Nearly all businesses can benefit from a good relationship with a managed services provider. In the not-too-distant past, managed services meant remote monitoring and management, or RMM, which was the key workload of managed services. The managed services provider would administer an IT function on a company’s servers and network, making sure hardware was working properly and keeping an eye out for trouble spots and early indicators of problems.
Managed services have not changed at its heart, but as the IT-outsourcing business grew more and more competitive, providers began to offer additional services to try to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Some would dial up their focus on a certain kind of client, such as medical or legal offices or financial services. Another twist: cloud computing began to alter the server landscape in a meaningful way, and added a twist to the needs of many companies who chose to manage their data this way.
[Axis Computer Networks consults on managed services for a wide variety of businesses, and also works with cloud and hybrid solutions, routinely managing cloud network solutions for clients setting up and migrating systems. Learn more here.]
Managed services providers protect the client from network outages and data loss, chiefly through hardware monitoring and regular backups. As contractors, they set up systems that they use to do this an efficient manner, but sometimes a contract that’s bid at a lower price may result in a lack of service when a problem does arise. One way to spot this is that after-hours calls are routed through a call center, which adds a layer of delay in service at a critical time. (Tip: The contractor will tell the client they are a 24-7 operation, and, if they really are, they won’t need to be asked about that. They will readily volunteer this information as early as it makes sense. And sometimes before that.) The good providers will give you a guaranteed response time.
Axis Computer Networks also takes into consideration that on-site service visits will occasionally be required, and has the infrastructure to manage it. Not all managed services providers plan for this, and often, if they do, it’s considered a premium add-on to the service.
Some managed service providers focus on data security and it’s pretty easy to understand why. Network security will always be a hot topic for all IT managers. A managed services provider should act as a partner to your in-house team, and their programs should dovetail with yours and provide an effective backstop for them. Checks of critical systems and disk health, monitoring firewalls, helping to train staff and network users, and other factors all contribute to network security, and a frank discussion with prospective contractors will give you an idea of what to expect. If a managed services provider listens to your needs and responds to your concerns with details about your network and ideas for solutions, that may show someone who won’t shoehorn your network into a one-size-fits-all program. At Axis Computer Networks, we build a program that will protect critical data, while allowing your team to gain access whenever they need it, keeping hackers at bay, and backing up regularly to ensure any kind of fault causes a minimal disruption of your business.
Managed services may seem like an additional expense since it’s a new line on a budget spreadsheet, but when a managed services provider does its job properly, it frees up in-house IT personnel and resources to attend to other projects. Your staff is able to work creatively and use the parts of their skill set that made them desirable hires in the first place. And when people work at challenging, fulfilling projects, they tend to have better job satisfaction and are less likely to leave, reducing recruitment costs.