What the Heck is “Managed Services”?
By Mitchell R. Sowards
“Managed Services” is a vague term used in the IT industry that most people do not understand and even companies offering services labeled as such have a hard time explaining it. In fact, just about EVERYONE claims to be delivering “managed services” these days, but they are not. And people use the term differently to mean things which fall far short of true managed services. Here is a quick guide to understanding what “managed services” really is, and how to recognize imposters.
What Managed Services Isn’t
First let’s talk about the opposite of “Managed Services” – that would be “Unmanaged Services”, which is what most small businesses and many medium sized businesses do today. In “unmanaged services”:
You have little or no idea of the state of your IT infrastructure
Little or no effort is expended in keeping things secure, reliable, and optimized (which means they are probably unsecure, unreliable, and getting worse every day).
Expenses are completely uncontrolled and just “happen” whenever something breaks or goes wrong. Thus IT expenses spike and dip from month to month.
Malfunctions occur more often than they should and cost your business money due to downtime.
What Managed Services Is
So, by contrast MANAGED SERVICES would be:
Having good insight into the state of your network ALL THE TIME.
Having proactive services performed regularly to keep your systems Secure, Reliable, and Optimized ALL THE TIME.
Having the highest possible “uptime” for all of your systems
Having an expense that is predictable and budget-able and affordable.
The Goal of Managed Services
A Managed Services plan strives to minimize the overall costs associated with maintaining the devices being managed by minimizing downtime and optimizing performance while charging a relatively fixed, affordable monthly fee.
Now lots of other companies these days claim to be offering managed services:
It’s Not an insurance policy: Some charge you a big fat fee for “managing” your server and promise that if anything goes wrong it’ll be covered at no extra charge. That’s not managed services; THAT’S just an insurance policy. Those companies are not actually DOING much for you on a regular basis. They just charge you a monthly fee for not doing very much except assuming some risk in case something goes wrong. But you will never achieve a truly secure, reliable, and optimized platform from such a plan.
It’s Not just “monitoring”: Some will implement a little “monitoring” or have your server “send a report” from time to time. But “MONITORING” is not “MANAGEMENT”. They’ll just know a little sooner if something goes wrong, but they’re still basically “reactive” rather than “proactive”.
It’s Not just regularly scheduled visits: Some companies will send technicians to your office from time to time to check things out. That’s the old “PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE” model like blowing out the dust in PCs. There is extremely little value in this unless a LOT of time is spent (which would then be expensive).
It’s NOT automated tools: Many companies will install automated tools for protecting you from viruses, spyware etc. and for optimizing your systems’ performance. But those tools are not bulletproof and typically fail between 5% and 15% of the time! Anyone who simply installs a bunch of automated tools but who cannot demonstrate a regular, rigid, and documented schedule in which they review and correct problems is not providing a service worth paying for. You might as well just buy the tools yourself and hope that they work.
Minimum Requirements for a True “Managed Services” Service Plan
As far as ENTRUST is concerned, delivering true managed services requires that we touch your network a little bit every day, a little bit more every week, a little bit more every month. “Managed Services” must include these essential elements, at a bare minimum:
24x7x365 monitoring of and reporting on key network elements
A whole range of proactive services delivered every day, every week, and everymonth designed to make sure that all of your systems are kept Secure, Reliable, and Optimized ALL THE TIME – not just occasionally.
Remote support for every server, desktop, or laptop (we fix problems wherever youare without you having to wait for us to get in our cars and drive to you.)
Some level of built-in “on-call” support for planned and unplanned events.
All services delivered remotely in a secure fashion.
If someone claims to be providing “Managed Services” but they are NOT doing at least ALL of those things, then they’re still offering you expensive “unmanaged” services. They are charging you a monthly fee but not delivering the benefits of a truly managed environment.
ONE MORE THING: Some companies that offer “managed services” are actually just reselling the services of other faraway providers in India or Pittsburgh or somewhere else. ENTRUST doesn’t do that. Since 2003 we have been delivering OUR services ourselves with local IT professionals. So the same team that is performing all of the proactive services is also the team you are talking to on the phone and also the ones who will get in their car and come to your office when necessary.
So, in summary:
If you want to have a predictable, budget-able, and affordable IT expense and if
You want your network to be Secure, Reliable, and Optimized ALL the time, and if
You want to minimize costs related to computer downtime
Then an ENTRUST “Managed Services” plan is what you need!
Learn more at: www.ntrusts.com
Contact us at: [email protected]
Call us at: 866-863-4738