Managed IT

What is a Managed Service?

Written by Victoria Wilson

As a SMB decision-maker or owner, you may have heard plenty about 'managed IT services', but what are they really?

A third-party provider takes responsibility for some of your daily IT tasks, but what does that include? And how much can you really entrust to them?

Here are a few key questions you may be wondering about: 

  • What really is a 'managed service'?
  • What do managed service providers (MSPs) really do for you?
  • How does a MSP add value to your business?
  • How do I choose the right MSP to partner with?

What is a managed service?

Managed services aren't rigidly defined, which can lead to some confusion as you comparison shop and decide what your business requires.

Here are the basics:

  • Managed services take care of the maintenance of your IT network for a set monthly fee.
  • Managed services allow you to pick & choose which business functions remain in-house and which ones you 'outsource'. That means you can add in extra layers of security or continuous support while retaining on-site control of other things like private databases.
  • A MSP can help you with configuration and monitoring your IT network to alert you if anything abnormal occurs.
  • Managed services usually include applying updates, security patches and fixes to your systems automatically, to reduce the burden on your staff.
  • A MSP provides timely IT support, typically through a ticketing system.
Are managed IT services just another pull on your resources without measurable benefits? Do they actually add value to your business?

Managed IT Services are a core pillar of our operations at SysGroup. This includes specialties like Managed Cloud, Managed Infrastructure, Managed IT Support and expertise in leading platforms like Office 365, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

Choosing managed IT services can lead to significant benefits for your SMB, including:

  • Prevent unplanned downtime

MSPs promise access and continuous availability through industry-leading SLAs. You don't need to fear downtime any longer with services like backup and disaster recovery plus the option to mirror your entire IT infrastructure to a secondary site for quick recovery should any disruptions occur.

  • Reduce stress and daily time spent on maintenance

Simple, yet time-consuming things like security updates and network monitoring can take all of your energy. Entrust these processes to a managed services provider and then devote your time to other priorities like testing, development and staff training.

  • Predictable monthly cost

MSPs offer a wealth of expertise at costs to fit any budget. They also allow you to scale your environment in or out whenever you need to, or even change directions entirely without significant financial losses from single-use hardware. Predictable monthly costs give you peace of mind.

  • Benefit from outside expertise

The more niche your industry is, the less likely you are to be on the cutting edge of new cloud computing technologies. Your time is stretched between different priorities and you may feel doubtful that your network is efficient, innovative and secure from outside threats.

For a much lower cost, managed IT services connect you to experts in PCI DSS, disaster recovery, cyber-security and more. You gain the best bits of their knowledge without having to study it in-depth yourself.

How can I choose the right MSP?
  • Clear communication

You're entrusting some critical business functions to a third-party provider. Check their credentials and technology partnerships. Do they use leading hardware and software? What level of expertise have they reached with those partnerships? Can you talk to a real person on the phone whenever you need? Do they take a consultative approach to each conversation, listening to your goals and needs?

  • Industry-leading SLAs

Does their standard contract include 24/7/365 monitoring and support? Do you feel confident with the level of service they'll provide as standard?

  • Experience in your sector

Can they demonstrate experience working with businesses of your size in your sector? Do they understand the unique challenges you face in compliance or budgetary restrictions? What do their current customers have to say about their experience?

  • Look for a laser-focus on security

Do they take cyber-security seriously? Where are their data centres, and what are their features? Does the MSP have security credentials you can trust? Have they achieved IS and PCI-DSS qualifications? Is secure data backup part of the deal?

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