MSPAlliance Unveils Unified Cloud Provider, MSP Certification Standard

The MSPAlliance, an association that comprises managed service players, unveiled the Unified Certification Standard, a new standard that covers service providers that offer both cloud and managed services. According to the alliance, a new standard was necessary for providers of cloud and managed services to have a certification that is "specific to their industry and profession."

"This Unified Certification Standard (UCS) is just what it sounds like; it's a certification standard that can be equally applied to MSPs and providers of cloud services," wrote Charles Weaver, MSPAlliance president and co-founder, in a blog post unveiling the Unified Certification Standard. "Because our industry has been going through so many rapid changes in the last few years, MSPAlliance members felt this was an important change that needed to be incorporated into any future revisions of our standard."

The certification standard also offers a public-facing report that MSPs and cloud providers can leverage to give assurance to existing and prospective clients that they follow best practices in the cloud. The report, issued by an independent third party and certified public accounting firm will show that MSPs and cloud providers are audited according to a list of criteria that includes financial health, hiring procedures, physical security, data access and privacy, service level agreements and other necessary service provider functions.

"The UCS report is public facing, meaning it can be used for both auditors as well as anyone who wants to know more about the organization and their capabilities," Weaver wrote in his blog. "The UCS report will not, however, give away sensitive information that would compromise the service provider's integrity, security, or intellectual property. This makes the UCS report ideal for both showing capabilities and integrity of a company or solution, while also being very useful for responding to RFPs, submitting bids, or in general marketing and educating the public as to what the provider does."

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The UCS will include two levels of certification for both cloud and managed providers. Level One will provide a report that has a fixed certification date; Level Two will provide a report that the MSPAlliance said is forward looking in nature.

"While both levels will give the provider a public facing report, the Level One certification will be for a fixed period of time. This means it will have an 'as of' date. The auditors will issue the report for a specified date," Weaver wrote. "The Level Two certification will be forward facing. This means the provider will have a report that provides a measure of assurance or opinion from the auditor saying that the controls are in place and have been tested over a period of time."

According to the MSPAlliance, companies that obtain the UCS certification standard will add value by giving providers recognition that supports their businesses' growth. Weaver wrote that the UCS "significantly enhances [MSPs'] function and marketability, particularly to those end-users who are so eager to do business with cloud and managed service providers but need the assurance that their provider is stable and credible."