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The comprehensive guide to managed services

The demand for managed services has grown exponentially in recent years – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with so many people forced to work away from an office environment. Globally, the managed services market was valued at $185.98 billion in 2019 and estimated to grow to $356.24 by 2025.

However, many business owners prefer to keep their IT system and infrastructure maintenance within their own team; it gives them a greater feeling of security over their data and applications, as well as better control over how their systems are run.

But outsourcing your IT support to a managed IT service could be of greater benefit to you and your company than initially thought. If you’ve been thinking about partnering with an MSP but are still on the fence, take this opportunity to learn more about what you could gain through outsourcing your IT needs.

What are managed service providers?

A managed service provider (MSP) is a company that provides IT support to businesses by taking care of the entire process of managing the IT needs for them. Managing IT needs includes network security, wireless access, phone service, and other aspects that would otherwise be handled by the business.

MSPs are becoming increasingly popular for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) as they can provide a complete package of IT services without any upfront capital expenditure on the part of the business. They also help to reduce downtime and potential security breaches. An MSP can help grow a company’s bottom line while freeing up resources from in-house IT staff to focus on things like customer service or product development.

Today, companies that want to survive and thrive in the cut-throat business world need to stay on top of their technology management and maintenance – which is a difficult, time-consuming process.

Most MSPs will take care of:

  • Server maintenance
  • Infrastructure management
  • Systems administration
  • Data back-up and disaster recovery
  • Cloud storage
  • Authentication
  • Network monitoring and security

Some managed IT services will specialise in certain advanced fields, which does provide for a greater lever of experience and skills utilised in that area.

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Types of managed service providers

Several standard IT solutions exist in the space to help enable businesses, offering compliance, security, and efficiency. Not all MSPs offer the same services, and many utilise as wide a range as they are able to offer their clients all the solutions they need.

IT support

IT support plans will give your business access to basic monitoring and maintenance, 24/7 support with a service desk, on-site and remote support, and technical account management. It can also offer basic infrastructure maintenance and management, user device set-up, and user account management. IT support covers the basic IT needs that just about every business requires in the modern digital age.

IT security

As security is the foremost priority of any organisation, the majority of MSPs will offer IT security options and packages along with their basic IT support. IT security serves to protect your data across a wide range:

  • Basic network security
  • Web-based applications and browser security
  • Smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop computer security
  • Data on public and/or private cloud environment security
  • Multi-factor authentication measures to provide protection against malware or phishing attacks

Cloud services

MSPs will provide advice, strategies, and maintenance of your cloud platform, as well as end-to-end management of your migration to the cloud. As part of a managed service, cloud support usually comes with additional support, like disaster recovery and governance. Cloud computing is an in-depth and timely management need, so outsourcing to an MSP frees up your time and space while experts handle the applications and data stored across multiple in-house and cloud-based platforms.

End-user computing

The sudden, rapid switch to remote working has increased the importance of managing end-user devices – from laptops to smartphones. Business owners and managers now expect their staff to be connected anytime, anywhere. With this comes a need for connectivity, infrastructure, security, and applications for all co-workers to stay smoothly connected – which is where the MSP comes in, to utilise a specialised IT procurement service, as well as managing the various levels of end-user technology.

Professional services

Infrastructure services, IT staffing, and consulting usually fall under professional services rendered by MSPs. Consultants have depths of experience and skills to offer invaluable advice on anything from IT projects to budgets. Managing your IT infrastructure is a key essential to all IT support; MSP engineering teams can provide their specialist services to implement new infrastructure quickly and confidently. Additionally, some MSPs can offer backfill on staff on leave to provide standby services with a range of certifications and skills.

Benefits of managed services

  • Cost-effective: outsourcing your IT management and maintenance to an MSP will cost less than keeping a full-time, in-house IT team.
  • Long-term partnership: your MSP is with you for the long game, so they will seek to understand your business, risks, and responsibilities. They want you to succeed so that they can succeed, and as such, will work hard to help you grow.
  • Expert-level support: all MSPs contain specialists in whatever field you need – from disaster recovery to cloud migration and management. Further, they’ll come to the table with their own suggestions for your systems, based on their knowledge of your business and experience with the tech.
  • Proactive support: once you’ve entered an agreement with your chosen MSP, it’s in their best interest to resolve issues before they become a problem. You’ll find IT issues arising less as they take control of your system maintenance.
  • Quick response time: most MSPs offer 24/7/365 support. When problems do arise, you can contact your MSP knowing that they’ll be quick on the uptake and have your systems up and running as soon as they can – maximising uptime and minimising downtime.
  • State-of-the-art tech: it’s in an MSP’s best interest to keep up to date in the world of technology. They’ll be aware of the latest hardware and software, and can advise you on what’s worth investing in.
  • More time for your team: the time your staff have previously spent on fixing IT issues or just general IT admin maintenance is now freed up to focus on what matters – strategies for the future, innovative projects to drive your business to success.
  • Increased efficiency and productivity: MSPs will create a scalable, well-supported, and reliable IT environment.

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What to look for when choosing an MSP

The best MSPs are flexible, reliable, and willing to know your business, inside and out, to give you the technical support you need. Things like years of experience, services offered, and how customers are charged, are all important, but when researching into MSPs, you must take into account other factors that will frame your strategic relationship.

The ideal MSP:

  • Offers a flexible service model
  • Provide round-the-clock support
  • Utilise both remote and on-site monitoring and maintenance where needed
  • Have a single point-on-contact for your business
  • Offers advanced services as well as basic support

Break/fix versus MSP

Break/fix services are a one-time hire with no further obligations attached – good for those businesses that have an in-house IT team but need a specific, one-off service, or simply can’t budget for a long-term MSP partner.

However, while affordable and a seemingly easy transaction, break/fix services don’t offer the same guarantees that you would get from an MSP.

Pros of break/fix services:

  • You only pay for services rendered
  • You retain a level of control over your software and hardware that an MSP would take over

Cons of break/fix services:

  • An unexpected IT issue makes for an unexpected, out-of-pocket fee
  • Your IT services will suffer downtime while you seek support and then wait for the services to respond
  • You have no guarantee the issue won’t happen again, as the break/fix technician generally won’t implement preventative measures to maintain the solution

Choosing between break/fix services simply when you need them or outsourcing your IT to an MSP will generally come down to the size and scale of your business. Smaller businesses find they need less overall IT management and maintenance.

However, businesses need to ensure they are able to operate at all times as more and more companies and potential customers turn to digital technology. Keeping your IT systems up and running smoothly leads to happy customers who know they can rely on you and are well worth the outsourcing cost.

How do you know what’s right for you?

Every business is unique; your everyday problems and long-term goals set you apart from your competitors as much as your IT hardware or staffing requirements.

The IT experts at INTELLIWORX are ready to offer you a wide range of IT support, customised exactly to what your business needs to shine. Talk to them today for a free, no-obligation quote and get started on a path to a more efficient, smoother digital workspace.

Shane Maher

We passionately work on the IT Infrastructure of mid-tier businesses and support MSPs into cloud services. I have over 17 years of commercial experience that includes supporting and managing IT systems, developing infrastructure solutions, both onsite & in the cloud.

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