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Managed IT Services: Benefits, Offerings & Providers

Managed IT Services: Complete Guide to Outsourcing Technology Operations Outsourcing IT operations to managed service providers (MSPs) is a growing trend among organizations seeking to […]

Managed IT Services: Complete Guide to Outsourcing Technology Operations

Outsourcing IT operations to managed service providers (MSPs) is a growing trend among organizations seeking to optimize technology performance, security, and costs. This comprehensive guide explores the benefits of leveraging MSPs for your business and provides practical guidance on finding the right provider.

Managed IT Services Benefits, Offerings & Providers

Managed IT Services Benefits, Offerings & Providers

What Are Managed IT Services and How Do They Work?

Managed IT services involve contracting external providers to manage, monitor, and support some or all of a company’s IT infrastructure and systems. This allows businesses to offload day-to-day technology responsibilities to experts and focus on core operations.

  • MSPs deliver services proactively and remotely on a subscription basis. They use robust monitoring and management tools to identify and resolve IT issues before they disrupt productivity or data security. The goal is stable, optimized technology operations that empower growth.
  • Common IT functions managed by MSPs include help desk support, network monitoring, backup and disaster recovery, security management, and more. They provide resources and expertise that would be costly for organizations to build and maintain in-house.
  • MSP technicians and engineers function as remote IT staff. They handle maintenance, troubleshooting, installations, upgrades, and configurations across an organization's environment. Services are performed under set SLAs guaranteeing prompt response times.
  • Management is centralized through MSP platforms. Dashboards provide visibility into device health, performance metrics, security events, upcoming patches, and IT ticketing. Machine learning algorithms identify anomalies and automatically address many incidents.
  • MSPs stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and best practices. They proactively optimize infrastructure, bolster defenses, and ensure compliance with evolving regulations. Businesses benefit from IT excellence without large capital investments.

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Why Choose Managed IT Services? Benefits for Businesses

There are several compelling reasons companies choose to outsource IT to managed service providers:

Access to Enterprise-Level Expertise and Solutions

  • MSPs leverage industry-leading technologies and employ highly certified IT professionals including CISSP, CISM, and CCNA credential holders. This expertise is now available to organizations of any size.
  • Deep bench strength and specialized skills needed to master complex technologies are difficult for a single company to develop in-house. MSPs offer access to this elite talent.

Enhanced Cybersecurity and Compliance

  • IT landscape threats are growing in sophistication. MSPs offer advanced security solutions like SIEM, firewall management, endpoint protection, penetration testing, and 24/7 SOC monitoring to harden defenses.
  • Keeping pace with regulations like HIPAA, PCI DSS, and state privacy laws is challenging without dedicated staff. MSPs have resources to ensure compliance is maintained.

Focus Internal Resources on Core Business

  • Technology maintenance can drain focus from revenue-driving activities. MSPs handle IT so companies can allocate resources towards growth and innovation.
  • Executives also free up strategic time once spent managing IT personnel and infrastructure. Instead of putting out fires, leadership can focus on progress.

Scalability and Flexibility

  • MSP services scale up or down to match evolving infrastructure and support needs. Businesses only pay for the services they need.
  • Temporary projects or periods of growth can be supported without long-term hiring. Expertise gaps are filled without politics of reducing internal roles.

Reduce Capital Expenses and Control Costs

  • MSPs allow organizations to convert heavy IT capital expenditures into predictable, tax-deductible operational expenses.
  • Built-in redundancies and economies of scale enable MSPs to offer robust solutions at competitive monthly rates. There are also no large upfront investments.

Proactive Maintenance and Risk Reduction

  • By proactively monitoring and optimizing IT environments, MSPs minimize downtime and data loss risks. Businesses become more resilient.
  • Potential issues get addressed before they disrupt operations. Entire teams focus on keeping systems humming along smoothly.

Improved Disaster Recovery

  • Robust backup solutions and tested business continuity plans ensure critical systems can rapidly recover after outages.
  • MSPs bring experience recovering from ransomware, natural disasters, and other worst-case scenarios. They ensure continuity for even catastrophic events.

What Services Do MSPs Offer?

While specific capabilities differ between providers, most MSPs offer some combination of the following core services:

Help Desk and End User Support

  • Provides 24/7 multichannel technical support and troubleshooting for employees.
  • Services include password resets, device configurations, software installations, remote access facilitation, and general how-to inquiries.
  • Takes burden off internal teams and ensures prompt, expert resolutions around the clock.

Network and Infrastructure Monitoring

  • Proactively tracks performance metrics, events, and security around the clock.
  • Advanced remote monitoring tools watch for anomalies and automatically address many common incidents.
  • Optimizations and patches get rolled out during maintenance windows to avoid uptime disruptions.

Backup and Disaster Recovery

  • Performs periodic backups and tests restoration to ensure business continuity.
  • Recovers data and rebuilds systems rapidly during outages to minimize downtime.
  • Provides resiliency against ransomware, human errors, natural disasters, and other worst-case scenarios.

Security Management

  • Installs, configures, and manages firewalls, antivirus, email security, endpoint protection, VPN access, and more.
  • Performs vulnerability testing and remediation, log analysis, penetration testing, dark web monitoring, and other proactive measures.
  • Provides education to users on cybersecurity best practices to improve resilience.

Patch Management

  • Automates system patching, software updates, and configurations for performance and compliance.
  • Schedules upgrades during maintenance windows to avoid disrupting users during business hours.
  • Eliminates many vulnerabilities quickly by automating time-consuming tasks.

Cloud Services

  • Migrates, manages, and supports cloud infrastructure solutions.
  • Provides expertise with leading IaaS and SaaS platforms, optimizing cloud-based operations.
  • Enables hybrid cloud environments, allowing businesses to find the right balance of cloud and on-prem.

Remote IT Administration

  • Remotely handles routine maintenance, installations, upgrades, and configurations.
  • Performs technical implementations at scale across environments from a central NOC.
  • Frees up internal IT staff to focus on strategic initiatives rather than day-to-day upkeep.

Procurement and Asset Management

  • Manages software licenses, hardware lifecycles, and inventory.
  • Leverages economies of scale to procure equipment and software at discounts.
  • Optimizes budgets by aligning purchases with business needs and retirement schedules.

Who Should Consider Utilizing an MSP?

Many organizations can benefit from MSPs. The best candidates include:

Managed IT Services Benefits, Offerings & Providers

Managed IT Services Benefits, Offerings & Providers

Growing Companies

  • Scaling businesses often outpace internal IT staff. MSPs provide flexible support attuned to growth surges and dips.
  • Allows leadership to stay focused on growth without disruptive tech resource constraints.

Companies with Limited Internal IT Resources

  • Smaller businesses gain enterprise-level technology capabilities without large staffing investments.
  • Internal resources are freed to work on more strategic initiatives aligned with core goals.

Organizations Seeking Enhanced IT Security

  • MSPs offer sophisticated security expertise to guard against modern threats from ransomware to nation-state actors.
  • Cost-prohibitive cybersecurity tools and skill sets become affordable. Compliance demands are also met effortlessly.

Businesses Looking to Reduce IT Costs

  • MSPs provide predictable expenses and allow IT spending reallocation to other business needs.
  • Built-in redundancies and large-scale resources reduce costs compared to in-house solutions.

Companies with Departing IT Leadership

  • MSPs provide continuity during leadership transitions and IT team restructuring.
  • Eliminates need to immediately backfill specialty skills lost through attrition.

Any Organizations Seeking to Focus on Core Goals

  • Outsourcing IT allows refocusing on business growth and innovation rather than maintenance.
  • Leadership spends less time grappling with technology issues and more time progressing the business.

Key Takeaways on Managed IT Services

  • MSPs remotely monitor, manage, and support IT operations using advanced automation tools.
  • Key benefits include reduced business disruptions, improved security and compliance, controlled costs, and less distraction from core goals.
  • Services include help desk support, infrastructure monitoring, backup and disaster recovery, security management, cloud services, and more.
  • Growing companies, organizations with limited IT staff, and those seeking security typically benefit most from MSPs.
  • By outsourcing technology maintenance and optimization to experts, businesses can focus on innovation and growth.

Finding the Right Managed IT Services Provider

Once you decide to leverage an MSP, it's essential to find the right partner that will meet your needs and become a trusted advisor. Here are best practices for evaluating providers:

Clearly Define Your Requirements

  • Detail the services and outcomes your business needs from an MSP. This includes help desk hours, response times, proactive maintenance, security tools, reporting needs, and more.
  • Define expected SLAs around issues like network uptime percentage, maximum server downtime, response times, etc.

Research Industry Reputation

  • Look for established MSPs with a solid industry reputation. Long histories and name brand clients are positive signs.
  • Google them to uncover any serious allegations. Check for quality MSP certifications like HITRUST and ISO 20000.

Compare Service Offerings

  • Create a checklist of your ideal services and compare providers. Evaluate integrated platforms, security capabilities, support for emerging tech, and overall comprehensiveness.
  • Ensure core offerings like network monitoring, help desk, backup/DR, and security management are robust.

Assess Culture and Communication

  • Vet providers for clear communication and a culture that will mesh with your organization.
  • Look for transparent processes, proactive recommendations, executive access, and advisory-focused relationships.

Validate Technical Expertise

  • Examine technologies, credentials, and processes to validate expertise across infrastructure, security, compliance, cloud platforms, and more.
  • Require key staff biographies and time on staff. Seek specialized expertise where needed.

Request Customer References

  • Reach out to current and past MSP clients to hear experiences firsthand.
  • Ask about response times, knowledge levels, services, strategic insights, and overall working relationships.

Compare Cost Structures

  • Price should not be the driving factor – focus on value over lowest cost.
  • Compare project costs and service bundles. Seek month-to-month flexibility and clear SLAs.

Launching a Successful Managed IT Partnership

Once you select an MSP, the real work begins to build a productive long-term relationship. Here are best practices to set the engagement up for success:

Start with a Thorough Audit

  • Allow the MSP to perform a comprehensive audit of your technology stack and processes. This builds understanding needed to customize the engagement.

Define Milestones and Requirements

  • Outline objectives, project plans, technical requirements, SLAs, and key results you want to achieve from the partnership.

Formalize Workflows

  • Document incident response processes, change control procedures, maintenance windows, communications protocols, and other workflows.

Hold Progress Meetings

  • Schedule periodic meetings to review performance metrics, discuss roadblocks, provide feedback, and align on next steps for continuous improvement.

Give Feedback Early and Often

  • Do not wait for renewals to provide feedback. Voice satisfaction and concerns quickly so the MSP can respond and exceed expectations.

Treat the MSP Like Family

  • When you feel heard, understood, and cared for, you are more invested in the relationship. MSPs should feel like trusted partners, not vendors.

Plan for the Long Term

  • Avoid viewing the MSP as a short-term bandage. Create a long-term strategy to maximize the partnership over years, not months.

The Future of Managed IT Services

The IT landscape will continue evolving rapidly. MSPs will play an expanding role helping businesses cost-effectively adapt and thrive. Key trends to expect:

  • Continued growth of managed security service providers (MSSPs) as threats become more sophisticated
  • Increased MSP support for cloud migrations, hybrid infrastructure management, and SaaS application integration
  • More IT automation handing common tasks while humans focus on high-value activities
  • MSP services consumed on-demand via self-service portals by business users
  • Growth of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced analytics within MSP platforms
  • Increased delivery of on-demand project resources to support temporary initiatives
  • Tighter integration between MSPs and technology vendors to simplify procurement and implementation

The future looks bright for managed IT services as they empower organizations to innovate and grow without the burdens of technology. Businesses get to focus on what matters most while MSPs handle the rest as trusted partners.

 

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