Provider Accreditations: Do They Matter?

Although accreditations get a bad rap and are no guarantee of service quality, they can offer insight into what a provider deems important.

Andrew Froehlich, President & Lead Network Architect, West Gate Networks

June 9, 2014

2 Min Read

If you spend any time shopping for enterprise-class ISPs, co-location companies, cloud hosting vendors, and other service providers, you know that most of them are quick to rattle off their various accreditations.

Although accreditations get a bad rap and are no guarantee of service quality, they can offer insight into what a provider deems important and the types of customers it's targeting, helping customers gauge whether the provider is a good fit.

Accreditations let potential customers quickly differentiate the focus and ambitions of the service provider. For example, those that hold and proudly promote a Tier-level certification from The Uptime Institute are appealing to customers that seek highly available services. Providers that show off their CSA STAR (Security Trust and Assurance Registry) accreditation are focused on protecting customer data from security breaches. Other accreditations, such as those from the Open Compute Project, focus on systems interoperability.

But I must reemphasize: Simply having an accreditation is in no way a guarantee that the service provider will actually be able to follow through with what the accreditation stands for. Architecture discrepancies, misconfigurations, and other variables can throw off actual results.

Many a provider complicates matters by touting a wide range of accreditations. So how do you know where its true focus lies? Keep your needs close to the vest, while letting the service provider's sales team pitch their services to you. Which accreditations do the sales reps bring up early and often without any guidance from you? Usually, these are the accreditations the provider is focused on.

If you think industry accreditations and certifications are useless, think again. While I agree that an accreditation offers zero assurance that the provider is any better than another without this seal of approval, it can give an indication of whether the provider is a good fit for your needs.

Find out how a government program is putting cloud computing on the fast track to better security. Also in the Cloud Security issue of InformationWeek Government: Defense CIO Teri Takai on why FedRAMP helps everyone.

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About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich

President & Lead Network Architect, West Gate Networks

Andrew has well over a decade of enterprise networking under his belt through his consulting practice, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and datacenter build-outs and prior experience at organizations such as State Farm Insurance, United Airlines and the University of Chicago Medical Center. Having lived and worked in South East Asia for nearly three years, Andrew possesses a unique international business and technology perspective. When he's not consulting, Andrew enjoys writing technical blogs and is the author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex.

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