What is a Managed Services Provider (MSP)?

Definition of Managed Services

Managed Services is the proactive management of an IT (Information Technology) asset or object, by a third party typically known as a MSP, on behalf of a customer. The operative distinction that sets apart a MSP is the proactive delivery of their service, as compared to reactive IT services, which have been around for decades.

Managed Services Characteristics

Typically, MSPs will have the following distinguishing characteristics:

  • Have some form of Network Operation Center (NOC)  service
  • Have some form of service or Help Desk service
  • Be able to remotely monitor and manage all or a majority of the objects for the customer
  • Proactively, compared to reactive, maintain the objects under management for the customer
  • Delivery these solutions with some form of predictable billing model, where the customer knows with great accuracy what their regular IT management expense will be

Managed Services Specialties

While the term MSP may be somewhat generic these days, there are many types of MSPs who deliver specific services or manage specific types of customers. Some of the more common types of solutions include security, storage, desktop, server, hosting, applications, and mobile device management.

Managed Services Vertical Markets

Just like there are many types of service offerings, there are many types of vertical markets MSPs service. For example, banking, financial services, health care, and legal, are just a few of the vertical markets that have shown high demand for managed services for the last two decades.

Why would I want to partner with CenCal TEK?

Partnering with CenCal TEK is like having your own Virtual IT department with the expertise to implement technologies to increase your business productivity and cut costs.  All your IT burdens are shifted off your business so you can focus on what’s important.

Are Managed Services Expensive?

The entire goal of going to Managed Services is to save you money. This is accomplished through uncovering incremental down time and reducing this and tradition down time using a variety of services and managing your network proactively.  Each Managed Services Plan is customized to fit your business needs; it is not a one size fits all.  That is the long answer… The short answer is it can cost as little as $99 per month.  It all depends and the size and complexity of your business needs.  Contact CenCal Tek for a customized quote today!

What is the Cloud Anyways?

“Cloud” is a buzzword that vaguely suggests the promise and convenience of being able to access files from anywhere. But the reality is that the cloud is hardly floating like mist above our heads — it’s a physical infrastructure, its many computers housed in massive warehouses all over the world.

The main focus of today’s Cloud providers is reliability and security!

Does my Business need a Website?

Only you can determine if your company needs a web site. While making the determination, you want to consider that a web site is multi-functional, and is a communication tool — not an advertisement. If your business is organized, all of your clientele is local, and you have a back-log of customers waiting to be serviced —and you can handle that service effectively — you may not need a website.

If you often wish you could communicate effectively with a broader range of clients / customers, publicly post answers to frequently asked questions, attract new customers, break in to new markets and take the market share from your competitors — then a website is a MUST!

A web site is like your giant public bulletin board where people can get information on how to find you, where you are located, what you have to offer, why your service is unique, and what’s new in your company. It also is easily updated and changed frequently, and is a communication forum through which your customers can communicate back to you with questions, concerns and feedback on their needs.

What does a SMB look for in a Managed Service Provider?

When checking into a potential partnership with a technology provider such as a Managed Services Provider you should assess these qualities:

  • IT Planning and Strategy
  • Comprehensive IT delivery
  • Service Delivery Levels
  • Reduced Risk and increased continuity
  • Cost reductions
  • Disaster & Recovery planning and readiness

What are the benefits realized by the SMB who outsources to an MSP?

  • Better use of IT department, focusing on emerging technology and planning.
  • Reduce Expenses-system Administration, costly downtime for upgrades and patching takes resources and money, which could be saved and applied to future plans.
  • Increased reliability and performance.
  • Competitive Edge- focusing on business needs and not wasting resources allows for a better position to the competitor that is still saddled in the upgrade, help desk, patch nightmare.
  • Immediate access to the best technology and resources. MSP data centers have the newest and most efficient technologies, allowing customers to scale and grow easily into new and emerging technologies without having to purchase additional and costly products.
  • Ability to use the MSP for Disaster Recovery as well as traditional outsource IT.
  • Reduce costly training and certifications. The MSP has already invested heavily in these certifications. The savings to the SMB could be significant.

What is Help Desk?

The Help Desk (sometimes called a service desk) is oftentimes confused or mistaken for a Network Operation Center (NOC). Although these two components sometimes are located in the same physical space, the help desk and NOC actually serve different functions in a service provider organization. If the NOC is the centralized area where the MSP monitors and manages objects on behalf of the customer, the help desk is also a centralized area where the MSP interacts with end-users to help them resolve issues.

Help desks can work in a variety of ways but typically MSP help desks will utilize email, remote Chat and telephone mechanisms to interact with end-users. While larger MSPs may physically separate the help desk and NOC, smaller MSPs tend to have these two groups located within the same room.

Efficiency is a key element of a well-run help desk, since MSPs need to deliver high quality service while at the same time maintaining efficiency in order to keep costs under control.

What is NOC?

The NOC, or Network Operation Center, is usually a physical location where a MSP delivers their managed services. The NOC is the heart or nerve center of the MSP operation. Originally used by telecommunications companies, the NOC was used as a centralized place where service technicians could safely and securely work, without having to worry about disruptions of power, Internet connectivity, or other disruptive occurrences, whether caused by natural or unnatural events.

In the early days of managed services, MSPs would build a NOC because it was a necessary component of their business model. This central monitoring location was often a key selling point for MSPs. Customers who outsource their IT management want to feel safe that their IT assets are being accessed by qualified people who are themselves located in a safe and secure location. This is why the NOC exists and is so important to the business model of a MSP.

In recent years, the term Virtual NOC as come into common usage when describing a MSP that either uses another MSP’s NOC, or themselves do not have a physical location where the NOC technicians work. Instead, the technicians work remotely and collaborate in a virtualized environment. Ultimately, there are several forms a NOC can take, each one aimed at servicing a type of customer need.

What is Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM)

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Remote Monitoring & Management platforms (RMM) allow managed service providers to perform necessary and important IT management tasks even though the objects under management may not be physically in the presence of the MSP. Because many MSPs employ a “one-to-many” business model, physically going to each device in order to work on (or observe) it becomes problematic, not to mention expensive and challenging to scale.

RMM technologies enable the MSP to remotely perform IT management tasks from a computer screen and an Internet connection. In many scenarios, the RMM technology is located within the NOC, where the MSP also handles help desk related issues for their customers.

The RMM technology often works in conjunction with other MSP enabling technologies. Whether it is a help desk or trouble ticketing solution, a CRM, a security console.  In some cases, RMM technologies can also work in conjunction with other tools to allow “out of band” access to objects, meaning that the same remote access can exist even if the object may be offline or non-functional.

RMM tools used to be very costly during the 1990s but became much more simple to use and less expensive, thereby allowing many IT service companies to enter the managed services profession. RMM tools enabled MSPs to stop sending technicians on site to customers and instead made it possible for MSPs to observe and work on many remote devices all at the same time.

Why is the sky blue?

A clear cloudless day-time sky is blue because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light. When we look towards the sun at sunset, we see red and orange colours because the blue light has been scattered out and away from the line of sight.

How your Managed Service Provider (MSP) should be saving you money?

The cost of running a small business in the Central Coast can be quite high.  We are always looking for ways to cut cost of running our business, and a good place to start looking is with managed services.

MSPs can talk a big game, but the reality is that, if they can’t save you money, they’re not worth their salt. And while some companies will tell you that it’s a case-by-case situation and it’s impossible to predict how exactly managed services will save your business money, they should be able to give you an idea of how they’re going to try. If they can’t do that, run the other way, and find yourself an MSP who can.

But how do you know if they’re pitching ideas that will work? Here at CenCal Tek, we believe that an informed client is the best client; we don’t like to keep our customers in the dark. So here are four ways that your MSP should be looking to save you money:

 

  1. Increased Uptime.

This could also be read, of course, as decreased downtime. When you look at the various causes for downtime — viruses, load capacity, employees surfing the web or FaceBooking, etc. — you can see clearly where MSPs should be inserting themselves. After all, it’s supposed to be a part of their services: antivirus protection and patching, load testing, and more. But if your MSP can’t point to these services as money-savers and give a clear strategy as to how they will be carried out, move along.

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  1. Improved Security.

Security can play into uptime, but it’s far more than that. Investing in security is a hard ROI to measure, because you can’t predict the value of a security breach until it happens. But you can look at what cleanup costs statistically. For companies of all sizes, $5.5 million was spent in 2011 cleaning up after data breaches. That number is much higher today!  Your MSP should be able to point to your industry and business size to give you an amount that you could avoid spending by stepping up your security game through managed services.

 

  1. More Productivity.

Measuring the cost advantage of productivity for your business is not a new concept. More difficult, however, is attaching that number to managed services. Your provider should be able to illustrate just how much time its tools and services will save you and translate that time into money.

 

  1. Better Investments.

Your company’s technology investments are important for your business, and your MSP should be serving as an advisor to deciding which technologies to invest in. A decision that big could be a horrible mistake, or it could take your business to the next level. Your MSP can give insights into industry trends and technology advancements and provide counsel as to the financial and technological ramifications of adopting them.

 

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At the end of the day, most business decisions boil down to cost efficiency. And managed services is a cost efficient choice, but only if you go with the right provider. If your provider can’t articulate the clear cost benefits outlined above, then it’s time to demand numbers or look elsewhere.

Here at CenCal TEK, we’re happy to detail the cost advantages of our managed services program. We believe that saving your company money is an important part of helping you achieve your business goals, and we are committed to making those savings a reality. For more information about CenCal TEK managed services solutions and other IT services, give us a call at (805) 270-3266.

Many people have a variety of questions when it comes to their IT needs. We at DB Computer Services have compiled a list of frequently Asked Questions and help answer those burning questions. If you have a question not answered on our website, please feel free to submit a question here and we would be happy to answer it.

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