Managed IT services allow businesses to delegate their IT operations to an expert third-party organization that specializes in handling responsibilities. These third-party organizations, known as Managed Service Providers (MSPs), are responsible for the entirety or portions of a business' IT systems, as agreed upon in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The client typically procures IT equipment and depending on the SLA. Managed Service Providers may provide round-the-clock monitoring, issue resolution and reporting, and more.
According to the SLA, managed service providers charge a flat fee for delivery of their services over a set period of time. The SLA defines precisely what services will be furnished and the degree they will be offered, as well as metrics for measuring the success of these services.
Cloud computing has allowed managed IT services to expand beyond the regions and borders that would constrain the average break/fix IT through the adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) technologies, as well as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service(PaaS) also. These capabilities allow managed IT services to scale at a rate dramatically larger and faster than in-house IT operation or break/fix providers.
Managed services has become a popular buzzword in business environments. However, with the myriad new features and benefits, it offers over traditional break-fix repair, many are still unclear about what managed services encompasses. In its most simple definition, managed services gives a 3rd party service provider complete responsibility for any aspect of your company, and is often related to IT support.
In this technology-focused age, businesses can live or die by the quality of their IT infrastructure. Entire companies are run electronically nowadays, and few wouldn't suffer immense losses if their IT network encountered a major issue. With managed services in IT, business owners no longer have to worry about data loss or computer problems; these are handled by experts and relieve owners to worry about what really matters to them - running the business.
Read on to receive answers to all your questions about managed IT support, and learn why this new method is quickly taking over from the break-fix model of old.
At the outset of enterprise computing, information technology services and management was on a break/fix basis, meaning that computer systems were only managed by an expert when they did not work, necessitating a technician to fix it. This technician may also have been the person who built and/or installed the computer system, due to the proliferation of small IT shops that specialized in this small-scale client services at the time.
However, as time progressed computer manufacturing grew to large scale, leaving the small IT dealer to focus less on manufacturing and more on break/fix. This system was time-consuming, labour intensive, costly and reactive. It did not allow the technician room to grow their business or take on new clients without massive investments in labour and infrastructure.
As computing devices increased yearly, the divide between break/fix technicians and the number of computers they could reasonably service under the break/fix model grew wider and wider. Managed IT services emerged in the early years of the millennium to meet this need, shifting far from the break/fix model.
Managed IT services heralded a proactive approach to IT, attempting to conduct maintenance, upgrades, system monitoring and issue resolution on a routine basis, with the goal of preventing problems before they started. Automation, increased Internet capabilities and cloud computing allowed for monitoring and issue resolution to be provided remotely, enabling more efficient processes and a consolidation of resources.
Efficiency, consolidated resources and client satisfaction, coupled with fixed rates, the ability to offer greater service offerings and take on a larger clientele led to managed IT services becoming the industry-standard approach to managing computer systems large and small for SMBs.
Understanding the how and why behind the development of managed services allows a clearer picture of its usefulness. Computer systems make immense strides year after year, but the tools to service the changing systems have had trouble catching up.
Companies who helped small service networks in the past have been hindered by the lack of tools to help with problems. Networks used to be developed as simple systems, usually built and serviced by a self-taught technician. Maintenance was break-fix only, meaning when something went wrong, the company called, and hopefully, the technician would come and fix it.
As time went on, the most advanced support people developed procedures to periodically come on-site to do a review of the infrastructure, looking for hints of issues before they snowballed into huge problems. The trouble was, however, that the service technicians could only see what was happening on the day they were there. If something happened in the future, they would never know about it unless informed by the customer and then it was back to the break-fix method.
Along with this troubleshooting inefficiency, backup problems and other errors continued to occur. The only professional test of backup systems happened on the check-up visit, which frequently resulted in days or more of missed backups.
This system was also prone to human error, with the technician trying to be accommodating and frequently having to spend his time correcting end-user symptoms and not being able to address the real issues. This inefficiency created a constant uphill battle for technicians, who were consistently trying to put out fires as more rapidly occurred.
Through outsourcing managed IT services, SMBs are able to reap the benefits of receiving IT support at a significantly reduced cost in comparison to creating a comparable team in-house. Additionally, MSPs can also offer a wealth of experience from actively managing multiple client accounts that in-house teams would not collectively have.
Additionally, by using an MSP organization are able to forecast their monthly, quarterly, and yearly expenditure on IT, and are freed from having to focus on this area of operational readiness. This allows SMBs to focus on growing their business without worrying about day-to-day IT issues or requirements.
Another benefit to managed IT services is a greater opportunity for security expertise and successfully enacted security policies. MSPs work with standards such as PCI compliance day in, day out, and should be able to steer your organization within the parameters and regulations it needs to adhere to. For some organizations, especially in finance, healthcare, educations, and other industries, this type of regulatory compliance is mandatory for the IT portion of their business, and requires the expertise and experience that a managed service provider can offer. MSPs can mitigate risk in this way while assuring that the experts in charge of your IT operations are always up to date on the latest information, technologies and processes that will keep your infrastructure working efficiently and successfully into the future.
Managed services also create a change in the overall philosophy of the way a business deals with its technology. Break-fix repair relies on waiting until servers, desktops, or other critical devices fail, then rushing to fix them as the company bleeds profit. A business operating under managed services, however, focuses on prevention rather than reaction, monitoring and resolving issues before they disrupt employees, management, and clients.
Here are some challenges that you need to be aware of when looking to move to a managed services arrangement.
If you answer "no" to any of the following questions, then you are utilizing a break-fix methodology to maintain your network and may benefit from a managed service provider without costing you any more.
For an IT Service, the saying "time is money" always applies. For optimal company performance, constant availability of mission-critical IT services is the top priority for many organizations. While assessing the true cost of downtime is hard, it is always recommended to take proactive steps to avoid it completely. At worst, the reputational risk could be a factor when the outage comes to the attention of those outside the company potentially eroding public trust. Clients experience better performance with minimal downtime when using a managed service. Many times, mission-critical applications involve multiple technologies and require them to be fully operational and integrated to achieve the IT service expected. All component applications must be available together for the IT service to function seamlessly for internal end-users. An MSP can ensure maximum uptime and minimal service interruptions.
Organizations that attempt to implement and support all IT services in-house usually have a much higher research and development cost as well as longer timelines to deploy -costs may also be passed on to the organizations wishing to consume these services. The MSP is highly efficient in delivering IT services in a way that keeps costs low and the time to deploy short while providing a high-quality service to the business.
IT departments will always have funding, technical, security, and operational challenges. As you look for strategies to minimize spend, I have seen many organizations effectively utilize AMS to achieve the full benefit of seamless service integration with less worry over resource constraints. MSP's will always have their staff trained on upcoming and new releases as well as new technologies with the ability to lock-in costs for a multi-year period. By creating more predictability, your business will reduce operational risk and challenges and minimize service disruption.
Managed Service Providers bring not only practical delivery of a predictable service model and cost to quickly and effectively deliver new IT service to an enterprise, but also enhance the stability and peace of mind for IT and business leaders alike.
The task of delivering new business services to the enterprise while keeping costs controlled is a difficult task in the modern business environment. A managed service is a great strategy to help your IT organization be highly resilient, and cost predictable, fiscal year to fiscal year. MSPs complement and do not replace existing staff but rather free those valuable resources to lead and deliver on the strategic IT programs necessary to advance business goals. In larger organizations, an MSP will help your resources to focus on more strategic projects. You can rest assured that your company is minimizing the risks associated with maintaining client data and sensitive competitive information and more with today's managed service offerings.
As you embark on investing in a new application, consider taking advantage of various managed service offerings to stay on top of IT business needs and minimize unsystematic risks.