Understanding Managed Services
Managed services is a buzzword thrown around by us alot, and every day more and more businesses and ISP’s are jumping on the bandwagon. But what does managed services actually mean and how can you tell if an ISP is not just using the word as a marketing tool, but is in fact only offering “flat rate” services packaged as “managed services”?
As a definition, Managed Services allows a business to offload IT operations to a service provider, known as a Managed Services Provider. The managed service provider assumes an ongoing responsibility for 24-hour monitoring, managing and/or problem resolution for the network within a business. When we refer to a managed service it often means that the provider will provide the router too.
It all started in the beginning of the 90’s with network solutions, when the only professional test of the backup system was on the visit, which frequently resulted in days or more of missed backups or connectivity problems. The system was prone to other human errors when the on-site technician, trying to be accommodating, would take care of the “end user” symptoms and would not have time to address the “real issues”. This created a constant battle for the technician as they tried to convince customers that they were only causing themselves more dangerous problems down the road by not being proactive.
At the same time, the hardware and software vendors were adding new and better ways for the systems to signal problems as early as possible. Simple Network Management Protocol had been developing since the early 90’s and was being applied to PC’s. The first systems that could watch these tools and turn all the data into usable information were complex to manage, were geared only to large networks, and were prohibitively expensive for small business.
In 2005, systems started to mature that allowed smaller companies to take advantage of the same features and benefits as the large companies. This technology started the Managed Services movement.
The Managed Services software that is in place today allows providers to work towards two major goals:
- Everything on your network that will result in a user symptom or risk will send an alert before or when it happens, and the Managed Service Provider will know about it.
- Every alert they get is something important and needs to be addressed.
The more closely a Managed Service provider can get to these two goals, the more perfectly they can achieve a truly managed service and the more they can get away from “everything being an emergency” situation. In our case this often prevents downtime which costs an average of 90k per year per business!
Managed services are also a philosophical change in the way that a business deals with its technology. Instead of following the old-school tradition of break-fix (literally meaning wait until the server, desktops or other critical networking devices fail, then scramble to fix them), a business operating with a managed service focuses on the prevention of these issues before they disrupt employees, management and/or clients.
If you fall behind in keeping up with things such as downtime, the odds greatly increase that you’ll face an IT outage or another problem down the road that will negatively impact your business. For instance, if your Email server, customer relationship management system, financial application or network goes down, you will likely face substantial productivity and revenue losses as a result.
Put in simple terms – one of the biggest benefits of Managed Services is discovering and fixing problems before they can negatively affect your business.
A well maintained, pro actively serviced computer network will always run better than the alternative. With proactive network monitoring, patch management, and desktop optimization performed on a regular basis, you will notice a tremendous difference in operations… and you will reap the benefits of preventing fires, rather than fighting them.
Reduced costs: Businesses are also able to control and reduce their overall operating costs with the flat-fee billing model. Cost-effective access to enterprise-level support is a reality
24-hour monitoring: Because the Managed Services provider also manages all of your vendor relationships, issues with internet slowness/outages, printers, phones, cell phones, websites are dealt with directly with the vendor by the Managed Service provider. As a result of this “always-eyes-on” network monitoring 24 hours per day, businesses experience an additional level of comfort and security.
We can still quote you on wires only but would always recommend exploring the options of a managed service as usually the only difference in cost is the hardware ( approx £350 – £400) and personally I would much rather pay that than loose thousands in revenue should my internet collapse.