Managed Services, Makes Sense or Not?
Another trend that we see is an increase in organizations embracing and utilizing Managed Services. Many are increasingly seeing value in managed services solutions. What exactly is a Managed Service? So as to make it simple as to what Managed Services really means, let's define it: the outsourcing of part/some/all of your technology or operations to an outside provider, or a Managed Service Provider or MSP. There are many reasons as to why an organization might want to do this, and we'll discuss below. The bottom line is that it can make sense for many organizations for a variety of reasons.
One of the main reasons that organizations consider Managed Services is to reduce costs. Generally speaking, it can be cheaper to have an MSP perform specific services than to perform them in house, not always the case, but generally. The reason being is a MSP most likely has multiple people (or teams) that perform the task(s) that you would have them perform. Simple economics when it comes to resources, which would allow them to be fairly aggressive in their pricing, plus those resources are generally shared amongst multiple customers, therefore giving the MSP the ability to drive pricing down, to the benefit of its customers.
That being said in terms of reducing costs, it's important to understand exactly what is covered within a Managed Services contract and what is not. If there is something that you expected to be covered, and turns out is not, you may have pay an additional project or hourly fee—generally through a PCR (Project Change Request)—to your Managed Service contract, which may incur additional costs that you had not accounted for. That's why is important to work with an MSP that is very transparent and flexible in the services and pricing they provide, so you know exactly what you are and are not getting.
Other reasons include more efficient delivery of services and filling in the gaps where skills may be lacking. If an organization doesn't have skills (or has lacking in the quality of those skills) to support their server environment, for example, an MSP could help provide the skills that they do not have, or are lacking in terms of quality. And since the resources provided by the MSP would be high quality resources strong in their respective skills, the organization will be getting skills and support in a much more efficient manner than they could probably provide internally.
Some organizations use Managed Services simply because they do not want to manage their technology or IT operations in-house anymore. They would just rather have someone perform those functions for them so that they can focus upon their core business, whatever that is. We commonly see scenarios where organizations want to manage some of their environment or operations internally and have an MSP manage other areas. This gives them the best of all worlds by using internal skills and internal strengths where they can, and use the MSP for areas in which they are not (or choose not to be) strong in terms of operational or technical abilities.
Another area for consideration for Managed Services is adopting new technologies or environments. An organization might want to engage an MSP to help for a specific period of time (minimally usually a year) before their own people have enough skills to provide those skills internally as needed without the MSP. Though we've also seen organizations enter into Managed Services with this intent mind and then find over time it's just easier, cheaper, and more efficient to let someone else handle it for them.
Managed Services can be either onsite or remote, or a combination thereof, depending on specific needs. A good MSP will have the ability to provide any combination of service and support needed. Also, Managed Services can be delivered in a Managed or Co-Managed fashion. Managed Services overall will generally provide resources and some sort of tool(s) used to monitor/manage/remediate (or combination of) whatever environment is being supported.
In a Managed environment, the MSP generally provides the tools and the resources, where in a Co-Managed environment, the MSP would provide the resources, but uses some/all of the customers' existing tools already in place. Co-managed can potentially be cheaper, since an MSP doesn't have to invest in tools (which are built into their monthly pricing), especially if a customer already has in place and they perform well.
So the question becomes: Should you consider a Managed Services solution for some/part/all of your environment? The true answer is it depends on your needs. A Managed Services solution that is "fitted" correctly to your needs which take into account costs, gaps, skills needed, etc., can certainly be worth considering and might make sense, plus will provide you with consistent monthly costs. And since most of us don’t tend to get large increases in IT budgets each year, we all have to make due with what we have in the most efficient way possible. And a Managed Service solution (and competent MSP) can help in that regard.
What are your thoughts and experiences in regards to Managed Services? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.