Ultimate guide to managed services

Ultimate guide to managed services

Like their larger counterparts, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) need technology to get things done or achieve milestones. But they often lack the budget and expertise to keep up with the IT capabilities of competitors and keep their IT running smoothly.

This can usually be felt in different areas of a business. For example, an SMB may lack the technology and specialists to acquire and implement automation and cloud-based tools to streamline production processes. They may have flaws in security from the improper management of business technologies, resulting in more threats and vulnerabilities. External providers can take care of these and other problems, allowing enterprises to focus on the core business.

Outsourcing IT functions by partnering with an external IT support team is a good way to prevent problems from happening. The best way to do this is by partnering with managed services provider (MSP).


What is a managed services provider?

What is an MSP?

Related article: What is an MSP and can it help improve your business?

When IT support was once limited to the traditional break/fix approach, companies would outsource IT issues to consultants only when problems arose. Paying for this hourly was not cost-effective since expenses would pile up if downtimes took a long time. This doesn’t describe outsourcing today.

MSPs allow an enterprise to outsource the design and management of its IT systems. For a fixed fee, they receive proactive technical support for upgrades and issues. This stops problems before they can adversely affect the business.

Furthermore, an MSP has IT investments that are typically found in large companies. Their clients can use these resources, which include:

  • Cloud services
  • Bandwidth allocation
  • Security awareness training
  • Network security applications
  • Remote monitoring and management
  • Data center services and help desk support
  • Secure messaging and email
  • Remote firewall administration
  • VoIP and unified communications
  • Data regulations compliance
  • And more!

For a monthly subscription fee, clients can leverage an MSP’s technology resources and support to enjoy optimized cutting-edge technology, improved security and compliance, predictable IT expenses, and customized IT solutions for business processes. No capital investment is needed to unlock these benefits. Since an MSP’s fee is usually fixed, it only increases when you need more services.

Partnering with an MSP also gives clients access to the former’s IT experts who are more than capable of handling even the most complex IT problems. Since most businesses struggle to hire IT “experts” who have high salaries,they can turn to MSPs that will manage your IT infrastructure around the clock.

You can learn more about the benefits of MSPs to your business below.

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How can an MSP help your business?

MSP Benefits

Related article: 5 Ways an MSP can keep your business technology working efficiently

With the help of an MSP, enterprises can level the playing field and use technology they can’t afford on their own. Technology that supports the business becomes optimized or more efficient and:

  • Cost-effective, allowing clients to pay only for the technology they use when they need it.
  • Scalable to meet business expansion requirements or increased levels of production without having to spend on capital investments.
  • Secure from new and prevalent attacks such as ransomware, data breaches, cryptojacking, social engineering, and internal threats.
  • Optimized since its network environment’s applications are properly and strategically integrated into existing systems.
  • More competitive through better first-to-market capabilities such as faster research and development, and deployment of products and services.

More than technology, MSPs ultimately help SMBs become better. With more efficient technology, SMBs can expect streamlined operations, resulting in higher efficiency and productivity, strategic technology planning and upgrades, comprehensive security, and disaster recovery. Let’s examine these benefits one by one:

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#1 Higher efficiency and productivity

MSP boosts productivity

Related article: Ways an MSP boosts overall productivity

With IT design and management in the hands of an MSP, enterprises can expect an increase in efficiency and productivity in the following areas:

  • Infrastructure management and monitoring
    To keep your enterprise system stable or optimal, MSPs manage and monitor IT infrastructures through remote monitoring and management, patch management, malware protection, and virtual private networks (VPNs).
  • Automation
    They use automation tools such as "self-healing," a pre-configured automated response to service failures so that devices in your enterprise IT environment operate at peak performance.
  • Cloud adoption
    An MSP has the expertise to support the transition to a cloud-based system that can streamline your operations and boost your bottom line.
  • Interoperability
    Acting as your own in-house IT department, MSPs can choose solutions to match your business needs and optimize them for compatibility with your existing applications and systems.

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#2 Strategic technology planning and upgrades

Benefits of buying hardware from an MSP

Related article: Unexpected benefits of buying IT hardware from an MSP

With an MSP as your technology partner, your business can gain a lot from strategically planned IT and you can scale your IT resources up or down with ease. Strategic IT planning is necessary for business growth, but even more so for SMBs, because it allows them to focus on key business areas such as sales, marketing, inventory, and customer service.

Working with an MSP also ensures you won’t get stuck with outdated IT infrastructure, which often leads your business to have security vulnerabilities, miss opportunities, and fall behind competitors. A reliable MSP knows the latest trends, products, and services to streamline operations and make IT systems more efficient. Your business will benefit from careful planning in the acquisition of hardware and have access to high-quality hardware services, including:

  • Rock-bottom prices
    Because an MSP’s revenue is based on a client’s long-term subscriptions and not equipment purchases, the provider strives to form long-term relationships by offering the best hardware prices.
  • Speedy resolutions
    Apart from streamlined purchases and installation, MSPs are well-acquainted with the hardware they sell, so they can resolve problems faster.
  • Privileged vendor access
    On top of ensuring that your hardware is always running smoothly, all device defects that need manufacturer attention are expedited quickly and with no fuss. You’ll never have to call a manufacturer hotline again.
  • Practical solutions
    The latest, most powerful, and most cutting-edge technology isn’t always right for your business. With their industry expertise and experience, an MSP can find the best and most cost-effective solution for your hardware needs.
  • More benefits
    You can read more about the hardware procurement benefits of having an MSP as a technology partner below.

An MSP is also manned by specialists and help desk technicians providing 24/7 unlimited support through three services:

  • IT reports and audits
    The incredible amount of data created by your office’s information technology systems can be too much for your internal IT specialists to handle. An MSP can turn this data into reports about cybersecurity, data backups, and help desk traffic for more efficient and economical workflows.
  • Updates and upgrades
    Updates can be difficult for your in-house IT specialists to keep up with and missing one can lead to disaster in a world rife with data breaches and malware. MSPs also keep a record of all the applications you use and track update releases closely.
  • IT consulting
    MSPs provide consulting over technology assessments, design, and project management. This includes queries about innovations that accelerate productivity, such as improved communications and collaborations.

You can read more about how these MSP services rival and surpass in-house IT support by clicking the link below.

Related article: Things MSPs do that in-house IT could never keep up with

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#3 Comprehensive security

multi-layer security solutions

Related article: The multi-layer security solution for common cyberattacks

Antivirus and firewalls are important components in keeping your network environment safe, but they are not enough. Given the daily threats that proliferate in the digital world, the best way to guarantee your business’s safety online is by having a multilayered security strategy or a comprehensive set of security solutions that covers each vulnerability and support one another. Spectrumwise’s seven-layer security strategy will protect you from dangers such as phishing attacks, device theft, malware, viruses, social media threats, ransomware, and zero-day threats. To be effective, these multilayered security systems must include:

  • Information security policies
    These are rigid sets of rules your employees must abide by to mitigate human error and prevent data breaches and other security-related issues.
  • Physical security
    This is a set of security standards to protect your network devices. It includes everything from locking server racks to defining which company devices may leave the premises and under which rules they may do so.
  • Secure networks and systems
    This describes measures to maintain and monitor your systems such as firewalls, VPN, and other security routines. Its processes include checking network traffic logs, responding to suspicious network access in real time, and updating your settings in the face of new threats.
  • Vulnerability programs
    This layer involves regularly auditing and updating your systems, including security applications, to address new infrastructure vulnerabilities.
  • Access control measures
    This security layer involves regulating who can access various data, enforcing foolproof password policies, and establishing authentication processes like multifactor authentication.
  • Data backup and protection
    Automated data backup systems ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster by archiving data at regular intervals and copying them over to off-site locations.
  • Ongoing monitoring and testing
    This final layer involves constantly testing both on-site and off-site systems for weak spots and recommending solutions to address them. It also involves sending you alerts whenever monitoring sees something out of the ordinary.

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#4 Disaster recovery

disaster recovery best practices

Related article: Disaster recovery best practices

Technical failures, natural disasters, and cyberattacks can cost your business a lot of money. Without a disaster recovery plan (DRP) to mitigate the damages, your business is bound to experience huge losses. To put it plainly, disaster recovery is a necessity for any business, as it protects crucial data using automated and real-time backups, and recovers programs and processes quickly.

A good MSP should have an effective DRP as part of a business continuity plan. This will help protect your data, systems, and servers and quickly restore them after a disaster. This saves companies the trouble of investing in technologies to deal with emergencies like natural disasters, outages, and data breaches.

You can tell if the DRP has a high standard if it considers the following:

  • Risk assessments and business impact analyses
    To come up with an effective step-by-step DRP, an MSP first conducts an in-depth assessment of vulnerabilities and how processes could be affected by catastrophes.
  • Potential threat analysis
    A DRP should have a recovery plan for different scenarios after taking into account the complete spectrum of “potential interrupters” to your business.
  • Testing
    Testing is a crucial part of a DRP. Without testing and verification, you’ll never know whether you can recover from a disaster or extended outage. Testing periods are necessary to identify security and backup issues.
  • DRaaS
    Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide failover in the event of a man-made or natural catastrophe. These on-demand services have made disaster recovery easier and more economical.
  • Compliance
    A DRP must comply with strict industry regulations to help the business establish and implement the highest cybersecurity protocols and standards, and avoid fines and other liabilities.

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Do you need an MSP?

signs your business is ready for an MSP

Related article: 5 Signs your business is ready for an MSP

MSPs enable business growth, address pain points, and scale to meet new challenges and opportunities.This doesn’t mean, however, that all businesses need an MSP. For instance, the timing may be wrong or one’s current setup may not require it. Partnering with an MSP in this case will lead to unnecessary costs. So when do you need an MSP? Here are five signs to watch out for:

  1. Stunted infrastructure
  2. Regular tech problems
  3. Operational deficiencies and missed opportunities
  4. Overwhelmed but underused IT talent
  5. Data breaches and other deadly security threats

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How to choose an MSP

evaluationg an MSP

Related article: Guidelines in evaluating a managed services provider

This epic article from Spectrumwise explains the benefits of an MSP and how it can help your business. It also tells you when to partner with one. However, don’t just connect with any MSP since not all of them are created equal.

MSPs have different solutions for businesses, so it pays to know which MSP fits your unique business needs. You should also check if they can truly deliver what they promise or if their services are fair. Before signing a service level agreement, consider the following:

  1. Know the IT services or solutions that your firm needs and what the MSP can deliver.
  2. See if a potential MSP partner has worked with businesses of the same size, scope, and industry as yours.
  3. Ask your prospective MSP if it offers 24/7/365 support and can provide a dedicated or support manager for your company.
  4. An MSP should be able to demonstrate its capabilities in protecting your network, systems, and data from threats.
  5. Check for client testimonials, technical certifications or partnerships, and awards for exemplary services that your prospective MSP has.

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With 18 years of MSP experience, Spectrumwise has helped businesses overcome IT challenges and limitations, giving them a competitive advantage. Not sure if your business is ready to partner with an MSP? Find out what it can do for your business. Contact us today.

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