Managed Services is an umbrella term for information technology (IT) services provided by a third-party contractor (a Managed Service Provider – MSP). An MSP is responsible for the reliable and secure operation of an organization’s IT systems.

Managed Services go back to the 1990s when application service providers started hosting remote applications services. This set the stage for companies to provide both remote and onsite tech support.

Managed Services are based on a service level agreement (SLA). The SLA defines what IT services are provided and how they will be delivered. Most businesses like to pay a fixed monthly fee for Managed Services, so there are no costly surprises or unexpected bills.

This is also an attractive model for small and midsized businesses because they can predict their IT service and support costs.

What’s Included In Managed Services?

Managed Services can include a variety of IT services:

  • Help Desk
  • Backup & Disaster Recovery
  • Remote Monitoring & Management
  • Onsite Tech Support
  • Mobile Device Monitoring
  • Cloud Services
  • Data Security
  • Data Storage
  • Internet Service
  • Hosted Services
  • Secure Data Centers
  • Wi-Fi Service
  • Hardware & Software Procurement
  • Monthly Reports
  • Strategic IT Planning
  • Virtual CIO Services
  • Risk Assessments
  • Compliance Services
  • Security Awareness Training
  • VoIP Business Phone Services
  • And more

Managed Services Can Be Customized

Rather than providing a “one-size-fits-all” solution, your MSP will consult with you to determine what your organization needs based on your operations and goals. They can then customize your services to meet your unique needs.

These are just examples of how Managed Services are customized:

  • Consider a small accounting firm with five people. They are concerned about confidentiality, fiduciary responsibilities and financial record retention. Plus, they’ll also need support for the software they use, like QuickBooks. We provide our proprietary QuickBooks By Infiniwiz that we could add to their Managed Services along with managed security and other services.
  • Or, a healthcare organization might need the HIPAA Compliance Services that we offer. These could be added into the Managed Services offering as well.
  • For clients that want to reduce or eliminate the need to buy new computer hardware and software, we operate and maintain secure data centers for them. Applications and servers are stored securely in one central data center, providing managed services to employees wherever they are.

Managed Services Can Include Cloud Services

With the advent of cloud computing, MSPs now offer a variety of services like:

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). These are services such as email, file storage, file sharing, communication, bookkeeping, etc. Examples include Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Citrix’s GoToMeeting, Google Apps, Dropbox and more.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). These are web application management, design, storage, security and application development services. Examples include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Windows Azure, Google App Engine, Salesforce’s and more.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). This is where you outsource the hardware that you need by renting things like an offsite server, storage, and dedicated network. Examples include VMWare, Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, Rackspace, Red Hat, Microsoft Azure.

MSPs offer cloud structures like:

  • A Private Cloud. This is where IT services are provided over a private IT infrastructure and are only for use by a single organization. If your business uses a private cloud, it’s managed within your IT infrastructure.
  • A Hybrid Cloud. This combines a private and public cloud. You can keep some data stored internally, and other solutions hosted offsite. A hybrid cloud is integrated into your in-house IT infrastructure with other products and services that you use to provide a customized cloud computing environment to meet your unique needs.

Managed Services Are Proactive

Most importantly, MSPs provide proactive rather than reactive service. They anticipate your needs by adding servers, routers, and storage before they are critically necessary. And continuous remote testing of systems and backups makes sure that your IT infrastructure will be ready to handle whatever operating challenges emerge.

Remote monitoring and management of servers, workstations and mobile devices is a basic premise of Managed Services. This provides the foundation to ensure reliability and security.

Managed security services are typically included in an SLA because all businesses today are concerned about their IT security.

With Managed Security as a Service, IT security is monitored along with a layered defense where threats and exploits are detected and eliminated before they steal or lock up data. Remote monitoring also determines other irregularities and repairs them before they cause downtime.

How Much Do Managed Services Cost?

This is where it can get a little confusing. MSPs charge for service in some ways. Per-device, per-user, tiered pricing, all-inclusive pricing and a la carte are among the typical pricing models.

For example, remote management and monitoring may be billed on a per-user basis where you pay according to the number of devices that are monitored. Or it may be best for you to use an all-inclusive pricing model where you pay a flat fee for all of the managed IT services you use. You can work with your MSP to decide which pricing model works for your unique needs.

  • Per Device: This model is straightforward. Many MSPs use it for this reason. A flat fee is charged for each device that’s supported. Basic per-device pricing might be (and this will vary) a flat fee of $299 per server, $99 per managed network, $69 per desktop, and $29 per network printer.
  • Per User: This is much like the per-device pricing model except the flat fee is billed per user, per month and covers support for all of the devices used. For example, it would include things like workstations, laptops, smartphones, home PCs and connectivity, and communication from hotel computers and kiosks when staff travels.
  • Tiered Pricing: This is the most popular for MSPs. You’ll be offered the choice of several bundled packages of services. For example, a Tier One desktop managed services package could consist of basic remote and help desk support, patch management, and virus removal for an affordable price. A Tier Two desktop managed services package may include everything in Tier One along with onsite visits. The Tier Three desktop managed serviced package would include what’s in Tier One and Tier Two packages along with emergency after-hours support. All-Inclusive pricing is flexible. It would include remote support, on-site support, and 24/7 year-round support or services all for a fixed fee. The primary goal is to provide a plan that is easy to budget for throughout the year, without fluctuations and surprises.
  • A La Carte Pricing: This is the most customized managed service plan. Your MSP would include discrete services that address your specific needs. This gives you the ability to select and pay for exactly what you require and nothing more. Your MSP would build a customized package of managed IT services designed just for your business.

Managed Services Provide Peace Of Mind

Managed Services are the most attractive option for small and midsized businesses today. With the right MSP and combination of services, you can concentrate on your business and leave your IT worries in the hands of a capable provider.

For more information about Managed IT Services for your business in Chicagoland, contact the IT experts at Infiniwiz.