Partnering with an infrastructure provider can be one of the best ways to grow your own business.
Because the right partner can open doors for your organization.
New markets, new services, new segments of clients...the possibilities for expanding your business are vast if you have the right partner at your side.
But as with any relationship, there are “good” partners and “bad” partners, and it is imperative that you have a framework for partner evaluation if you are to ensure success.
Below, we will lay the groundwork for that evaluation so that your choice in infrastructure partners will help, not harm, your business.
Here are five questions to ask when evaluating infrastructure partners, not just for your clients, but also for your own business.
1. Are All of the Services that Your Clients Need Offered by the Infrastructure Provider?
There is no point in considering a provider that doesn’t offer the services that you and your clients require.
For example, many providers offer shared hosting and email but don’t offer dedicated servers.
Others offer Managed WordPress but don’t offer VPNs.
Finding a provider that checks all the boxes of the services you need will keep you from having too many relationships with too many disparate vendors.
Most providers will have a well-documented website that gives you all the details you need to evaluate their suite of services and products.
2. Does the Infrastructure Provider Guarantee Uptime?
Perhaps the most important metric by which to judge a hosting provider, at least when it comes to technology, is their uptime guarantee.
In the infrastructure world, this is often referenced as “five nines,” “four nines,” or “three nines.”
That is a reference to the percentage of time that the service is guaranteed to be working correctly. Five nines is equivalent to 99.999% of the time. Four nines correspond to 99.99% uptime, and so on.
Infrastructure is bound to have a problem every now and again.
After all, servers, switches, power supplies, and cabling do occasionally break in the course of regular use.
What is important is how responsive and organized your hosting partner is in addressing these issues."
For example, Liquid Web guarantees network uptime to be 100%.
This guarantee assures you that all major routing devices within the network are reachable from the global internet 100% of the time.
By using redundant systems and quality components, Liquid Web can offer an industry-leading uptime guarantee. Contrast that with an infrastructure provider offering only “three nines” as their guarantee; that means almost nine hours of allowable downtime per year!
3. Does the Infrastructure Provider Have a Positive Reputation?
Most infrastructure and hosting providers have beautiful websites that promise wonderful services devoid of any problems. They will boast of peak performance, high-availability, and the best customer service. Of course, the reality is often very different.
It is essential to check the reputation of each provider before signing up or choosing to partner. Customers who have already used the provider over a long enough period can attest to its reliability. Online reviews and forums are excellent sources of information about the provider's service offerings and support levels. You can also find their comments on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Professional review websites like HostAdvice also maintain a selection of the best infrastructure providers. For example, take a look at their evaluation of Liquid Web.
4. Is the Infrastructure Provider Active Online?
A provider must be able to communicate quickly with its customers if an issue arises. It is a reasonably reliable indicator of its professionalism and it is quite easy to verify.
Start by checking that the provider has at least a Twitter account. Is this account active? Does the provider use it only to relay its new offers, and does it interact with its clients? Does the provider maintain a blog or news section on its site? Is there a network status page that allows you to know the current incidents and maintenance schedule in real-time?
Aside from helping you learn more about potential partners, this digital footprint can be a good indicator that you won’t have trouble getting in touch with them should an issue arise.
5. Can You Communicate With the Infrastructure Provider?
Perhaps the most critical component of a quality partnership is excellent communication.
- Can you get in touch with support easily?
- Is your Account Manager constructive and helpful, or hard to track down?
- Do the business hours align with your business hours or, even better, is your potential partner available 24/7/365?
Liquid Web’s industry-leading SLA, for example, guarantees that the phone will be answered and live chat responded to in less than one minute. Contrast that with some providers that don’t even provide phone or chat support.
Set For Success With Your Infrastructure Partner
Partnering with an infrastructure provider is a critical decision for your business's long-term success and the businesses of your clients and customers. The right partnership can and should help your business grow.
The right hosting or infrastructure partner should offer all the features and services that you and your clients need and the support you require. Although it should rarely happen, you may have some issues at some point, and you want a provider that will assist you quickly and efficiently.
Take the time to make the right choice. Otherwise, you may lose a lot of time trying to change to a new partner or provider later on. If you are interested in learning how Liquid Web can serve as an infrastructure partner for your company and clients, contact us now. The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting have been partnering with small and mid-sized businesses for almost twenty years to provide industry-leading infrastructure solutions.
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Adam Williams was the former CRO for Liquid Web and Nexcess brand. Adam has also worked for large multi-national companies like WorldCom and Rackspace and start-ups like Plesk and Webmail.us. He started his career as a high school history teacher and wrestling coach. Adam and his family reside in Virginia.
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