Blog Series: IT Perspectives by Jaqui Lynch

In my earlier blog on managed services and outsourcing, “To Manage or Not to Manage – That is the Question,” I talked about the various options available in a managed services environment and mentioned that it was possible to outsource components of day-to-day operations such as the management and monitoring of systems and networks. As companies strive to be agile and focus more on developing business opportunities, it has become very attractive to have a managed service provider (MSP) take care of the more mundane, time consuming tasks. The intent is to outsource the daily management, maintenance and monitoring processes as a way to improve operations, reduce and mitigate risk, and cut costs, while utilizing internal staff on key projects.

24×7 management of resources involves things such as endpoints. Endpoints can be servers, networks, security devices or any other device the company needs to have managed and monitored. Management typically includes maintenance such as proactive patching, but it can also include security log and vulnerability analysis along with monitoring for incidents and potentially remediation efforts. From a network perspective, it may also include reviewing network endpoints to ensure compliance with respect to firmware and passwords as well as monitoring the network for breaches or outages. Outsourcing management of resources provides better visibility into the systems, network and associated security endpoints.

There are two key components involved in outsourcing management of key resources. The first is monitoring. Monitoring should provide visibility across the client’s servers, clouds, metrics and applications and can also include visibility into the network and any other endpoints. Once monitoring is in place, then it is possible to add on alerting and notifications in real time. This means that a designated person or a group of people is notified when certain thresholds are reached – these could be performance, security or other related thresholds. Similarly, outages of any kind would undergo a similar notification process.

Examples of management and monitoring services include:

  • Network Collaboration Appliances
    • Management of IP communications, conferencing, messaging, video and mobility environments.
  • Desktop Support Services
    • Managing desktop lifecycles and uptime
  • Server/Network and Application Monitoring
    • This includes 24x7x365 environment monitoring as well as scheduled maintenance
  • Patching Services
    • Ensure systems patching takes place in a timely manner without taking internal staff away from key projects.
  • Incident Based Phone Support
  • Managed Security Services
    • Log and IDS monitoring and even traffic inspection to better protect IT resources. It may also include penetration testing and security remediation as well.
  • Onsite Staff Augmentation
    • Provision of temporary IT talent as needed

A key challenge we all face is that the people responsible for the systems, network and security are typically trying to work on multiple other things at the same time. By moving day-to-day management and monitoring to a service provider you gain two advantages:

  1. Internal staff are freed up to work on projects to move the business forward
  2. The service provider is dedicated to staying current on the area they are monitoring which leads to problems being found more quickly and resolved rapidly

The obvious benefits here are that problems get discovered sooner and are often fixed before they impact the business which leads to reduced downtime and better compliance. The same applies with performance if this is one of the key indicators being monitored. Having someone dedicated to watching the systems and adding on automated notifications can mean that uptime is significantly improved due to proactive actions that can be taken.

Most clients start with patching, security or network management and then rapidly end up adding other areas as they see the advantages of a managed environment. The first step is to figure out where your most critical delays are occurring and to then work on a plan to solve those problems either by using managed services for those areas or by using managed services elsewhere to free up the resources you need working in those areas.

As a long time administrator who spent a great deal of time bogged down in daily maintenance tasks, I find the whole managed services area to be very valuable. Once you get out from under all the day-to-day stuff you can then take your understanding of the systems and the business and work on architecting real solutions to improve the business and potentially add new and competitive products. This improves morale as well as the company’s bottom line. This makes it well worth exploring where managed services can be of benefit to your company. There are many companies out there that offer outsourcing or managed services. The key to success is asking the right questions and ensuring the contracts have rock solid SLAs (service level agreements) built in. It is important to understand what they do and don’t cover and what reports you should expect to see.

Outsourcing the management and monitoring of your systems can be incredibly beneficial if properly planned. Working with your provider and taking incremental steps to get to the final environment ensures the success for everyone and can provide great benefits to the company.

Schedule a consultation today to learn more about managed services offered by Flagship.

If you liked this blog, you might also like:  3 Reasons CxO’s Turn to Managed Services

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Flagship Solutions Group can deliver efficiencies across hybrid infrastructures with a broad range of capabilities. We offer clients theflexibility to select the degree of support they want for each layer of infrastructure — from basic monitoring and management to long-term arrangements based on an innovation path designed to replace an aging or inflexible infrastructure with new technology.

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