Managed IT services offer you a comprehensive range of technology services so you can focus on the core of your operations. The reality is that when it comes to IT, most small-to-medium businesses lack the time, industry knowledge, or resources to set up a complete IT department. Yet software, hardware, networking, monitoring, backup, and disaster recovery are now a critical minimum requirement for operating a business. This is where managed services come in.
If you hire a managed IT service – which includes those offered by cloud providers – you not only save yourself stress and time, but also benefit from the industry expertise of the IT managed services provider. An expert managed services provider raises the bar on the quality of your IT services and helps your in-house staff to focus on work that’s specific to your main business activities. It’s a win-win situation!
You’re probably now wondering: “Do I need a managed services provider?” In this guide, we’ll look at various aspects of managed services so you can decide. We’ll start with what’s involved in broad terms.
- What Are Managed IT Services?
- Do You Need Managed IT Services?
- Cloud Computing Services
- Cybersecurity Services
- Remote Monitoring
- Disaster Recovery (DR)
- What is a Co-Managed IT service?
- How To Choose the Right Managed Service Provider
- Onboarding a Managed IT Service Provider to Your Business
What Are Managed IT Services?
The term “managed IT services” refers to a third-party managed services company that runs all or some of your IT operations and functions remotely. Businesses hire a managed services provider (MSP) for a set of defined roles including
- improving the efficiency of your systems with the best in tech,
- keeping your software up to date and identical for all employees,
- proactively monitoring your network and maintaining its operation, and
- providing cybersecurity services to foresee and prevent threats and attacks.
Managed service providers may operate locally to maintain your systems in this way, or they may also be cloud providers and offer you Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).
Do You Need Managed IT Services?
If you’re thinking of increasing your operational expenditure (OpEx) to partner with a services provider – and expect some ROI – the obvious thing is to consider the benefits a service provider can offer you. There are four:
They make your job easier.
You can focus on the whole business instead of worrying about having enough IT skills for today’s threats.
You don’t have to plan ahead for IT.
Managed IT services evaluate current and future IT needs and advise you on products and services you should implement. They monitor and manage your hardware and infrastructure to prevent issues from escalating into serious problems.
Your business security improves.
A managed security services provider assesses and removes avoidable risks by scheduling, updating, and maintaining security tasks. In addition, security services will include monitoring, penetration testing, threat hunting, and incident response.
You experience little to no downtime.
That’s due to remote monitoring (see below). Security services monitor your network 24/7/365 to stay ahead of any threat to your network and your business at large, and keep your systems up.
In light of the above benefits, let’s look at some of the common solutions you can get with managed IT services.
Cloud Computing Services
Cloud services reduce your on-premises IT footprint. However, the overall advantage of cloud providers over a local managed IT service provider is that you have access to all their cloud services including
- cloud migration
- data storage and backup, and
- customer support on demand.
This allows your teams to easily share, store, and access data remotely from anywhere. In today’s world, that’s critical.
In addition, with a cloud provider as your managed services provider, you can scale up according to need, simply by changing your subscription level. This means you’re investing in your business growth at the same time.
Managed IT services from a cloud provider also ensure you can access all the other managed services we’re moving on to mention now: cybersecurity services (including data protection), remote monitoring, and disaster recovery.
1 Cybersecurity Services
A sound cybersecurity strategy provided by expert services providers is critical now that cyberattacks are frequent and damaging. Your own and your clients’ data is your most valuable asset – and security services can protect it better than a small in-house team is able to.
Moreover, managed security services experts are better qualified to deploy the newest technology as it becomes available.
But how do they protect your data? Cybersecurity managed services put in place a data protection strategy for your files, applications, and servers. The reason is that these are the areas most often targeted by hackers, ransomware, malware, or malicious countries. Managed services have years of experience in data protection – far more than your best IT staff. That’s because managed services live and breathe cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity services providers also maintain layers of backup for your data in different locations, and they have recovery methods to reinstate your hardware and your cloud environment as soon as possible after any event.
However, managed service providers will foresee and prevent most attacks getting through – they bring their expertise to today’s ever-changing threat landscape and ensure round-the-clock security monitoring.
2 Remote Monitoring
Remote monitoring is a foundational service that lets managed services monitor your network, servers, desktops, and mobile devices off-premise. To do this they utilize a set of services, agent software, and tools that monitor, manage, and deploy solutions to servers and endpoint devices.
With this infrastructure in place at your location, managed services providers can ensure efficient network infrastructure control and management. If you choose to buy in remote monitoring offered by managed services providers, they can provide these functions:
- Gathering insight about your network and each machine’s health and status, and supplying reports and data about your systems and network while keeping them up to date.
- Tracking and resolving issues remotely, even before you notice and raise a ticket.
- Remotely administering necessary tasks, patches, installation of software, and software updates using a unified dashboard.
- Automating routine scheduled maintenance tasks at your location.
3 Disaster Recovery (DR)
Disaster recovery involves the managed services regaining for you total access to – and functionality of – your IT infrastructure and data after events like
- natural disasters,
- power outages,
- employee carelessness, or
Managed service providers have a variety of solutions to implement as part of this recovery plan, depending on the areas of business affected. For this reason, partnering with a good managed services support provider will help you plan for the future, protect your data, and make certain your business can recover quickly from a disruptive event.
How does DR work?
DR relies on having all data safely stored in an off-premises location that’s not affected by the disaster. This is important because natural disasters and theft can cause the physical servers to go down, threatening data loss. On-site physical backups are not adequate in themselves. Keeping even a physical backup in an alternative location makes it easier to recover the data lost in these cases. However, the safest and best backup is in the cloud. Cloud service providers keep several backups of your backups on different servers!
In addition, if your hardware takes a malicious hit, you’ll need another source of operating as well as off-site data storage. This is where cloud providers who offer virtual desktops have an edge. How? They can simply delete the virtual desktop and set up a new one.
Disaster recovery as a service (DR-aa-S)
As data is the most valuable asset in your business, it’s important you can recover quickly from any kind of disaster to keep your business running. Choosing a managed disaster recovery service provider is a good option even on its own, because it’s an affordable safety net. When looking for managed services, it’s a good idea to ask them about this possibility.
What is a Co-Managed IT Service?
Co-managed IT services are a business model that provides your organization with an opportunity to blend your in-house IT team with the expertise and support of a managed service provider. It’s a partnership. The managed services enhance and supplement your existing IT team in order to serve your clients better and improve the quality of your operations.
However, some businesses still hesitate to adopt co-managed IT, fearing it will replace their current team. This doesn’t happen with managed services of a high standard.
But why might your organization adopt this model?
- In the long run, the managed services team working alongside your internal team will help with things that benefit your business continuity. For instance, if an employee leaves, the team will fill any voids left until you appoint someone new.
- You get to enjoy some extra benefits that come from the MSP’s years of experience. For example, they’re used to dealing with their other clients’ systems, so they’re able to predict future challenges for your firm or resolve problems beyond your staff’s capabilities.
- You also have the option of deciding not to hire new in-house IT employees! Highly skilled talent comes at a cost these days, whereas you’ll have the MSP’s unbeatable team onboard if you take the managed services route.
How To Choose the Right Managed Service Provider
There are many factors unique to you that may influence your decision. And making the right decision will affect your business’s future.
However we believe, the following are some important factors to consider before making your decision:
- The scope of services and customer support your MSP will be providing
- The details of the service level agreement (see below)
- How relevant the MSP will be to your business
- Their technical expertise, combined experience, and proven certifications
- Credibility, and references from previous clients
- Their company culture, work style, and practices
Onboarding a Managed IT Service Provider to Your Business
Once you’re convinced managed IT services are for you, and you find the right provider, the onboarding process is a crucial step that will set the tone for your entire relationship with the MSP.
The goal is to feel you made the right decision by hiring them and not to have to question them down the line. So, just like with anything else, the process should be planned to ensure a smooth transition.
To be successful, the onboarding process should include everything from the point where a managed services agreement is signed to go-live.
Step 1 Assess and agree a roadmap
Your new MSP partnership will probably start with an assessment of your IT and technology foundations. They will want to ensure your present setup meets their high standards. This is to ensure they are building their cybersecurity principles, policies, and procedures on a good base. The roadmap you both agree on will likely include sorting any problems out to start with!
Step 2 Onboarding and alignment
Your new managed services provider will have the expertise we’ve already mentioned. They’ve set up many clients in many different circumstances. The provider will therefore be happy to set up a sound onboarding policy that will include documentation of the infrastructure and best practices. They’ll explain what they expect of your staff in terms of security practices and also what they’ll be doing to plan ahead and prevent issues.
They’ll also expect to have frequent, open communication with you to ensure you’re happy. This starts with a service level agreement (SLA).
The SLA is a contract between you and the MSP and specifies every detail in terms of the expected level of performance and responsibilities from both sides. A great MSP helps you define your service expectations and guides you through all the services you need from them.
What’s included in my service agreement?
Let’s break down what’s inside the service level agreement.
- Agreement and service description
- Availability and responsiveness
- Procedures for reporting
- Monitoring and reporting
- Client responsibilities
- Data protection concerning confidential information
Step 3 Operate and adapt
This is the exciting bit when you mentally hand over the worries about managing your IT with limited resources! You’ll find a lot of processes now feature automation where you once had to keep an eye on things. In addition, you’ll find your managed services work well to
- monitor your setup expertly
- maintain your cloud security if you choose a cloud migration service
- minimize your risk exposure
- keep you up to date with industry best standards for managed security services
- ensure your business success.
We Can Help You
We, at Uprite, understand how important it is for managed IT services to live up to expectations. Since 1999, we’ve been doing just that! Organizations across Houston have trusted us and discovered that responsive IT support, proactive technology management, and secure solutions with no corner-cutting are ingrained in our DNA.
For this reason we don’t require long-term contracts or up-front fees. We’ve proven over and again that when you choose Uprite as your managed IT services provider, you’ll have an awesome IT experience. Contact us and find out how you can benefit today!