBA who can help immediately.

2. Who answers the phone when you call?

It doesn’t have to be an emergency for you to need advice from your MSP on your SQL Server. What happens when you call outside of office hours? Does an answering service pick up or are you put through to a helpdesk? How long does it take before you’re put through to someone who can actually help? Do response times differ depending on what time of day it is?

At WARDY IT Solutions, we don’t have a helpdesk. When you call us, a Microsoft-certified DBA will answer and be in the office and ready to help right away. That said, we aim to call you with any database related issues rather than waiting for a call from you. Our average customer satisfaction at 99.76% and we want to keep it that way.

3. Are the MSP’s team members certified and consistently helpful?

When it comes to your MSP, it’s important to feel confident that the team member managing your SQL Server, knows what they’re doing. You may have a particular team member you trust, but what happens when they’re on leave and someone else is working on your job? Does that person have the same skillset? Are they suitably qualified?

All WARDY IT Solutions’ team members are Microsoft-certified Database Administrators. When on-boarding a client, we form a tribe of 5-6 DBAs who understand your environment. This means no matter what time of day or night, there will always be a DBA in our Australia-based Database Operations Center who you can rely on.

4. Can your SQL Server Support MSP explain their pricing model in less than a minute?

Take a look at your MSP bill, are you charged more for their assistance at night, on the weekend or public holiday than you are during normal office hours? Are you charged more for strategic tasks as opposed to operational BAU activities? Does the bill differ depending on which team member helped you? Complex pricing plans and surprise fees are far from ideal, and if you’re locked into a contract, that could be problematic.

WARDY IT Solutions’ Virtual DBA pricing plans are simple – designed around the number of hours support required, nothing more. Our price never depends on the number of instances you’re running, which member of our team helps you, or the time of day. We don’t believe in long term, lock-in contracts. Our plans are month to month.

5. Does your MSP give you freedom to scale?

So, you’ve got a big project coming up and need more SQL Server hands on deck. Does your MSP allow you to scale up the amount of support you need for a short period of time? Likewise, is there an option to scale down during those quieter times of year? The same goes for the size of your environment, are there extra costs for adding instances or growing your workload?

WARDY IT Solutions gives you the flexibility to scale your SQL Server capabilities to suit your needs. Like Azure, our plans allow you to flex up and down as and when you need and, as we don’t charge per instance, our price remains the same, regardless of the size of your environment.

6. How good are their cloud skills?

Today, 70% of organisations in Australia have a cloud footprint. Do you have a cloud presence or cloud roadmap? If so, does your MSP have the skills and tools needed to manage and optimise your environment for the cloud?

WARDY IT Solutions is a Gold Cloud Platform Partner. It doesn’t matter to us where your data resides, we support public and private cloud as well as on-premise. Our team members are Azure-certified and when it comes to Azure, we don’t stop at the database. We fully support all Azure Data Services such as Azure SQL Data Warehouse and Azure Data Factory. Our monitoring technology, SQL Beacon™, is designed to monitor more than your databases, capturing statistics on the full Azure Data Platform.

7. When was the last time you spent quality time with your MSP Account Manager?

Do you have regular meetings with your MSP? Do they check in with you to ensure that you’re still on the most suitable plan for your needs? Do you know where their time has been spent? Does your MSP Account Manager understand your business aspirations and what is of value to you? Who can you contact at your MSP if you’re not happy with something?

At WARDY IT Solutions, we run monthly meetings with clients to ensure we’re all on the same page and that we understand your priorities. We also provide regular reviews and analyse your usage to ensure you’re getting the most value from your Virtual DBA plan. Our clients also have the mobile number of our Managing Director if they ever need to reach out.  

8. Does your MSP care about your applications and infrastructure?

You might have a great database, but if it doesn’t work well with your applications and infrastructure, you’re not going to get much use out of it.

We understand that database performance is about more than just the database. Our founder (an ex-DBA himself), believes that a good DBA considers the bigger picture. We consider your applications and infrastructure to provide you with the results you – and we – expect.

I’m not happy with my MSP. Where to next?

If your current MSP isn’t providing you with the great service you want for your investment when it comes to your data estate, it’s time to look for an alternative.

With WARDY IT Solutions’ Virtual DBA Service, access a team of world class, pro-active SQL Server DBAs on shore in Australia – for a support option that’s flexible and scalable. Our tools help you maintain visibility of your servers and enable the detection of early warning signs for impending issues. So we call you before those issues occur.

If you’d like to know more about what the WARDY IT Solutions’ Virtual DBA Service can offer your business, start your 30-day free trial or get in touch today.