Managed IT services allow companies to work with a managed service provider (MSP) that will take over responsibility for maintaining and anticipating the need to upgrade processes and functions to improve operations and reduce expenses. The range of remote hybrid information technology solutions varies from a specific on-demand need to ongoing coverage of multiple duties.
Partnering with a managed service provider can leverage IT managed services to reduce the in-house workload and overhead, increase efficiency and improve uptime management, and fill gaps in tech roles and the professional skills of tech staff. These services are available for on-premise infrastructure and private cloud storage. The crucial point when contracting with an MSP for cloud management is to make sure the provider is compliant with local and global regulations, and that it follows necessary data protection and privacy standards.
In this article, we define managed IT services, list the types of services offered, the advantages and disadvantages of using these services, and explain why your company may need managed IT services.
- What is Managed Services in the IT Industry
- What is Included in Managed IT Services
- Types of Managed IT Services
- Managed IT Support
- Cloud-Based Managed Services
- What are the Benefits of Managed IT Services
- Managed IT Services Disadvantages
- What to Look for in an MSP
- Why Would You Need to Use Managed IT Services
What is Managed Services in the IT Industry?
Managed IT services, also known as outsourced IT, is a third-party service that provides infrastructure, IT solutions and other technical support for organizations’ web development, mobile development and embedded development.
There are many managed services solutions including ones that cover cybersecurity requirements, voice over IP (VoIP) solutions and backup recovery for example. Companies can use managed IT support services when they don’t want to hire and manage their own in-house IT team, or when they want the expertise and advantages provided by outsourcing.
What is Included in Managed IT Services?
Managed infrastructure services cover multiple responsibilities, but they traditionally include:
- Remote monitoring and management of hardware and software infrastructure like network monitoring, management and security
- Managed IT security services such as penetration testing, threat hunting and incident response
- Cloud managed services that also involve configuration and monitoring (these services can be provided in partnership with or outside of MSPs)
- Communication support including VoIP services
Types of Managed IT Services
When choosing a managed service provider, keep in mind that not every provider can offer all types of managed services. Some MSPs may provide all the services you need, while others may specialize in a specific service.
Below we describe the main types of managed IT services:
Managed Networks and Infrastructure
This service type requires MSPs to perform network tasks that include establishing local area networks (LANs), wireless application protocols (WAPs), and other elements such as managed firewall services, content delivery network and managed load balancing. Backup and storage options also include this type of service, which makes your network infrastructure secure, available and performing as it should by delivering maximum value to your business.
This service addresses business security needs. It refers to remote security infrastructure and involves everything from backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solutions to anti-malware options, including threat, cloud, infrastructure, data, identity and response management.
Managed Support Services
Managed IT support services include all services regarding IT help, from troubleshooting to addressing advanced issues. Coverage options are generally offered with a fixed fee model and range from regular business hours to 24/7 coverage to suit any business needs. IT managed services is a scalable model and this means you can include additional solutions based on the company’s business needs. With round-the-clock service, the managed support team is always on and can predict a possible disruption and take proactive measures to remediate it.
Managed Print Services
Managed print services are offered by an external provider to optimize or manage a company’s document output. With this type of service, an MSP will remotely help with data and file infrastructure. This type of managed IT service is critical for companies that have complex file management requirements as it helps to save time, improve efficiency, reduce costs and improve security.
Managed Cloud Infrastructure
Managed cloud services offer partial or complete management of cloud resources or infrastructure for a business. Cloud infrastructure management responsibilities can include migration, configuration, optimization, security and maintenance. Also, some MSPs can offer specific virtualization services for applications, software, operating systems and other needs. At the infrastructure level, cloud managed services include architecture guidance; system administration and operations (Ops); continuous system monitoring, alerting, and reporting; performance testing and tuning; and Domain Name System (DNS) management.
Managed Software as a Service (SaaS)
This particular service type requires MSPs to provide organizations with a software platform that is traditionally subscription-based. Some examples include Office 365 or anti-virus software. The difference from traditional SaaS software is the inclusion of one or more human software operators in the software service offering more customization, support, training and value.
Managed Wireless and Mobile Computing
Managed services in the area of wireless and mobile computing refer to delivering remote management, maintenance and technical support services for a variety of technology solutions. MSPs that offer wireless and mobile computing services apply wireless connections and ensure wireless networks availability and consistent connectivity. This type of service is helpful for companies that do not want to invest in creating their own connections. Businesses can also use this service for internal networks.
Managed Communication Services
These services provide a variety of communications infrastructure, including messaging software solutions, VoIP, data and video to simplify your business communications and get a zero-cost advantage in the maintenance of technology infrastructure. In some cases, MSPs can perform as third-party call centers. It can be deployed on-premise or through the cloud.
Managed analytics offers a smart alternative to many of the challenges companies face without them needing to make large upfront investments in time and resources. Analytics allow warehousing and integrating of key internal and external data through easy-to-grasp custom dashboards, reports and scorecards. This type of service is easy to launch, offers knowledgeable support and generates value quickly.
The managed IT services market is extremely diverse and offers a vast range of options to address numerous challenges businesses face in the matured and sophisticated market. That is good news for companies because they can find any services needed for their IT operations. They can even partner with an MSP that will cover all of their tech needs thereby avoiding IT staffing and investments in technology upgrades.
Managed IT Support
In addition to specialized services, MSPs also offer support through staffing services. IT support is a critical area because it is almost impossible to anticipate all the tech challenges that come up and have staff capable of solving the issues. Also, your existing IT solutions may lack long-term stability.
That is when managed IT support services are valuable. Like other types of managed services, IT support services are provided via a third-party. The difference is that the previous ones noted are at the staff level.
Advantages of Managed IT Support
Among the major benefits of managed IT support services is its ability to fill gaps in roles and shortcoming of the professional skills of tech staff. An effective vendor has specialists and IT experts with vast experience and skills. That allows them to implement various solutions and strategies which can improve work performance.
Managed IT support brings the benefit of cost savings because companies don’t have to have in-house IT personnel savings. Also, the ability to predict and overcome performance issues resulting in downtime means increased efficiency for your business operations.
Cloud-Based Managed Services
Cloud-based managed IT services are on rise as more businesses adopt cloud models to automate and enhance business operations. And those cloud solutions require support and oftentimes internal IT departments don't possess the skills to effectively monitor and maintain a cloud environment.
Thanks to cloud managed services, organizations can obtain remote assistance with many things including IT troubleshooting, network creation, cybersecurity issues, responsive support and data monitoring. Companies can also augment their personnel and infrastructure in lacking areas with these services, and provide a proactive approach regarding their framework. For instance, data monitoring by a cloud-managed vendor will track the company’s bandwidth use, and security monitoring ensures the safety of the business network because it searches for unusual activity and malware.
What are the Benefits of Managed IT Services?
Partnering with the right MSP can give a company numerous advantages both in terms of finance and value. The key ones are:
Contractual terms and predictable spending
Managed IT services allow a company to set contractual terms for various IT tasks that involve your service level agreements (SLAs). That means recruiting, hiring and training IT employees is not your concern, and you only pay for necessary services and avoid the cost of maintaining full-time IT staff. Moreover, you avoid costly investments in IT systems and infrastructure as these expenses are consolidated into a single, fixed set of operational expenditure (OPEX) in the form of outsourced IT services.
Expertise and experience
MSPs employ highly skilled engineers which can be difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to recruit and afford. When partnered with a MSP, smaller companies can gain access to top-notch IT administrators with specific skills, qualifications, training, certifications and experience specific to your industry. An IT support company also provides your business with access to the newest technology on the market, and that technology can be implemented quickly and smoothly.
Managed IT support services will free your organization from IT duties and provide more time to devote to the core business that generates revenue. MSPs can also provide guidance and recommendations regarding the optimization of your infrastructure’s performance. That can result in increased productivity and better return on investment (ROI).
Data compliance and security
IT initiatives in some business areas must meet strict standards and requirements as many governments and industry groups have specific rules in regards to privacy, financial services, retail establishments, and reporting and security in healthcare. Managed providers are well-versed with such standards and are able to comply with them, as well as cope with the pitfalls related to cyber security and sensitive information.
Better uptime management and issue fixing
To ensure that your team can always be productive, MSPs can provide system updates and support during off-hours leading to greater uptime and reduced workflow disruptions. Flexible schedules of managed IT service providers make your business available for your users day, night, weekends and during holidays. With a support services provider on your side monitoring and managing your IT, you can catch issues before they escalate into serious problems.
Managed IT Services Disadvantages
Although managed infrastructure services provide many benefits, they aren’t a great match for everyone and have their shortcomings. The negativess include:
- Lack of provider accountability. When selecting an MSP, you need to ensure it has defined service-level agreements (SLAs). If you outsource your IT tasks to an MSP, they should be accountable for clear reporting on services provided and system performance. You should avoid MSPs that are unwilling to share metrics and system data with you.
- Ineffective strategic IT planning due to insufficient synergy between the business and IT team. A good MSP should provide help with planning infrastructure upgrades, configuration changes and other strategic operations. If an MSP does not do that, you will not get what you paid for. MSPs must not only have the right understanding of your current infrastructure, but they must also do their best to manage it considering your business goals and needs. Efficient planning should extend into at least two years beyond project completion.
- Lack of on-site engineer availability. If your company business processes require frequent hands-on assistance, your MSP won’t always be able to be on-site to help you fix urgent issues immediately. This disadvantage however can be eased with on-site assistance or a call to bring in immediate support needed.
- Size restraints. MSPs are best suited for small- or medium-sized businesses rather than big companies that can afford an internal IT department to deal with the scope of work.
- MSPs with a bad track record. When choosing an MSP, you need to analyze its track record with other businesses in your industry. For instance, a reliable MSP will let you know the names of companies they are working with. They may even provide you with an opportunity to talk with a representative from one of their clients. If an MSP won’t prove their value, you might be making a mistake by partnering with them.
What to Look for in an MSP
Let us review the qualities a managed IT services provider should have. The ideal MSP should:
- Offer a flexible and scalable service model. An effective MSP offers the full range of managed IT support services you need and is able to scale with your company and provide more bandwidth, service hours and expertise than you currently need. If not, then your vendor can become a bottleneck that reduces your capacity and overall performance as your company grows or pivots.
- Take a shared approach to managed services. MSP providers need to understand the nuances of a customer’s business and focus on customer goals and outcomes.
- Have agreements and proper reporting. The level of service expected from the MSP is defined by a service-level agreement (SLA) which gives the end user benchmarks and guidelines for things like service reliability, reporting procedures, service exceptions, and consequences for the MSP if they don’t provide the level of service set forth in the SLA.
- Have relevant industry experience. The MSP must know how to custom-fit managed services and adjust processes to provide a more personalized solution for your specific business needs. Moreover, knowledge and the ability to comply with compliance regulations for your industry are also very important.
- Have a solid backup and disaster recovery strategy. Since data is essential to your business, you need to have a detailed game plan in place in the event of data loss or disruption.
- Utilize remote monitoring and management for proactive maintenance. An effective MSP uses a proactive approach to catch issues before they escalate into serious problems that lead to workflow disruptions.
- Have a reliable, single point of contact dedicated to your business. This person should provide round-the-clock support.
Why Would You Need to Use Managed IT Services?
Although IT managed services do not offer a one-size-fits-all solution, they do provide solutions to multiple business challenges faced by companies of all sizes. Managed IT services enable you to handle complex technical areas without the added cost of installation and maintenance, on-call staff and software engineering.
To check if your business is a good fit for managed IT services, here is a list of the most critical reasons to invest in managed infrastructure services:
- High hardware costs. Modern technology architectures are extremely expensive to purchase, and there is no guarantee they will not become obsolete within the next few years. A managed service provider charges fees for their services, but you get your money’s worth because they provide a comprehensive solution for your business.
- Increasingly specialized technologies. Organizations can hire IT staff to build an infrastructure, manage it and address issues throughout the whole IT enterprise. To provide high performance and availability, special IT teams are created for separate IT functions.
- Cost of qualified staff. IT staff is in high demand and does not come cheap so talent is hard to find and they demand high salaries..
- Scarcity of qualified personnel. You may have an IT team in your organization, but is it enough? Can the IT employees provide the necessary IT maintenance?
- Potential cost of continued maintenance. If your IT team do not deal with maintenance, they can focus on business-enhancing tasks, including customer relationship management (CRM) updates or lead generation development through analytics.
Partnering with a managed IT services provider can be beneficial for many companies as MSPs enable clients to run their businesses smoothly and efficiently without wasting resources on support.