What are Managed Services?
Managed services let you offload specific IT operations to an external organization known as a Managed Services Provider. The managed service provider (MSP) assumes ongoing responsibility for monitoring, managing and/or problem resolution for selected IT systems and functions on your behalf. These services are typically customized based upon your needs, budget and vulnerabilities.
Managed services providers can offer services such as alerts, security, patch management, data backup and recovery for various client devices: servers, desktops, laptops, storage systems, routers, switches and even applications. Some even manage your connectivity to the world by working on your behalf with ISP’s when there is an internet outage or slow bandwidth. This saves time and money from having valuable internal resources working on the issue, particularly if that isn’t their primary field of expertise.
In short, offloading routine infrastructure management to an experienced MSP keeps your IT infrastructure running smoothly, alerts you if there are warnings signs that could lead to hardware failures and frees up your internal people to focus on running your business.
Managed service providers usually price their services on a subscription basis. Depending on the services they provide, pricing is usually based on the number of devices, with different packages priced at different levels. Some provide valuable customer support onsite when required.
Basic services often start with a monitoring service, which notifies you of problems, which you resolve on your own. At the upper end of the spectrum, service providers offer fully managed services that cover everything from alerts through problem resolution.
Typically, they perform an initial assessment of your current IT environment and management requirements to help you decide what services and service levels you need.
Why is this important?
Just like larger companies, small and medium businesses need technology to operate efficiently and to compete effectively. Securing your data and keeping it protected has gotten increasingly more difficult as hackers and threats become more evolved. But as reliance on IT grows, the resources to support an increasingly complex IT environment may not. In many small businesses, IT resources are scarce, and can be quickly overwhelmed with the day-to-day responsibilities of keeping the IT infrastructure that the business depends on up and running. We see, in many cases, small businesses rely upon a person with other job responsibilities to also wear the “IT hat”. As the business grows, the IT portion of their job begins to dominate and the IT demands outgrow the available time and skillset of this individual. Without realizing it, many small businesses are particularly vulnerable at this stage, because they don’t have a formal IT plan and strategy in place to support their business objectives and keep their data safe.
If you fall behind in keeping up with things such as backups, patches and security, the odds are that you’ll face an IT outage or another problem down the road that will negatively impact your business. Ask yourself what the impact would be to your business if your team is unable to access email, the files on their PC, your customer relationship management system, financial application or your network goes down unexpectedly? Now consider if that outage extended over the period of several days or weeks? Would your business be able to recover fully?
Managed Service Providers act as your IT department or, an extension of your IT department, taking care of routine IT infrastructure monitoring and management around the clock—freeing up your staff to focus on higher-value projects. By proactively monitoring and maintaining your systems, your MSP can help you avoid many technology problems before they happen. Should an issue occur, an experienced MSP can troubleshoot and resolve it more efficiently.
Unlike traditional outsourcing situations, where you surrender complete control of your IT assets, you decide what you want the service provider to take care of, and what you want to handle. You retain full visibility into the process and management of your systems. A good MSP will act as an extension of your team, often providing invaluable insight, planning and guidance on longer term IT considerations.
Learn more by requesting a free consultation from Eagle Network Solutions.