Why managed services? IT services play an integral role in the modern business field. Today, it’s almost unthinkable to venture into contemporary services and not have some form of IT support and infrastructure. The goal is to achieve a well managed IT infrastructure accompanied by expert staff who specialize in their respective fields – but this is easier said than done. The IT world is still a high-demand, growing market, and often there isn’t enough of it to go around. Or, companies lack the capital to onboard dedicated IT of their own.
Enter managed services or the utilization of a managed service provider. In today’s competitive field, they’ve become an essential part of many businesses, keeping them in the game when they lack specific resources themselves.
What is Managed Services
Managed services is a third party – typically referred to as an MSP (managed service provider) – which provides critical business operations and infrastructure to companies of varying sizes. More specifically, these are IT infrastructure services. Depending on the needs of an organization, this can range from communication solutions to an entirely outsourced IT support team. Everything from access security and cybersecurity, network layouts, support, and backup recovery are discoverable under the umbrella of an MSP.
Why Managed Services?
Sounds well and good, but how does that help you, a budding business struggling to maintain critical IT support? Simply put, there are numerous, flexible offerings which can work well within the realm of the company’s infrastructure plan. Often MSP’s look to create affordable, proactive roadmaps which can fill in the gaps of support, whatever that is. The solution options are too numerous to completely cover here, but we’ll highlight some of the significant advantages discovered through a managed service provider.
At the service level, an MSP draws from a wealth of IT expertise which operates in every field of information technology. That means a team who works within the realm of cybersecurity, for instance, can apply a unique platform of solutions to problems you might have on the risk level.
These professionals handle multiple clients, all with their own needs and dynamics. Therefore, when you work with an MSP team, you’re gaining access to sharp minds and veteran talent, something that’s not always easy to come by on a local level.
For regulation and performance reasons, a managed provider will traditionally have the best hardware/software resources available. Need access to the latest Office suite? A cloud MSP can offer virtualized services to give you an edge. Concerned about staying on top of the latest security updates or online vendor regulations? Your provider – by nature of what they do – stays on top of this.
Ideally, an MSP will work within the layers of your budget. Some offer a flexible, service-based plan which charges by the user, versus a flat fee. Since IT can become a costly beast without the proper guidance, you want to keep things within your resources at all times. Some require lengthy service contracts that lock you in, (but we don’t require any contract commitments here at Executech).
And speaking of capital, by using an MSP, financial resources are saved. Without the need to train on new employees, purchase expensive new hardware and software, and offload critical tasks to a third-party, you can cut down on significant IT costs in all departments.
Downtime Reduction and Recovery
Downtime is a reality no business wants to face, so mitigating it as much as possible is essential. Naturally, MSPs offer backup solutions to protect critical information and can even provide avenues for service continuations in the event of a disaster (like security breach or storm). Considering just how damaging downtime is, it’s a life saver for smaller businesses.
Cloud-Based Managed Services
Third-party resources aren’t just limited to one service type. Certain vendors also offer cloud-based solutions, which can provide a new range of flexibility and virtualization options. Much like an MSP, a cloud-based MSP provides a variety of critical infrastructure points, only through a cloud service.
Like our previous points, you gain many of the same benefits associated with a traditional MSP (expert staff, cost reduction, service reliability). But, cloud networks approach many service needs through “virtual” offerings. This might be an ideal alternative, depending on your organization’s needs.
Managed Service Companies
As the idea of a dedicated provider goes from concept to action, you might wonder which company best suits you. The answer to that question that comes down to research, understanding what your business needs, and how best a potential MSP fits the criteria. For example, you might want to utilize a business which has robust backup cloud options for data integrity.
It’s critical, however, to gauge the efficacy of an MSP company. Yes, many provide a full range of services will all the great benefits we’ve gone over so far. However, each one has its philosophy, resources, and approach to managing problems. For instance, if your company plans to rely on an MSP for most (if not all) of its IT infrastructure, you need to make sure the company has a great track record and reputation.
Also, as you start to explore options, keep a list of critical questions to apply during the search, such as:
What is the cost model for the MSP?
What backup options do they provide? In an event where they experience problems, what is their BDR philosophy?
What resources do they use?
How fast is their response time to mission-critical situations?
Managed Services vs. Outsourcing
After learning about an MSP, you might also wonder what the difference between this and outsourcing is. Aren’t you technically outsourcing mission-critical services to a third party?
While the framework is the same – meaning you hire on an external provider to fill service gaps – MSPs are a specialized family of companies who work primarily in IT. Outsourcing – in general – does not grant the same advantages and resources as an MSP.
For instance, you can outsource IT security to a team of IT security freelancers, all of whom draw from a mixed range of backgrounds. Doing so would lead to varying levels of quality, as does response time, cost, and skillsets. Since an MSP has its criterion for hiring, while focusing primarily on IT infrastructure, you can trust the resources they use over a cheap outsource philosophy.
Staff Augmentation vs. Managed Services Model
As we finalize the benefits of IT MSP models, you might also consider staff augmentation as opposed to utilizing a third party. There are indeed advantages to this, such as:
The ability to bring on trained IT from flexible backgrounds to fit specific project criteria.
The reduction in cost as no long-term commitment is necessary.
Flexible offerings to meet aggressive and demanding deadlines.
However, staff augmentation tends to fill the gaps for individual projects. Additionally, inefficiencies and problems brought on by the said project will also affect them, while they also may need additional training. They’re a robust, time-sensitive fix in periods of crisis, but lack the longevity of a services model.
The MSP framework not only address project needs, but it also addresses all company needs. As you’ve no doubt learned, an MSP fills infrastructure requirements for almost any IT component of a business, versus smaller projects and tasks.
Competing as an SMB in a more technologically driven world is challenging. Without suitable IT infrastructure, numerous problems can arise ranging from minor errors to potentially devastating ones. But, hiring on expert staff and hosting your own IT team is not always a practical option. In some cases, it’s not possible.
But an MSP can provide mission-critical services that range from backup recovery to technological roadmaps, allowing you to maintain a competitive edge.
Are you curious about how managed IT services could help your business?