Understanding the managed services movement

Understanding the managed services movement

We would like to clarify a point. All this time our blog posts have been discussing the benefits of partnering with managed services providers (MSPs), like us, without actually helping you understand what they are and its history. Simply put, an MSP is a company that installs, manages, and maintains a client’s IT systems.

Not to be confused with your run-of-the-mill IT support technician who charges by the hour, managed services typically operate on a flat monthly subscription fee. Although it may seem like you’re paying more for the same IT service, MSPs and traditional IT support consultants are worlds apart. The best way to understand this is with a brief look at the history of managed services.

Break-fix models of the past

In the beginning, companies with IT problems turned to “break-fix technicians” to fix things. Unfortunately, break-fix tech support companies lacked the tools, and frankly, the expertise to deal with the problem. This wasn’t such a huge issue before, mainly because networked technologies weren’t as popular with businesses as they are now.

But today is a different story. Technology now plays a vital role in day-to-day operations. And as businesses have grown more dependent on them, a single IT failure can have devastating consequences.

Think about it, what happens if your server crashes? Your first instinct would likely be to call an IT support line to help you troubleshoot the crisis. If that doesn’t work -- and it rarely ever does -- you would hire an onsite break-fix technician to solve the problem. While you’re waiting for the technician to pull through, however, your business suffers. Salespeople can’t access customer records, HR staff can’t process documents, and business owners have no way of keeping tabs on their company’s financial status.

Even if your break-fix technician was successful, he or she saw and fixed only what was happening on that particular day.

Fixing problems, but not the process

The fundamental flaw with the break-fix model is that the only way for a technician to thrive is if something went wrong. This breeds the toxic mentality that if they do their job too well, they’ll be out of business. Traditional models are therefore geared toward nickel and diming you by resolving problems with quick fixes rather than tackling the root of the problem. As a result, panicked customers keep calling, and break-fix companies have more work and money to line their pockets.

Temporary IT support staff are also in a terrible position to recommend new technologies. IT technicians who say they know what’s right for your business without auditing your systems or being intimately familiar with your company’s core competencies and pain points are not being honest. It takes thorough analysis to identify and meet tech requirements -- not guesswork. And if you’re confiding in temporary tech support, you’re ultimately making an ill-informed business decision.

Because traditional IT support models carried too much risk, uncertainty, and cost, small- to mid-sized organizations sought better alternatives.

The managed services revolution

In the early ‘90s, Fortune 500 companies stumbled into an industry that would later reshape the face of modern IT support. Unlike traditional break-fix companies, MSPs employ remote monitoring management software to keep a close eye on their clients’ IT systems and externally resolve issues with servers and endpoints at all times. This solution, however, was available only to larger corporations at the time.

Fast-forward to 2005, just about the same time that cloud and other networking technologies were getting popular. Small- to mid-sized companies realized they could receive the same level of personalized support and maintenance services that large corporations enjoyed. Technological capabilities only got better, and thanks to high-speed internet and remote monitoring tools, managed services are a more cost-effective solution than hiring a break-fix technician.

Cost and proactive problem resolution, however, isn’t the only selling point of partnering up with an MSP. When you pay the monthly subscription fee, MSPs are bound by service level agreements (SLAs), meaning they work tirelessly to keep your infrastructure running at peak performance, update your systems religiously, and minimize productivity-killing downtime.

Time for an upgrade

As a business owner, managing new software, endpoints, or servers will always be a challenge. Sure, you can rely on break-fix technicians when any of these systems fail. But there’s absolutely no point in putting yourself under such a painful, bank-breaking process. And if you’re still standing on the wrong side of history, maybe it’s time to consider an upgrade. No industry is more equipped to help you overcome these challenges than MSPs.

Looking for an MSP to call your own? Here at WhiteOwl we believe that, like your business, IT systems need to run like a well-oiled machine. So get in touch with us today. We can assure you that your network bottlenecks, service disruptions, and cyber security problems will become a thing of the past.

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