It's a bit of an understatement to say there are a lot of acronyms and terms when it comes to technology. Terms like WPA, LAN, WAN, MPS, MSP, SaaS, IaaS, Cloud, VPN, and Virtualization make up only a small sample of today's IT vocabulary. While many of these acronyms and terms are mainly used by IT professionals in the know, others are becoming more commonly used by C-suite executives, business owners, operations managers, and others who need to make informed decisions on how to make the most of their IT budgets.
Managed IT Services
Managed Services is the practice of outsourcing day-to-day management responsibilities as a strategic method for improving. This can include outsourcing HR-activities, Production Support and life cycle build/maintenance activities. Managed Services are offered by other companies referred as MSP’s or Managed Service Providers (MSP).
A managed services provider is typically an information technology (IT) services provider that manages and assumes responsibility for providing a defined set of services to their clients either proactively or as they (not the client) determine that the services are needed. Most MSPs bill an upfront setup or Transition fee and an ongoing flat or near-fixed monthly fee, which benefits their clients by providing them with predictable IT support costs.
Managed Service Providers sometimes are contracted to manage multiple staffing vendors and to measure their effectiveness in filling positions according to a customer's standards and requirements. In effect, the MSP serves as a "neutral" party that offers the customer a complete workforce solution while ensuring efficient operation and leveraging multiple staffing companies to obtain competitive rates. MSPs typically use a Vendor Management System (VMS) as a software tool to provide transparency and efficiency — along with detailed metrics to the user — related to every aspect of the contingent and contract workforce.
Why are Managed Services Relevant to Small Businesses?
Just like larger companies, small businesses need technology to operate efficiently and to compete effectively. But as reliance on IT grows, the resources to support an increasingly complex IT environment may not. In many small businesses, IT resources are scarce, and can be quickly overwhelmed with the day-to-day responsibilities of keeping the IT infrastructure that the business depends on up and running.
If you fall behind in keeping up with things such as backups, patches and security, the odds are that you’ll face an IT outage or another problem down the road that will negatively impact your business. For instance, if your e-mail server, customer relationship management system, financial application or network goes down unexpectedly, you face substantial productivity and revenue losses as a result.
MSPs act as an extension of your IT department, taking care of routine IT infrastructure monitoring and management around the clock—freeing up your IT staff to focus on higher-value projects. By proactively monitoring and maintaining your systems, an MSP can help you avoid many technology problems in the first place. Should an issue occur; an experienced MSP can troubleshoot and resolve it more efficiently.
Unlike traditional outsourcing situations, where you surrender complete control of your IT assets, you decide what you want the service provider to take care of, and what you want to handle. You retain full visibility into the process and management of your systems. In addition, the MSP subscription model gives you more expense predictability than a consultant-type time and billing model.
Discovernet has been a trusted Managed Service Provider in the Greater Toronto Area for over 15 years. If you're interested in discussing how we could manage your organization's IT needs, we'd love to hear from you!
Cloud Computing is constantly evolving. It began life as "Grid Computing" - a technology able to solve large problems with parallel computing and resources from multiple administrative domains. Subsequently, grid computing matured to offer computing resources as a metered service, known as "utility computing". Eventually, the aforementioned model once again evolved via network-based subscriptions and applications into what is now known as Cloud Computing.
Essential Characteristics of Cloud Computing:
- On-Demand Self-Service: A user can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time, network storage and applications, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service’s provider.
- Broad Network Access: Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard means over several platforms like mobile phones, laptops, and PDAs.
- Resource Pooling: The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to your demand.
- Rapid Elasticity: Capabilities can be rapidly provisioned, in some cases automatically, to quickly scale out and rapidly released to quickly scale in. To you, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be purchased in any quantity at any time.
- Measured Service: Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by using a metering system. Examples of resources that can be are storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts. Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.
Why Should Your Business Care About Cloud Computing?
Most small businesses simply don't have the time, expertise or money necessary to buy, deploy and manage the computing infrastructure needed to run these solutions on their own. Cloud computing shields you from these complexities. As a user, you see only the self-service interface to the computing resources you need. And, you can expand or shrink services as your needs change.
Instead of laying out capital to buy hardware and software, you rent what you need, usually either on a subscription basis, or on a utility pay-as-you go model.
To briefly summarize:
Managed Services look after your non-cloud equipment and software, so you can focus on your business, not the daily operations of technology.
Cloud Computing is a collection of hardware and software that you can use without all the capital expenditures you would traditionally have to cover.
In the end, you need a trusted partner to help you decided if any of these services are right for you. If you would like more information or have questions, please let us know. As always, we are here to help you.