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IT Managed Services

by Mike Dickson

Over the years I’ve worked with all kinds of companies from the smallest start-up companies, to some of the largest companies in the world, and I’ve learned it does not matter how big or how small you are, at some point all companies question whether they are effectively managing increasing Information Technology costs.  Technology costs often are the second highest expenditure after personnel costs, and strangely enough, failing to properly manage technology (that which you have, and that which you should have) can cost companies significant amounts of real money in terms of lost productivity, profit margin, or excessive hardware as well as software maintenance and support costs.  This article is not going to talk about IT staffing levels, or Cloud based computing, but both are relevant to the bigger picture of managing technology.  The rest of this article will focus on managing your technology infrastructure in a cost effective manner.

All IT departments need to advise, implement, train, provision access, monitor systems error logs, support user requests, and ensure the availability and recoverability of the data processing resources.  These services can be provided by internal IT resources, external service providers, or a combination of both.  Conventional wisdom often says that only big companies can afford external resources to outsource some or all of these IT services, but as the complexity of IT systems continues to increase, even smaller companies are beginning to see the benefits of having someone else manage their information technology resources.  This change in market realities is coming into fruition because huge economics of scale are creeping into the economic models of third party information technology service providers.  It is also becoming increasingly more difficult to build and maintain specialized technical knowledge within a small business that is necessary to effectively and efficiently operating the diverse and complex systems.

Managed Services are not necessarily a cheap strategy; it is more of a visionary strategy that can significantly change the way management obtains IT support for key business and shared collaborative information systems.  A carefully designed managed service environment can provide a company with access to a wide range of technical experts that you need, when you need them, without having the associated payroll costs of multiple experts on a full or part time basis.  As an integral part of managing your systems, most properly designed managed service agreements will provide automated monitoring and logging of operations, security incidents, and other key performance metrics.

A well-managed information systems environment that provides the following characteristics can be provided by a third-party managed service provider:

  • Systems are inventoried and monitored to ensure they are properly configured, available and operational
  • Networks and related infrastructure are monitored for inappropriate usage, unauthorized access, and for attempts to penetrate or otherwise compromise the network or the data it stores and processes.
  • A robust help desk and incident reporting system that logs and tracks requests for assistance and the ultimate resolution of the issue.
  • Remote access and support so that network engineers and application support professionals can connect to servers and workstations to provide systems maintenance and support without being onsite
  • Backup is administered and monitored to ensure daily completion.  Often an integrated off-site / on-line backup solution is provided
  • Security administration of user access, file directory permissions, and virus definition and prevention can be supervised, maintained, and monitored
  • Security configuration of firewalls, virtual private networks, and routers

There are a few established and well known managed service providers in the market place today. Some are regional or national providers, and others are based in central Ohio.  Contact GBQ’s Business Technology Group to learn more about how we have assisted our clients with finding, designing, and implementing managed service agreements that improve IT effectiveness by leveraging third party services.

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