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When you say “NO” to Managed Services on your IT systems, be sure you are not saying “YES” to risk.

Internal IT teams are best focused on strategic applications where a managed service is not available.  For your critical servers, routers, back-ups, internet, File Shares, Microsoft systems (e.g. Exchange Mailboxes, SharePoint and CRM systems), outsourcing your IT support and management of your IT system makes financial sense.  Even larger companies should outsource non-core business functions to specialist.

Over the last 10 years, we have come across many small businesses that say “no” to managed services and try to save money by enlisting in some form of “casual support”.        We believe folks that have “casual support” are playing Russian roulette with their IT infrastructure.

Recent Examples:risk

1) A well intentioned CFO said he’d “wait” and do managed services “later”.     (We in IT know that “waiting til later” is often a euphemism or polite way of saying “no”.)     Later in the year, they had a major server outtage caused by corruption of their server.  When we told the MD what the CFO had said, he informed us that the CFO advised him to save money by not signing a contract.   Luckily, their back-ups were working.   We were able to repair the server and reinstall all the data within 48 hours.      If the back-ups were corrupt, they would have lost all their data!

2) A penny pinching MD avoided spending any money on IT support.   His network and data were attacked (Malware) with the well-known Ransom virus.    The virus automatically encrypted his data so that his staff could not access it.   They refused to pay ransom money to “unlock” the data and their back-ups were not working.    They lost some financial data and had to rebuild from scratch.

The above problems could have been avoided altogether if they had subscribed to managed services.

So What is Managed Services?   And Why can’t my IT guy do it?

From MSPMentor 2013 report:

Generally speaking, Managed Service Providers use remote monitoring and management and IT automation software to proactively maintain customer systems (servers, desktops, mobiledevices, network infrastructure, applications, cloud services etc.).

Managed Services

According to MSPmentor survey of 500 Managed Service Providers, the top ten managed services offered are:

  • Remote Monitoring
  • Managed Storage, Backup, Disaster Recovery
  • Help Desks,
  • Patch Management
  • Managed Security Services
  • Software License Management
  • Network Operations Center services
  • Mobile Device Management
  • Vendor Management
  • Warranty Management

Proactively testing, monitoring and patching all critical devices in the network with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) specifying response times for any minor or major fault and keeping track of warranties and licenses are part of what differentiates Managed Services from Casual Support.   Critical devices include Servers, Back-up systems and Routers, but can include mobile devices in some businesses.   A pro-active plan includes a back-up restore test to ensure back-ups are not corrupt. and frequent checking of error logs, hard disk space, CPU capacity and other indicators of network or hardware issues.

Casual Support

Another word for casual support is “Reactive”.   Effectively, this is “set-up” and forget til something goes wrong.    This is very much an Australian “She’ll be alright” attitude.  No Server Level Agreements with Casual support means you have no guaranteed response or resolution times from your supplier.

Why You can’t say no to Managed Services?

1. The Casual support person/team will not be familiar with your network or your applications.   This means it will take them longer to support you and they could potentially make matters worse by “following standard proceedures”.     (An example of this is to apply all the updates, not realising that one of them can bring down your network.)

2. You will not have the latest patches and therefore will be vulnerable to virus attacks

3. When you call for support, the person is not able to help you or you because you are not a priority.

4. Many of the “failures” are avoided when proactive steps are taken

5. Risk Mitigation.   For a list of common risks or potential failures, see here.

References:

1) For information on Managed Services, refer to http://mspmentor.net/

2) For Top Five Trends in Managed Services in 2014, refer to this CRN article:  Top Five Trends For Managed Services in 2014.

3) To read entire paper from Gartner on IT Risk, see IT Risk, Turning Business Threats into Competitive Advantage, Harvard Business School Press, June 2007, excerpted from IT Risk by George Westerman and Richard Hunter, Copyright George Westerman and Garner, Inc.

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