A Deep Dive into Managed Services

IT teams are under enormous pressure these days. Managed services are here to take some of the weight off their shoulders and create more effective, secure networks and organizations.

Craig Badrick

All it takes is a quick look at your phone to see that as-a-service solutions are going through a global boom, not only in the tech world, but also in everyday life with everything from Uber to Netflix to DoorDash changing the way we access goods and services. Across the United States and beyond, people are continuously seeking ever more instantaneous, ready-made, flexible solutions to simplify their lives. 

It should come as no surprise then that businesses are turning to as-a-service solutions just as much as individuals are. In particular, many organizations are starting to take advantage of managed IT services to simplify their network management. While managed services can seem confusing or even intimidating at first to businesses that have long relied on in-house IT teams, they offer a broad range of benefits to those who embrace them effectively.

From access to increased expertise, flexibility, and savings to the ability to free up internal staff for more critical projects, managed services make life easier. In this digital story, we’re going to take a deeper look at what exactly we mean when we talk about managed services, the benefits they offer, the industries where they can be most helpful, and what a gradual implementation can look like in the hopes of demystifying the managed services process and demonstrating why desire for it is booming. 

What Are Managed Services?

Before diving into the many benefits of managed services, it’s important to first review what exactly managed services are. Using managed services means outsourcing day-to-day technology responsibilities to a third-party managed services provider, or MSP. Most MSPs charge a flat monthly fee and in return provide tech support, network administration and security, monitoring, data backup, cybersecurity, equipment procurement, maintenance, and more.

While many expect the process of adopting managed services to be a quick one, it’s actually a more gradual journey. You can’t decide to use managed services and be all set the next day — but that’s a good thing. Managed services are not a one-size-fits-all situation, coming in multiple varieties and with numerous services that you can choose to outsource or to keep internal. The slower timeline means you can determine which managed services best suit your specific organization and its needs, making adjustments as you get used to the process until you find the perfect fit.

The Types of Managed Services

As we mentioned, managed services come in multiple varieties. Whether you need equipment maintenance and monitoring, network optimization, or cybersecurity assistance, you’ll be able to find managed services that meet your needs. The most common types of managed services include:

  • Cloud Services: The cloud has become increasingly popular, especially given the rapid rise in remote work — and so have managed cloud services. Managed cloud service providers can deliver everything from consultations, to infrastructure assessments, to cloud migrations, so it’s no wonder many businesses are opting for managed cloud services. MSPs will also usually supply and manage the virtual servers responsible for hosting cloud data, improve IT security, and reduce on-premise infrastructure spending, all of which will further simplify your life. Some MSPs even provide cloud-based networks, computing, and storage or the ability to virtualize your operating systems, software, and apps. 
  • On-Site Services: Also known as managed field services, on-site managed services take the responsibility of installing, maintaining, and repairing equipment and cabling out of your hands. Your MSP can even handle site surveys, wireless tasks, and other IT projects. On top of that, they’ll deal with scheduling and dispatching techs and managing work orders and tickets, so you can focus on other critical tasks.
  • Infrastructure Support Services: MSPs can also provide infrastructure support. However, just as there are many different IT infrastructures, there are many different managed infrastructure service offerings. Not only do MSPs offer overarching services like managed networks, but they also offer specific services like reporting, data analytics, and firewall solutions. No matter what level of infrastructure support service you use, you can trust that your MSP will do everything in its power to ensure your infrastructure is secure, high-performing, and cost-effective.
  • Security Services: Cyberattacks are on the rise. Ransomware attacks nearly doubled in 2021 alone. Quality security is no longer optional, but not every company has the skills, talent, or time to fortify its security. Luckily, if you invest in managed security services, your partner will take care of everything from malware protection to patch management. They’ll also handle security updates, antivirus solutions, firewalls, and backup and disaster recovery solutions. Plus, they’ll monitor your systems for internal and external attacks and alert you as soon as data breaches or other security incidents happen. So, even as cybercriminals become increasingly persistent and sophisticated, you can rest easy knowing that your MSP will help protect your organization.
  • Technology Support Services: Technology support is another popular type of managed support services. If you opt to use technology support services, your MSP can handle any IT projects (think technology assessments, SharePoint builds, and Teams deployments) that you don’t have the expertise or capacity for. In addition to offering their support and technical skills, your MSP can likely provide an accurate project timeline and budget estimate, so you know exactly what to expect and can plan accordingly.
  • End User Services: End users have higher expectations than ever, but some small and midsize businesses don’t have the time, talent, or resources to meet those standards. After all, employees and customers have multiple devices each, so there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong. With limited resources, it can feel impossible to stay on top of everything. End user services generally provide businesses with trained IT support agents that can help resolve users’ technical issues, such as connectivity problems, application upgrades, and operating system errors. 

The Benefits Of Managed Services

No matter what types of managed services you implement, they will come with plenty of benefits that make them a great option for the organizations that adopt them. With managed services, you can:

Avoid Having To Hire New IT Staff Or Overwhelming Your Existing Team

Demand for IT talent is growing faster than the talent pool can keep up, meaning many companies are facing major IT staffing and skills shortages that leave them vulnerable to network performance issues and security incidents. Luckily, managed services can help.

With managed services, you can say goodbye to having an understaffed, overworked IT team and all the risks that come with that. An MSP lets you reduce the size of your IT team, letting your remaining IT staff to focus on essential business functions instead of constantly completing routine tasks and resolving simple problems.

What’s more, managed services can help you fill specific skills gaps. For example, every organization no matter its size needs to make cybersecurity a top priority, but finding a skilled cybersecurity expert — much less one within your budget — can be a challenge. With managed services, you’ll gain access to experts who can implement and maintain cybersecurity protocols for you without having to add another team member to the payroll.  

Scale with Ease

Since you won’t have to hire and maintain an in-house IT team, managed services make scaling your business much easier (and cheaper). That’s because scaling typically requires more IT support. But hiring and training a new IT employee on your own is a time-consuming process that costs thousands of dollars — and once you put in all that effort, the employee might still walk out within a few months or years given the abundance of opportunities for skilled IT professionals. 

With managed services, you can scale without having to worry about the extra burden of navigating your new IT needs. Your MSP can provide all the help you need and, if they do need to hire another staff member to help handle the needs of your growing business, the MSP will absorb training costs and ensure they always have IT experts at the ready. This is particularly useful given that, often, organizations need some more hands on deck during the expansion process, but don’t actually need additional IT staff in the long-term. An MSP delivers that flexibility, giving you the extra help you need when you need it, without putting you on the hook for new hires who won’t have a defined role once the expansion process is complete. In short, managed services enable you to remain flexible, which can be a game-changer when expanding.

Cut Costs

Starting a business requires large upfront expenses, from hiring and training to equipment and server costs. Managed services can significantly reduce those expenses by limiting the number of new hires required to get the businesses up and running. Instead, companies can pay a fee and gain access to IT employees who are trained and ready to go. And those cost savings will continue long after the business is established, since MSPs can handle IT needs at every stage of a business. 

That’s not the only way MSPs can help when it comes to cutting costs. Adopting managed services means moving from CapEx to OpEx since you’ll have a monthly fee that you pay for your IT services that you can plan around. That way you always know your IT spend ahead of time and can make better financial decisions. Even if things go wrong in your network, your budget (and business) will be more stable since the contract with your MSP will cover things like maintenance and repairs, meaning you won’t need to suddenly find additional funds.

Take A Preventative Approach

Far too often, businesses have to take a break/fix approach to their IT due to a lack of resources. Managed services allows organizations to take a preventative approach instead. When you partner with an MSP, they will consistently monitor your network and systems, meaning they can catch and resolve minor problems before they escalate. It makes a massive difference in maximizing efficiency, saving money, improving service quality, and freeing up your in-house team.

Prevention also means less downtime. Consistent monitoring results in fewer equipment malfunctions and failures because your MSP can notice early warning signs and prevent them in advance. Your MSP can even make recommendations to proactively optimize your network and put defenses in place to protect you from costly security breaches.

Access New Technology as it Becomes Available

Technology is a substantial yet necessary cost in IT. Using out-of-date systems and technologies can mean poor performance, security issues, and an abundance of calls from unhappy end users. That’s why MSPs offer plans that provide all the technology your business needs, from servers to software.

Not only will your MSP let you know when it’s time to upgrade and which investments are worth making, but they’ll also provide the necessary technology and help you with the installation process. Instead of shelling out large amounts of cash upfront every time you need to upgrade, you’ll just need to pay your MSP’s fees in addition to a lease fee in most cases. For example, with HPE GreenLake’s consumption model, you can install the services you need and will only need to start paying once everything is up and running. However, instead of paying for it all at once as you might when buying equipment traditionally, you’ll only pay the (much smaller) amount in your embedded lease with GreenLake for Aruba at a time. This lease also includes built-in refresh cycles, making upgrading and expanding your network simple. Essentially, you’ll be shifting from CapEx to OpEx in terms of upgrades, so you’ll easily be able to keep up with today’s — and tomorrow’s — innovations without breaking the bank.

Eliminate Stress About Compliance And Auditing

Having a healthy network with top-notch data security is essential no matter your industry, but making sure you’re meeting ever-changing standards and regulations and are ready for an audit at any moment isn’t always easy. Enter managed services!

With managed services, your MSP will know which standards and regulations apply to your company and can help you meet them, so you can avoid the fines and reputational damage that comes with violating them. Whether your organization must comply with PCI DSS, ISO, HIPAA, or other, less common standards, managed services can keep your data secure and meet compliance requirements. MSPs can even conduct audits and run reports, giving you peace of mind whenever you want it.

Relax Knowing your IT is in Good Hands

Managing networks, systems, and equipment isn’t easy, but you can pass the responsibility onto a reliable partner with managed services. Your MSP will keep everything you need up and running — and ensure it stays that way with minimal downtime — so you can rest easy knowing your organization is taken care of.

MSPs employ teams of IT experts with specialties in every area you can think of who can ensure you get the most out of your technology. You can trust your MSP with everything from infrastructure support services to cybersecurity management, so you can concentrate on accomplishing your business goals instead of on help desk tickets. Plus, most MSPs offer 24/7 support, meaning they can catch and fix issues in real time without waiting for the workday to begin.

Who Can Benefit From Managed Services?

Any business can benefit from managed services, but they’re particularly invaluable to small businesses with limited resources or who don’t want to manage their own network, equipment, and systems. With managed services, that responsibility is passed on to the MSP. Not sure whether managed services are right for you? If you:

  • Can’t afford to hire, train, and maintain an entire in-house IT team
  • Have knowledge or skills gaps in your current in-house team
  • Are too busy with everyday issues to focus on more essential things like business development
  • Are planning on moving data to the cloud
  • Like the sound of OpEx more than CapEx
  • Handle sensitive data
  • Don’t have a disaster contingency plan for your data
  • Have an in-house IT team that can’t keep up with your current and future IT needs
  • Want to avoid the hassle of monitoring your systems and networks yourself
  • Struggle to keep up with the pace of new technology

Then managed services will likely be a great fit for your organization.

A Closer Look at Managed Services in Specific Industries

Any company in any industry can benefit from managed services, but taking a closer look at a few specific industries can make it easier to understand what managed services look like on the ground. Let’s dive into managed services in a few common industries: 

Manufacturing

Manufacturers must design perfect products and navigate seemingly unending supply chain delays. The last thing they need is the additional responsibility of handling their IT. With managed services, they don’t need to worry about that. Instead, they can pass their IT needs on to their trusted MSP, increasing productivity, efficiency, and profits.

With managed services in place, manufacturers will experience less downtime, which is especially beneficial in a field where downtime can cost thousands of dollars a minute. MSPs employ trained professionals who can troubleshoot problems and spot and stop issues in their tracks. With an MSP, manufacturers will also be able to access the latest technology to get and stay ahead of the competition. Even as smart cameras, wearables, robotics, and sensors enter warehouses, manufacturers can rest easy knowing their MSP can help their network quickly adapt.

The Public Sector

IT demands are high in the government, so it’s hardly surprising that agencies are increasingly turning to managed services for support. Not only are MSPs more cost-efficient than in-house IT teams, but they also have experience with the latest cloud, data, and storage solutions and offer increased operational agility, stronger networks, and expert optimization suggestions compared to the alternative.

Managed services are particularly beneficial in the public sector, where both physical and cyber threats are commonplace. Securing facilities both physically and digitally is essential to keep people and critical information secure. Luckily, MSPs have the skills to do that. MSPs can install and monitor high-definition smart camera systems, visual analytics software, and duress alarms to provide round-the-clock protection. They can also install everything from robust firewalls to hyperconverged backup systems, and more to keep organizations safe from cybercrime.

Healthcare

In healthcare, functioning technology is literally a matter of life and death. Interrupted services can mean interrupted care with potentially devastating effects, so high-performing healthcare IT teams are essential. Plus, even one mistake could mean violating HIPAA and facing hefty fines. When IT teams are overworked and constantly scrambling to resolve minor issues, they run the risk of missing an error that could prove devastating. That’s where managed services shine.

An MSP can handle data center management, network maintenance, and more, freeing up IT teams to focus on bigger picture projects or even just freeing up some of the budget if IT staffing needs go down. MSPs can also provide cybersecurity services, preventing breaches that could put patients’ data at risk or put healthcare centers on the hook for major ransoms. In short, managed services mean that, instead of wrestling with poor network infrastructure, hospital teams can always access their high-performing network, enjoy excellent connectivity, and never miss a patient update.

Education

Whether in K-12 or higher education institutions, managed services present exciting opportunities to increase connectivity while saving money and boosting cybersecurity. 

For K-12 school districts, MSPs can provide full-stack IT and network support, making it easy to deliver lessons remotely or use the latest tech solutions in classrooms. Plus, MSPs can help schools expand and update their network, meaning students and teachers can continue to benefit from the newest technology as it emerges down the line. 

With all the recent pandemic-related budget cuts, gaps in IT staff teams, and the rise of remote classes, managed services are also becoming more attractive than ever to higher education institutions. Instead of dedicating in-house staff to troubleshooting issues (and paying them top dollar), institutions can take advantage of 24/7 help desk support and receive expert advice to make the most of their existing technology and reduce downtime for students whose education often depends on a strong internet connection.

Financial Services

Finance is a highly regulated industry with sensitive information, so compliance and security are of the utmost importance. Adopting managed services exposes financial services organizations to less risk and makes meeting compliance requirements easier. After all, MSPs employ people who are experts at this!

Moreover, using managed services can cut costs and enable finance organizations to use scalable, innovative technology. As a result, their business will have smoother operations, be better protected, and be ready to adapt to whatever the future may hold — all while getting more time back to focus on value-adding activities and following a predictable pricing model.

The Steps to Adopting Managed Services

Adopting managed services is a gradual process, but it is more than worthwhile once complete. The process begins with choosing the right provider. You want an MSP who is flexible enough to meet your needs, has plenty of experience in your industry, is familiar with regulatory requirements, is 100% committed to your growth, and offers top-notch customer service. Turn-key Technologies, Inc. (TTI) does all that and more, making it the perfect managed services partner.

From there, you need to work together to determine the best way to start the managed services adoption process. Remember: it won’t happen overnight. Often, it’s good to try managed services on a smaller scale before expanding — especially if you’re nervous about offloading your IT needs to an outside organization. That way you can see what’s working, make adjustments as needed, and determine your top priorities to ensure the MSP is meeting all your requirements.

An example of this gradual process comes from a higher education institution that recently adopted managed services. The school was nervous about making the transition all at once, so they decided to first switch their dorms to a managed services model to see if they were comfortable with the approach. Things went so well that they’re now entering phase two, bringing managed services to their entire campus, including classrooms as well as the dorms, with the confidence they first sought with the more gradual transition.

Of course, that’s not the only gradual adoption model that organizations can follow. Instead of adopting managed services one area at a time, you can also try bringing in managed services one type at a time. For example, you might adopt cybersecurity as a service in your first year. Then, once the benefits are fully realized, you might move on to wireless in the second year, and infrastructure in the third. Then, storage, cameras, critical communications, and hyperconverged infrastructure might follow. 

Whatever approach you take to adopting managed services, it’s important that you realize it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. MSPs will work with you to develop a plan that suits your needs and your comfort level at every stage.

Take The Pressure Off Your Shoulders with Managed Services from TTI

IT teams have a lot on their plates — a situation that’s only gotten worse with the ongoing IT skills shortage, the rise in upfront equipment costs, and the implementation of strict compliance requirements. Often, it can seem impossible to keep up. That’s where managed services come in.

With managed services, you can say goodbye to stretching your IT team too thin. Your MSP will take on IT responsibilities for you, allowing your team to concentrate on critical business tasks and even giving you the opportunity to reduce the size of the IT team altogether. Not all MSPs are equal, though. Since managed services are only as good as your MSP, it’s important that you find the right partner to get the most out of your IT systems, networks, and infrastructures.

With over 30 years of experience, Turn-key Technologies, Inc. (TTI) is the perfect managed services provider for organizations of all sizes across industries. With TTI, you’ll have technology experts at your disposal, but you won’t have to pay the high prices that come with having those experts on your internal team. TTI has all the skills you could possibly want in an MSP and our experts can build, install, and manage a customized network that will help your organization become more efficient, prepare you for the latest technological advancements, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about how TTI’s managed services can help your organization thrive!

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