When it comes to selecting a hosted desktop service provider, it is critical for businesses to consider a whole host of criteria to ensure they are getting the best possible deal. The main things to look out for are detailed below:
Firstly, price packages are a good starting point. Businesses should check to see how any prospective providers pricing works and whether it is flexible. Flexible price plans would mean that should a business need to scale the hosted desktop service up or down they can do so without having to worry about extra hidden fees.
It is also worth checking how the provider actually charges its customers. Do they have a charge per user? It would be more cost effective to select a provider that charges per user as this would mean businesses only pay for what they use.
When looking at the cost per user charge, it is important to examine how the provider allocates storage. Some will offer low personal storage to be used by each individual and charge extra if it is exceeded, whilst other providers will give a high allowance of both personal and shared storage and notify businesses when they are close to their limit. Ensuring that a provider with completely transparent pricing plans is selected is key to getting the most out of the service.
Another key area to look at is where the provider stores data. Most companies offering hosted desktops will claim that they keep business data extremely safe, but will use off-shore data centres to keep their costs low. When data crosses UK borders, it is no longer legally required to adhere to strict UK data protection laws, so be sure to select a company that keeps data in a country that is legally obliged to protect customer data to a high standard. It is also important to know what the provider’s back up policy is, and procedures in case of a disaster and data needs to be accessed.
Hosted desktop companies come in all shapes and sizes, and cater to organisations of all sizes, selecting a provider that can support all of those businesses is vital. Firstly, it would be wise to consider how many employees the provider has, and how many companies they support. If the provider got a request for help from all of those businesses, could they cope given the number of people they employ? If they get several requests at once how do they prioritise tickets? Do emergencies jump up the queue?
Next businesses should compare how providers actually offer support. Some will give a certain number of hours as standard, but charge per hour for support exceeding that, or charge for a block of hours after their standard allowance. Lastly, is support offered during normal working hours? What happens if support is required out of those hours? Selecting a provider with a 24-hour support hotline would be beneficial.
9.4 Service Level Agreements
When signing contracts for any service, all businesses should familiarise themselves with the service level agreements of companies they wish to solicit the services of. This would give a good sense of what to expect from the prospective provider. First, examine what guarantees and objectives the company is offering, is there a clear definition of what the service is? There should be a clarity of their processes, and they should be able to evidence that they monitor how their service is being delivered.
Secondly, being completely aware of the support to be expected, and the escalation process if issues aren’t remedied appropriately is paramount. This will give any organisation a good idea of how seriously the provider will handle their business and its unique requirements.
Lastly, ask what the provider’s data protection policies are, do they explicitly guarantee that data will be safe and private? What are the remediation procedures, such as penalties, if data is accidentally breached? Data protection policies should include access, locations, confidentiality, and usage rights.
9.5 Awards and Accreditations
MCSA – Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate
MCSA’s are globally recognised professional accreditations given by Microsoft. Because they are earned by passing rigorous exams, MCSA’s guarantee that the provider employs technically trained staff.
MCSA: Cloud Platform – specifically demonstrates expertise in cloud related technology and the awardee’s commitment to reducing IT costs and adding value for businesses.
MCP – Microsoft Certified Partner
Another accreditation to look out for from Microsoft is the MCP, it shows that a firm offers Microsoft products and services, and is technically trained to support them.
A Microsoft Gold Certified Partner– is awarded to the most advanced and trustworthy technical support providers.
Much like the above Microsoft certifications, Citrix Education offers companies extensive courses and training in using its own products and solutions. When choosing a hosted desktop provider be sure to check for accreditations like CCA-V (Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualisation), and CCP-V (Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualisation).
CCNA – Cisco Certified Network Associate
A CCNA certificate is a specific information technology award created and given by Cisco. It ensures that the potential service provider is completely and thoroughly trained to sell and support its systems.
ISO – International Organisation for Standardisation
The International Organisation for Standardisation is a global body that offers accreditations in all sectors and industries that show a business’ commitment to a standard level of service and product quality. By choosing a hosted desktop provider with ISO certificates businesses are guaranteed an industry accepted service baseline.