Almost all IT execs have heard the term “managed services.” It refers to the proactive management of an IT asset by a third-party. Managed services providers supply proactive delivery of their service; this is what sets them apart from reactive IT services.
Managed services providers (MSPs) developed out of the IT maintenance industry. As we all remember, networks used to be much more simple, with a server and a couple of desktops. When problems arose they would be fixed, IT support functioned as break-fix only. When systems became more complex and developed into integral components of daily business operations, the need arose for periodic on-site checks to review logs and information before a major problem arose. There was still a problem though, as the support staff was only able to see what was happening at that specific time, like taking a snapshot of the system instead of seeing the whole picture. Issues continued for companies, back-up system tests were only preformed when a support tech was there, and often those techs spent the majority of their time fixing end-user issues instead of having focus on the entire system.
Managed Services Help SMB, Enterprise and Multi-Site Businesses
Around 2005 small and mid-size companies began to have affordable access to the same system features that large companies had been using for the previous decade. Now even small start-ups use complex systems comprised of desktops, laptops, network switches and routers and often a server. Cloud-based storage has added another layer. Managed services are a benefit to smaller businesses, which are susceptible to downtime caused by hardware failures or software problems. Providers look at everything on the network that can result in a user symptom, and any risk will trigger an alert before it happens. Every alert the provider gets will be addressed to reduce the risk of serious issues. The goal is to make problems manageable and be proactive rather than reacting only when the problem is already an emergency.
How to Pick the Right Managed Services Provider for Your Business
There are several factors to consider before choosing a managed services provider. A MSP will support you with remote Help Desk, firewall and virus protections, WAN and LAN monitoring, infrastructure management, and on-site support. A good managed services provider will ask specific questions about your company’s needs. What cloud-based resources does your company use? What are you data requirements? What do you need to run your workload? The provider you select should be able to identify problems before they cause the system to shut down. They should have 24-hour alert monitoring for desktop workstations, servers, and networks in every location. Your MSP should offer both remote and on-site support. Technicians should be available to perform scheduled maintenance regularly. You should ask providers how they will work for you and pay attention to the questions they ask you.
Why Experience Matters
Working with and experienced MSP can mean the difference between real results and continued problems. An experienced managed services provider will make recommendations for improvements beyond just hardware. They will provide insights about training, software, security and workflow. The MSP will be knowledgeable about your specific industry and the needs of your company. The right MSP will have resources in your area and have a nationwide network. They will have a solid track record and professional experts who know what it takes to keep your systems running smoothly.
Benefits of Working with a MSP
When you choose an experienced MSP with good resources, you will see some specific benefits including:
- Nationwide dispatch for installation: The provider will be able to dispatch technicians anywhere, anytime. If a problem is detected, they will be capable of handling it immediately, even if it affects multiple locations in different areas.
- Repairs: The provider will be able to make repairs to hardware or network equipment. This saves your company time and money. Technicians must be trained and knowledgeable in order to make repairs so you know you are working with a superior provider.
- Rollouts: The provider will help roll-out new software or fixes for known issues.
- Deployments: The provider will send technicians to deploy new hardware or networking equipment, making sure the job is done right.
- Maintenance: Regular on-site maintenance will be preformed to help prevent any problems and keep systems running at peak operational efficiency.
To deliver true managed services, providers must make a substantial investment in technology and expert staff. Some companies offer only remote dial-in services, claiming that they are managed services. Real managed services providers are not only available when you need help; they also work on preventative maintenance. When your company has a proactively maintained computer network you will notice the difference with minimal downtime and reduced service costs. The provider will regularly perform network monitoring, patch management, and desktop optimization.
The Ideal MSP Portfolio of Services
You should look for these six specific features when examining and managed service provider’s portfolio:
- Equipment Sales
- Remote Triage
- Dispatching Time
- Installation Capabilities
- MACD – Move, Add Change or Deletion of services
The MSP should be able to provide you with the new equipment you need, install the equipment and service and support it remotely and on-site. You need a provider that can handle all aspects of you network and systems from delivery to decommission. Partnering with a good MSP will save your company money. In fact, most managed services cost less than the traditional break-fix services. This is especially true when you factor in the cost of downtime. MSPs use remote monitoring, maintenance and prevention to increase efficiency. This is a cost-effective way to access enterprise-level support for your systems. No matter the size or location of your company you will benefit from the knowledge and experience a managed services provider can offer. You can use this information to make an informed decision when choosing your managed services provider.