For many small businesses, hiring an information technology (IT) staff is quite costly. Managed service providers allow them to offload certain IT operations. These organizations assume responsibility for monitoring, managing and resolving IT systems and functions for the business.
Managed service providers offer a wide range of services, from alerts to data security to patch management to data backup and recovery. And, best of all, they can perform these services on most any device used for business, from desktop PCs to laptops to servers to mobile devices.
Offloading the management of a company’s infrastructure to experienced managed services professionals allows the company to redirect its concentration to running the business without all the IT interruptions.
Managed service providers typically work via a monthly or yearly subscription. The subscription price ultimately depends on the number of devices a company needs supported and the levels of support it requires. Pricing will fluctuate based on the number of devices and will offer varying levels of support for added customization of services. Remote customer support is typically included, though the option of onsite customer support can be purchased too for an additional fee.
Basic services typically begin with a simple monitoring service to notify company officials of problems to resolve on their own. At the other end of the service spectrum, providers can fully manage services from simple alerts to actual problem resolution. Prior to locking a company in to a specific service level, the provider will typically perform an initial assessment of a company’s current IT environment and management requirements to ensure the right services are selected.
The necessity of managed services
Small businesses need technology to remain fully operational and competitive, just like larger companies do. But a company’s dependence on IT grows with the amount of resources used within a company. In the absence of funding to hire IT staff, or even in the case of qualified IT applicant shortages, managed service providers can step in to maintain the day-to-day responsibilities of a company’s IT infrastructure.
For example, companies need to regularly create backups of data on individual devices and install software patches and security updates. Falling behind on either of these can create serious security issues with irreparable damage should a problem occur. If a email server, customer relationship management software or even the entire network go offline unexpectedly, the business stands to lose money with each hour they remain inaccessible.
Managed service providers are the solution in the face of inevitable IT problems, taking care of the routine or even mundane tasks to free you or existing IT staff up to focus on more important tasks. By simply monitoring and maintaining your systems, this service can help you avoid countless technology problems and address existing ones even faster.
Enlisting the aid of a managed service provider does not require you to surrender complete control of your IT assets. Instead, you get to pick what elements of your IT infrastructure are taken care of externally versus what you still want to handle within your business. You can ultimately retain full oversight into the processes and management of your system without losing control over the services being monitored.
Managed service providers
Countless organizations exist to address this common problem among small business owners. Of the many services out there, companies like mindSHIFT Technologies, Inc.; Perimeter eSecurity; and Alpheon Corp. are among the top providers of IT infrastructure monitoring. When researching managed service providers, you must first understand what your requirements are. For example, answer some of the following questions with regard to your current business operations:
- How is your current level and quality of IT support presently?
- What are the problem points and inefficiencies in your current IT infrastructure?
- How do downtime and outages affect your business?
If you fully understand the answers to these questions, then you’re ready to shop for managed service providers. Then it simply becomes a matter of finding one that will effectively integrated into your IT infrastructure and budgetary requirements to create a truly flexible and proactive approach to keeping your business online.