Maybe things were simpler in the old days. If a company needed their computers worked on, they just found a company that was certified by the vendors of their equipment. It was a transactional arrangement: Hire the company to do the work, based upon their certifications. If they did a good job, call them the next time. If not, find another company with similar certifications.
Things have changed a great deal. The new technology support paradigm is to have a mutually beneficial relationship with a Managed Services Provider (MSP for short). What’s the difference?
It’s a very fundamental difference and it makes a huge difference in the value being delivered. The transaction-based “breakfix” paradigm has the client and provider working at cross purposes: The provider needs the client to have problems in order to have work to do. All the risk for the network’s health and performance is on the client’s side. In Managed Services, the MSP assumes some of the risk by charging a fee to keep the network running smoothly, and is motivated to avoid having to fix things.
So how does a company choose their MSP? The vendor certifications alone don’t tell enough – effective network management has a lot to do with process and procedures. How can this be verified? Here are some things to check for when evaluating an MSP.
Modern tools may enable a very small organization to become a Managed Services Provider. Many things that used to require site visits can now be done by remote means. Actuarially speaking, though, at any given time, some percentage of an MSP’s client base is going to require some “hands on” service. Make sure the MSP you choose has enough people to effectively service their client base. What’s the size of their field force? Helpdesk team?
Managing multiple networks takes a very organized operation, with state-of-the-art procedures and tools. There should be a definable, and repeatable process for receiving service requests (whether generated by clients or monitoring tools), evaluating them, prioritizing them and assigning resources to resolve each one. Any good MSP should be able to describe this process clearly and concisely and provide metrics as to how they meet their service level goals.
Managed Services may be the “new” paradigm, but it’s really been around for a number of years. An MSP that’s only now getting into the game is unlikely to be as effective as one that’s been through the growth pains and has deep experience with the procedures and tools that constitute the best practices in this field. Similarly, ask about the MSPs staff – do they have enough experience to be considered experts in Managed Services, too?
If a company decides to rely on an MSP to manage all or part of their Information Technology infrastructure, it doesn’t mean they should be “out of the loop”. The MSP/Client relationship is a partnership, and that means information about the health of the IT infrastructure needs to flow back to the client company on a regular basis, in the form of monthly reports and regular meetings. Similarly, to get the maximum value out of the relationship, the client company should seek to get the MSP involved in strategic planning, to ensure the network will continue to meet the company’s needs as it grows.
All of this takes a lot more effort than picking a technology repair service out of the Yellow Pages. But technology is such an important part of business – it really makes sense to find an MSP that can partner with your company to take on the responsibility of keeping that technology up-to-date and working at optimum levels.
Clare Computer Solutions has been in business since 1990, and been providing Managed Services since 2003. Their employees average 8.8 years with the company, and over 20 in the industry. Learn more at www.clarecomputer.com/ccs-news-CCS-employee-retention
The post How to Choose the Right Managed IT Services Provider appeared first on IT Consulting & Planning Blog | San Ramon, All East Bay.
We hear a lot of about Cloud Computing these days, and that technology looks to be a big part of the future of technology. Not that it’s a good fit for every company, or that it’s delivered on all the anticipated benefits, but increasingly, the cloud is a viable solution for a variety of applications.
How a business GETS to its data and applications on the cloud is not as a hot a topic, but it is a vital part of the equation. What’s in the cloud is of no use if a company can’t access it.
With cloud computing, a company’s demands on the internet connection is very different. Two very important factors to consider are bandwidth and redundancy.
Barely a decade ago, a T1 line (1.544 Mbps) cost over $1000 per month. But the extensive buildout of fiber connections in metro areas has brought those costs down considerably. Even home internet connections get multi-megabit connections for about $100/month.
When planning a foray into cloud computing, some careful consideration needs to go into determining the bandwidth required to deliver an optimal user experience. Not so long ago, a company’s internet bandwidth was used primarily for email and web browsing. When even a small office is using their internet connection for applications, email, phones (VoIP) and web browsing, it’s a whole different story.
Therefore, the costs of the necessary bandwidth will need to be factored into the business’ cloud strategy.
No matter how much bandwidth your internet connection has, if it’s down, you have NO bandwidth. Some internet connections are more reliable than others, but even a 99.999% (Five 9s!) uptime means 8.76 hours of downtime in a year. Can your business be prepared to have NO access to your cloud-based resources for a full workday?
If a business is going to go to a cloud-dependent model, then it would be wise to have an alternate route to the cloud. This could be 100% redundancy – an equivalent circuit from another provider (ideally, coming into the building via a different cable vault), or it can be a circuit designed to be just adequate to keep the business running until the main circuit is restored.
Don’t forget to factor in the costs for the extra circuit, and don’t forget to test the failover mechanism!
Depending on where in the cloud your computing assets are, you may not need to go through the Internet at all. Your bandwidth may be more reliable if the data and voice traffic go over a dedicated circuit. The prices on these have dropped considerably, too, so it bears looking into.
The bottom line is, the cloud holds a lot of promise, but before implementing any new technology, all the pros and cons and costs must be weighed to ensure the results will be favorable for the business. Clare Computer Solutions can provide a Cloud Readiness Assessment for your business and help you consider all the options when planning a cloud strategy.
The post Fast and Reliable Internet Access Vital for Cloud Services appeared first on IT Consulting & Planning Blog | San Ramon, All East Bay.
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