The number of businesses consuming managed services is growing rapidly, as business realise the benefits of using a third party to manage their IT infrastructure, whether hardware, software or a combination of the two.
Why? Because recruiting a managed service provider means the business no longer has to have responsibility for running the day-to-day jobs and can instead focus on driving the business forward and more pressing issues.
Managed service models are based upon a subscription, where businesses pay a monthly cost for a third party provider to carry out a service. This service plan can cover a range of different management operations, from a basic level of support, up to a complete supply, install and maintain service.
For businesses that don’t have the resource to run their own maintenance, or simply want to focus on changing the way the business works rather than wasting time fixing problems or maintaining systems, it’s the perfect solution.
Managed services are the opposite of the break/fix model, which entails paying a third-party firm to repair, upgrade or install systems or software on an ad hoc basis.
Service level agreements (SLAs) are important when outsourcing services, as this states the expectations for the minimum level of service the customer should receive
Managed IT services can cover a range of business functions, from network, application, system, payroll, server, and backup/recovery solutions to workstation and printer management.
One of the most common examples of managed IT services at present is cloud services, where SMBs lacking expertise and resources can use a managed service provider (MSP) who may provide in-house cloud services or act as brokers with cloud services providers.
Another growing area in managed IT services is security. With the ever-growing risk of a malicious attack, some companies find it more efficient to outsource their security to a specialist managed security service provider (MSSP) who will handle the day-to-day security workload as well as patch management, backup, and responses to any breaches.
The specific advantages and disadvantages of managed IT services depend in part on the type of service, but there are some more general factors which may influence a business’ choice to outsource a function to an MSP.
Advantages of managed IT services include:
- Expertise: For smaller businesses in particular, being able to outsource knowledge and expertise can be an enormous help, as well as having experienced technical support available
- Predictable costs: Rather than incurring large expenses for an IT issue, businesses can instead account for potential problems within a predictable monthly fee
- Maintenance and upgrades: Organisations no longer have to worry whether software is up-to-date, as all this is taken care of by the provider. They can also get access to newer technologies which they may not have been able to afford by themselves
- Time savings: Outsourcing management of services like security and cloud reduces the amount of time that in-house departments have to spend on it.