People consistently ask us about the latest trends and technologies impacting managed services. I decided to interview Bill McCharen, Chief Operating Officer at MyITpros and an expert on the latest evolution of managed services. Here’s what Bill had to say:
Q: What is the biggest trend in managed services?
A: Hands down, the biggest trend and disruption that we are seeing is the cloud.
Historically, we have supported clients with on premise infrastructure. As the cloud gains popularity, we’re seeing in-house servers and applications disappear.
We’re seeing more of a new kind of business – ones that are “born in the cloud.” They start without on premise infrastructure, and have no plans to acquire it. They still need consulting and support, but it’s a different kind of support.
Theoretically, it should cost less to manage clients in the cloud. When a company first moves from on premise to the cloud, support requirements often spike as the organization adapts to the change. After a while, this demand diminishes so we can offer a lower price for managed services.
Some organizations are still support intensive after going to the cloud for various reasons. It may be the personality of the business or its attitude toward technology. Or they may be a hybrid, requiring a lot of local support as well as cloud support. Those who are more totally in the cloud require less support, so support costs less.
Q: What is the impact of mobility?
A: Like the cloud, mobility is disrupting how support is needed.
As you introduce mobility, especially in the SMB market, you’re talking about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
Within SMB, you seldom see company-issued phones or tablets – the devices are owned by employees and the company chooses not to provide IT support.
Mobile devices are shifting power from IT departments to users. This can be dangerous, especially around data backup and security. You are far more likely to see mobile device management in mid-market and enterprise organizations where security risks are taken more seriously, and there is an established budget for mitigating such risks.
The mobile explosion is happening. Everyone has multiple devices and they’re driving demand for seamless integration among all devices. Doing this is out of the scope of expertise of many IT departments, and presents both a challenge and an opportunity to managed service providers (MSPs).
Q: What are your managed security offerings, and what value do they provide?
A: One of the most important aspects of security is data security, which has many forms.
One is simple privacy – making sure no one else can see or get to the data.
Another is making sure it’s available, which is where data backup, business continuity and disaster recovery services come into play.
A key part of any managed service plan is monitoring many aspects of security, and has been for years. We then add on other layers of security:
- Email Security stops many threats before they reach the Inbox.
- Advanced Endpoint Security bundles three applications for protection against viruses, web threats and other types of malware.
- Firewall as a Service is a service including hardware and warranty-as-a-service for a low monthly fee, with firewall configurations backed up to our datacenter. If there is a hardware failure, the client has a much faster recovery because we can replace it immediately, and restore settings from the cloud in minutes.
This layered approach is superior to a Unified Threat Management device. Using best-in-class apps from a variety of vendors is more effective and less expensive than using second rate equivalents jammed into one little box from one hardware vendor.
Q: How do the best MSPs help clients benefit from new technology?
A: For us, the most powerful way to stay on top of business needs and how technology supports them is the Managed Business Review.
It’s one of the highest levels of consulting we do for a client.
We meet with our clients quarterly or annually and begin by presenting a list of their core technologies, giving each item a grade. This helps bring to light the appropriateness of any technology given current circumstances. Conversations then range from topics like high-level changes in the direction of the business, to low level annoyances that hurt productivity.
This is a valuable way for MyITpros to continually assess changing circumstances and make solid recommendations. Issues come to light that otherwise wouldn’t in day-to-day maintenance and troubleshooting. Sometimes big changes can be made with a few tweaks or a little training. Other times a new technology might be the ticket.
At their core, the best managed services are more proactive than reactive. Technologies change quickly and constantly, but the best MSPs stay on top, or ahead of each new wave. What we do and how we do it changes; why we do it stays the same – to help and empower the people we serve.
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