Managed IT Service refers to an arrangement in which a business
contracts with another party to take responsibility for the efficient
operation of its IT resources. That party is generally known as a
Managed Service Provider (MSP). An MSP takes responsibility for
workstations, servers, network components, firewalls and, where
applicable, cloud services the customer may have integrated into its
overall operation. In essence, the customer outsources the burden of
maintaining its IT operation to the MSP. In return, the customer pays
the MSP on a subscription basis, often monthly, thereby establishing a
predictable, fixed cost for those services.
Type of Services Provided
Depending upon the nature of your IT infrastructure and your objectives in having those resources managed, one or a combination of the following can be implemented. Service Level Agreements can also be associated with each type of service.
Managed workstation. Workstations on a corporate network may require software upgrades to bring them current with software manufacturers’ latest updates. Likewise, older workstations may need hardware upgrades or even replacement with more current technology. Using remote monitoring and reporting software, workstations keep MSPs informed on the performance of each device. With that knowledge, MSPs can take action when necessary to put a malfunctioning workstation back in service, or, even more likely, to take action before it fails.
Managed Network. A network typically uses routers, switches, servers, server operating systems and firewall software. It may also include access points, printers, scanners and IoT devices. For those devices that use an operating system, monitoring and reporting agent software can advise on certain aspects of network operation. For other devices and the network overall, remote monitoring through SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) can reveal traffic congestion, excessive collisions, and dropped packets, disk drives running short on storage and a host of other problems. MSPs use such information to prevent problems before they affect operations.
Managed Security. Maintaining security requires round-the-clock monitoring, management of intrusion detection systems, setting up firewalls and responding to emergencies. Beyond that continuous effort, MSPs perform deep vulnerability assessment and penetration testing, and typically offer a number of protection frameworks.
Managed Backup. Because magnetic media degrade over time, keeping a regular backup is critical. MSPs provide advanced data backup with recovery technology, usually focused on Windows, Windows Server, macOS, and Linux.
Assessing the Need for Managed Services
Small businesses, government agencies, not-for-profit corporations and Fortune-class businesses all use managed services. Changes in the business environment underlie the move toward MSPs. For instance, each of the points below and countless others forms of change can lead to a more resilient, efficient and effective IT operation when an MSP is engaged.
- Security concerns. Data breeches were unknown prior to 2005. Today, that’s changed. Breeches are much more common and costly to organizations. Hiring an MSP to place a sharp focus on security offers an immediate path to minimizing risk.
- To reduce IT department expenses. MSPs do not usually replace existing IT employees. MSPs free them to take on more productive activities that advance the business. However, contracting with an MSP can mitigate the expense of hiring additional IT employees. When coupled with a predictable monthly, quarterly or annual subscription, the benefit in hiring an MSP can become even more compelling.
- Significant change to the IT infrastructure. When a business plans to make significant changes — such as upgrading its network, its servers, installing new enterprise software, or opening a new data center — working with an MSP that offers fixed cost subscription pricing for the new environment may reduce expenses and provide a more efficient, secure operation.
MSPs offer a host of benefits, especially as a response to changes in the business environment. It’s often noted that the broad experience MSP professionals possess exceeds that of a company’s existing IT staff — which enables the MSP to enhance the existing level of service. Further, with predictable pricing plans and Service Level Agreements tailored to the type of service, MSPs bring stability and peace of mind for those responsible for IT operations, and to those who manage the business.
To learn more about managed IT services, contact us here.