The Beginner’s Guide To Managed IT Services
Picture this: You're at your computer, trying to access some Big Important Information your boss has sent you ahead of a Big Important Meeting. The file, however, is in a newer version of a program you use and everything is unformatted. Then, in all the excitement of being asked to do something it can't, your computer crashes. You try to reach IT but there're only four in the team and two are on break right now.
When you do finally reach someone, they take one look at your computer, make the face mechanics do when they're about to tell you your car is a write-off and tell you that your computer is — well — a write-off.
It isn't. However, to recognize the problem, the team would have needed specialist training in a niche area. Instead, they order you a new computer, the same as the one you have now. Super!
As the clock ticks closer towards your Big Important Meeting and you sit there trying to pull together a presentation on your smartphone, you think to yourself: surely there's a better way?
There is. It's called Managed IT Services.
This article is Part One of our two-part special on IT services. Read on to find out more and if you’re interested in learning about on-demand IT services, check out Part Two.
What Is A Managed IT Service?
A Managed IT Service is an IT service managed by a third party, i.e., someone outside your organization. They take care of everything to do with that service — installation, implementation, team training, maintenance, upgrades — which means you can delegate these responsibilities to Experts (with a capital E).
What about non-managed IT services? Well, your in-house IT team takes care of everything else.
There are hundreds of different IT services that range from security to infrastructure and everything in between and we'll look at them later. In short, if you have an IT task that needs doing and you don't have the resource, skill or inclination to do it in-house, a Managed IT Service provider will do it for you.
What’s The History Of Managed IT Services?
Cast your mind back to the 1990s. We asked Jeeves for information. Game Boys topped every kid's Christmas list. The Spice Girls stormed the charts and we argued over which iMac color was the coolest.
In other exciting news, computer-savvy people realized they could sell IT support to organizations. IT support was new and computer-savvy people were like Chandler Bing in Friends: no one knew what they did but they seemed to be good at it. In the beginning, there was break/ fix. You had some tech, it broke, so you sent it for repair. Broke. Fixed.
As device adoption grew, one-man IT support set-ups couldn't keep up with demand. The break/fix model wasn't working. There was too much breaking and not enough fixing. We needed to stop the breaking.
Thankfully, computer-savvy people realized that to do this, we had to care for our computers. Maintain them. Love them, even. So, they launched the hopelessly romantic-sounding Managed IT Services.
Initially, Managed IT Service Providers (MSPs) performed system monitoring, maintenance, upgrades and issue resolution and it did the job However, it wasn’t until automation, cloud computing and increased internet capabilities arrived, that MSP’s stepped into the spotlight, like J-Lo at the 2020 Super Bowl.
Managed IT Services soon became recognized as the most efficient way to run corporate computer systems.
What Are The Different Types Of Managed IT Services?
Managed IT solutions support the four pillars holding up your company: infrastructure, BAU (Business As Usual), communications and analytics. Not to sound too dramatic but if any of these pillar’s collapse — Your organization may not come crashing down but there’ll be an awful lot of head holding in the office that day (some weeping, too, probably).
IT infrastructure includes hardware, software, network components, storage solutions and operating systems. If you have infrastructure problems, well ... imagine someone removed your skeleton and expected you to remain standing. You get the drift. Managed IT infrastructure services include:
Managed Networks And Infrastructure
solutions handle network tasks, such as storage and establishing connections like WAPs (Wireless Application Protocol) and LAN (Local Area Network). These three-letter acronyms are responsible for letting you wirelessly connect to the Internet.
Managed Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) —
MSPs (Managed IT Service Providers) such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), provide storage, computing, IT and network support as well as offer virtualization services for software, operating systems and apps too.
is a fancy way of saying "preventing things from going south." It's a 24/7/365 monitoring solution that identifies issues before they blow up in your face.
Business-As-Usual activity isn’t that exciting. Nevertheless, as they say, it's always the quiet ones you have to watch. The most common Managed IT service is Managed IT Support — kind of obvious, no? — which covers IT tasks from tickets to resolution. Other managed IT Services include:
Managed System Administration
frees up your IT team to focus on strategic projects. 'Nuff said.
You probably already use a Managed Software as a Service (SaaS) platform. Slack? Salesforce? Adobe? If you pay a subscription to access software, it's SaaS. Even Netflix is SaaS. Although SaaS and chill isn’t quite as catchy.
Communications And Connectivity
Listen, we may all complain about Zoom fatigue but think how dire it would be if we didn't have managed communication services.
Managed Communications include messaging software, voice over internet protocol (or VOIP — basically, phone service over the internet) and video conferencing.
If you don’t have the budget to invest in a wireless network, a Managed Wireless Provider has got your back. It's far more cost-effective.
Business intelligence is at the heart of organizational growth and sustainability. Managed Analytics Services offer everything from tracking hard facts and figures like sales and revenue figures to plotting trends and creating strategic roadmaps.
What Are The Benefits Of Managed IT Services?
Okay, so you want to invest in Managed IT Services but don't have time to pull yourself together, let alone a business case for your CFO. Here's a time-saving list of benefits you can include in a budget proposal, send in an email, or even just pin to your forehead as you walk past your CFO's desk.
24/7 support from a team of experts
Access to industry and sector insight
Access to up-to-date market-leading technology
Decrease in downtime
Easy to scale
Empowers you to be agile
Ensures data compliance (if you were to score each argument, this is worth, like, 100 points)
Improves employee productivity
Improves user experience
Preventive – proactive rather than reactive
Saves money and allows you to budget more effectively
What To Look For In A Managed IT Services Provider?
If you decide to invest in an MSP, you are NOT short of options — for inspiration, check out the offerings from Accenture, Capgemini, HCL and IBM. Finding a provider, however, is a project. Unfortunately, no MSP can do that job for you.
Anyway, until someone does create a managed MSP-finder service™, this checklist should help you benchmark your shortlist.
Can you access your service any time, any-place, any-who, anyhow?
Service Level Agreements (SLA):
Is the pricing structure tiered? Scalable? Flexible? Does the SLA set clear expectations?
Is your MSP available 24/7/365 or do they close on weekends or holidays? What do their customers say about them?
How secure is your data and how is it backed up? What security measures does your MSP have in place? Are they compliant?
Can your MSP demonstrate subject-matter expertise? Are they well known in the IT industry circle?
Remember: Consider what you may need in the future as well as right now.
What’s The Future Of Managed IT Services?
Managed IT Services of the future can only go one way — outwards. Services will expand beyond IT and into all business areas, which means services must be secure and legally compliant.
This is a tech article, so of course, we're going to mention the Internet of Things. As IoT devices dominate the workspace, keeping them secure, maintained and up to date is simply best practice. In fact, as the promise of more stringent regulations looms ever closer, maintaining devices and keeping them secure is likely to become a legal stipulation. Fingers crossed!
Well, hopefully, we have convinced you that Managed IT Services should top your IT list - unless you want to continue pulling together Big Important Presentations on your smartphone.
What if you don't need all-singing, all-dancing Managed IT Services? We've got you! Check out: The Beginner's Guide to IT Services Part 2: On-Demand IT Services, where we dive into a more affordable and scalable IT solution.
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