How Important Are Certifications for MNS Providers?

Enterprises struggling to balance expense optimization with greater network agility and performance are increasingly choosing managed network services (MNS). The benefits of the managed service provider (MSP) model are fairly well established and it is fair to say that it is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

The MNS market is highly fragmented – not surprising considering the diverse nature of the customer base. From small businesses to the largest of enterprises, there is an MNS provider that can cater to each and every segment of the market.

As an Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) leader, selecting your MNS provider is critical, since the consequences of a sub-par decision can be far ranging, counterproductive and strategically impactful.

Let’s look at the one key consideration to weight into your decision: Certifications.

What Are MNS Provider Certifications?

Managed service provider IT certifications are verifiable, standardized and widely accepted credentials awarded to MSPs by objective third-party organizations. There are both company-wide MSP certifications – those that are earned by the MSP as a whole – and individual MSP certifications – those that are earned by the MSP’s individual employees.

A particularly significant certification is what is referred to as a manufacturer certification. This type of certification confirms that a provider has proven that they are adept at supporting technologies from the awarding manufacturer.

MNS provider IT certifications are often a key differentiator when selecting a vendor. For example, enterprises looking for Cisco managed services are going to limit their search to certified Cisco managed service providers.

So, what are the advantages of certifications?

Competence and Maturity

IT certifications are a concrete validation of an MNS provider’s ability – that they possess the technical knowledge and expertise in relevant areas specific to the certification. Obtaining certifications are difficult, expensive, and time and resource-intensive for an MNS provider. If they are certified, they will possess a level of maturity and competence that would otherwise not be quantifiable in a trustworthy manner.

Further, certifications expire. To maintain currency, MNS providers need to invest in re-qualifying. This pursuit of ongoing certification establishes a mindset of continuous improvement. The continuity of improvement ensures that the MNS provider is keeping up with the latest trends in the advancements associated with the technological certification.

Why Credibility Matters

Consider this scenario: you enter into a relationship with a Cisco certified MNS provider to help you manage your Unified Communications (UC) infrastructure. By their very nature, UC systems are complex, and the assets are typically deployed both in-house and in externally hosted cloud environments.

When an issue does occur, the fact that your MNS provider is Cisco certified will inevitably ensure that they have the expertise and knowledge to rapidly diagnose the problem.

But what if the issue is at the hosted end? From a management perspective, visibility into the hosted environment ends at the edge of service delivery by the supplier. When the issue occurs outside of the environment that is under your (and the provider’s) direct administration, it becomes necessary to engage with the provider and let them know that the issue is on their end.

In this example, as a Cisco certified MNS provider, it is far more likely that the hosted service provider will be receptive to the findings at first notice. This is in contrast to a non-certified provider who wouldn’t have the credibility that comes with the Cisco certification.

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