What are Managed Services?
Managed services is the practice of outsourcing on a proactive basis management responsibilities and functions and a strategic method for improving operations and cutting expenses. The managed service provider assumes ongoing responsibility for monitoring, managing and/or problem resolution for selected IT systems and functions on your behalf.
Managed services providers can offer services such as security, alerts, patch management, data backup and recovery for different client devices: desktops, notebooks, tablets, mobile devices, servers, storage systems, networks and applications. Offloading routine technology management to an experienced managed services provider lets you concentrate on running your business, with fewer interruptions due to IT issues.
Managed services providers usually price their services on a subscription basis. Depending on the services they provide, pricing is usually based on the number of devices, with different packages priced at different levels. Some provide customer support onsite when required.
Basic services often start with a monitoring service, which notifies you of problems, which you resolve on your own. At the upper end of the spectrum, service providers offer fully managed services that cover everything from alerts through problem resolution.
Typically they perform an initial assessment of your current IT environment and management requirements to help you decide what services and service levels you need.
Why Should You Care?
Just like larger companies, small businesses need technology to operate efficiently and to compete effectively. But as reliance on IT grows, the resources to support an increasingly complex IT environment may not. In many small businesses, IT resources are scarce, and can be quickly overwhelmed with the day-to-day responsibilities of keeping the IT infrastructure that the business depends on up and running.
If you fall behind in keeping up with things such as backups, patches and security, the odds are that you’ll face an IT outage or another problem down the road that will negatively impact your business. For instance, if your e-mail server, customer relationship management system, financial application or network goes down unexpectedly, you face substantial productivity and revenue losses as a result.
MSPs act as an extension of your IT department, taking care of routine IT infrastructure monitoring and management around the clock—freeing up your IT staff to focus on higher-value projects. By proactively monitoring and maintaining your systems, an MSP can help you avoid many technology problems in the first place. Should an issue occur, an experienced MSP can troubleshoot and resolve it more efficiently.
Unlike traditional outsourcing situations, where you surrender complete control of your IT assets, you decide what you want the service provider to take care of, and what you want to handle. You retain full visibility into the process and management of your systems. In addition, the MSP subscription model gives you more expense predictability than a consultant-type time and billing model.