What are Managed Services?
The simplest definition of managed services is that it is the process of a business outsourcing their Information Technology hardware and software needs to a provider. The Managed Services Provider handles all of the day to day and long-term monitoring, managing and/or problem resolution for the IT systems within a business.
Managed services is a hands off approach for the business, allowing employees to get right to work, not having to worry about connectivity and hardware functionality. The systems “just work” and the business has a 24 hour on call troubleshooting service as well as regular system maintenance and preventative care. Managed services all started with traditional troubleshooting services or “break-fix” IT Services. This consisted of a business purchasing all of the needed hardware and hiring an install team to set everything up. The business would then hire an IT solutions consultant to create the network get the system up and running. Then, the business calls a troubleshooting line or technician when something breaks.
The traditional break-fix model is entirely reactive and puts much of the management and day to day decisions within IT on the business owner, distracting from primary lines of business. The best IT Services companies and support technicians started to notice the reactive trend and began basic preventative maintenance measures on their own, scheduling regular visits to client locations and performing data backups with a “just in case” mentality. This was a big step forward, but these preventative maintenance measures and backups only happened when the service technician was on site, leaving major gaps in coverage and long times in between data backups.
The proactive move toward preventative IT maintenance happened at the same time in the early 2000s that hardware and software development started to allow greater capabilities. Larger companies began demanding more consistent network up time and fewer errors. This spurred the move to fully managed services around 2005 when systems matured to the point to allow real time monitoring of networks and IT systems.
The goal of Managed IT Services is two-fold. The first goal is that everything on the network that could result in a symptom for the end user is identified before or when it happens, and the managed services provider is notified in real time. The second goal is that every alert be something important requiring the attention of the provider. If both of these are achieved, then the managed services provider will see and solve symptoms in near real time, and not be distracted by error messages or tickets that do not require the provider’s attention.
The industry has advanced significantly in the past 10 years and now hardware and software systems that allow fully managed services are well within the financial reach of small and mid-sized businesses. Additionally, a full managed services package today costs far less than break-fix services just a few years ago. Managed services are now the standard for efficient and low down time networks.