MANAGED IT SERVICES | 7 MIN READ
Network security is a complex task that should be of the utmost importance for every business. Poor network security can lead to inefficient business operations, high downtime, cyber attacks, and more. Managed IT services are a tailored network security solution. Keep reading to learn what managed IT services are, what services they offer, and more.
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What are Managed IT Services?
Managed IT services are just what they sound like− IT services managed by a third-party company. They monitor and protect your network from cyber threats while optimizing business processes, backing up data, and minimizing network downtime.
Having proper IT support is becoming more important each year, as cyber threats are constantly on the rise. Businesses whose network stays stagnant or isn't constantly monitored are at a high risk of being victimized by a cyber attack, experiencing severe network downtime, and more.
For those who don't wish to build an in-house IT department, managed IT services provide a strong alternative. They ensure that you have dedicated personnel to actively monitor and protect your network from the cyber threats of today and tomorrow.
Services They Offer
Help Desk Support
Help desks are beneficial for when employees need assistance with anything from low-level to complex issues. These help desks function similarly to help desks you call into for basic customer support with your insurance agency, smartphone company, etc.
Help desk employees can usually remotely access your computer to assess the situation. This can solve problems quicker and save your company money in the long run by preventing in-person appointments, which may come with charges.
Some Managed Service Providers take customer service one step further with the implementation of a Network Operations Center (NOC). A NOC is a tiered help desk that functions to quickly elevate issues to the appropriate personnel best equipped to handle them.
Some help desks and NOC's have 24/7/365 support, which means that if an emergency happens after work hours, you won't have to wait until the next business day to address it. This can provide businesses peace of mind while
RELATED: NOC vs. Help Desk: Which is Better?
Hardware and Software Installations/Upgrades
Any MSP worth their salt will thoroughly assess your network before a contract period begins. This will show them which cyber security hardware and software should be installed.
MSP's also take the burden of upgrading this hardware and software off of you, freeing up internal employees to focus on business-critical tasks.
Some MSP's offer Hardware and Software as a Services (HaaS/SaaS). This saves your business money by letting you lease all the necessary equipment to properly outfit your network instead of buying it up-front. Sometimes, these agreements have automatic upgrades built in, which keeps your network up-to-date.
A virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) is responsible for planning and managing your company's network security. They can make recommendations to a business' executive team on which technology policies and updates to implement, as well as what strategies can be taken to further a company's business goals.
While a vCIO isn't physically present on-site every day, they stay in constant contact with a company and visit them periodically if needed. Having a vCIO built into your MSP contract allows your business to have a top-level IT expert to manage crises and strategize how to make your network fit your business' needs.
RELATED: What is a vCIO? [Complete Resource]
BCDR Plan Creation
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) plans are utilized by businesses to ensure that operations run smoothly with minimal downtime in the event of network outages caused by breaches or natural disasters.
Business Continuity plans re-direct resources, establish chains of command, and coordinate shifts in employees so that business operations have minimal interruptions during natural disasters and network outages.
Disaster Recovery plans mainly focus on how to utilize effective IT to quickly recover one's network with minimal downtime and data loss. A few main tenants of Disaster Recovery plans include server and network restoration and backup recovery.
Managed Threat Response (MTR)
A task that should be a chief concern for Managed Service Providers is to ensure that your business doesn't become the victim of a ransomware, malware, or other form of cyber attack.
An MSP's help desks and NOC's are equipped to provide a Managed Threat Response. They automate processes, sometimes using advanced methods like machine learning, to ensure that any cyber threats are quickly neutralized.
Data Privacy Regulatory Compliance
More and more data privacy regulations are being passed each year, which means that it is more paramount now than ever before that businesses stay compliant if they wish to avoid non-compliance penalties.
An MSP can assess your network and make subsequent updates to ensure that you stay compliant.
For instance, they can centralize the management of your security to minimize the amount of data available to third parties, or implement real-time alerts to ensure that you notify affected parties in a timely manner in the event of a data breach.
Cyber Security Educational Courses
All it takes is one employee who is uneducated about cyber security threats to slip up and let a hacker into your network. This can happen in an instant and can compromise your entire network.
Thankfully, some MSP's offer cyber security training for employees, including mock phishing tests. These tests send fake phishing emails to employees, and send those who click the email's link to a cyber security training course.
Some MSP's can also work with you to develop a password policy for your company, which ensures that, once employees are trained on how to avoid cyber threats, they don't let hackers into your network through the usage of weak passwords.
Business Growth Planning
Is your business planning on expanding or moving locations? Even if you aren't, imagine the planning that goes into an expansion or move. While you would probably consider factors such as the cost of these situations, you might not consider how to plan for your network to grow or move with you.
A Managed Service Provider can help strategize and implement a major business development like a move or growth. When it comes to office re-locations or business growth, many businesses forget to re-align their network to match.
An MSP can help you re-configure your network to best suit your business' future while staying on budget.
How Do Managed IT Services Compare to Other Options?
There are two other main network security options that a business can choose besides managed IT services: break-fix support and in-house IT. Keep reading to see how they compare to one another.
Option 1: Break-Fix IT
Cheap (Deceptively)− With break-fix, you install basic cyber security hardware and software yourself, and you simply call a break-fix company for basic computer support. This can seem cheap. However, without dedicated personnel to safeguard your network, you leave yourself open to downtime, cyber attacks, and more, which can become very costly.
Ineffective− Since break-fix models don't offer active network monitoring services, your network, over time, can experience issues that you wouldn't have if you had dedicated personnel to monitor and fix issues. Break-fix isn't a true corporate network security solution, and should instead be reserved for personal use.
Expensive− Break-fix is mainly there to fix computer functionality issues. When it comes to larger network-wide issues or cyber attacks, which are more likely to happen when you don't hire dedicated IT personnel, you'll have to pay for expensive hourly support, which can quickly add up.
RELATED: The True Cost of Downtime
Option 2: In-House IT
Customization− By building your own IT department from the ground up, you can customize it as you see fit. You can hire employees with the exact qualifications and experience that you prefer. Additionally, you can customize all the hardware and software that you'll have in your network. This includes everything from email filtering and antivirus to firewalls and servers.
Management− Since those employees are right in the office, you can physically visit your IT department any time you want with questions and concerns. Being able to have an in-person conversation with your IT department instead of a phone call or email can be valuable for getting issues solved quicker and giving you peace of mind.
Expensive− You have to pay for the salary and benefits of every full-time employee, which becomes sizable if you're trying to build an entire team. You also have to pay for all equipment that's essential for your team to effectively do their jobs. This means buying expensive workstations and various cyber security and management software.
Inefficient− Sick leave and vacation time poses potential issues for departmental productivity, especially when multiple employees are gone at the same time. In-house staff are also constantly bogged down by low-level complaints, which can further hinder productivity. Additionally, because in-house employees tend to work the normal 9-5 Monday-Friday hours, response times may be slower if an emergency happens outside of normal business hours.
Option 3: Managed IT Services
Cheaper− When you hire in-house IT, you have to pay for the salary and benefits of each full-time employee in that department along with a host of additional costs. In comparison, the salary of just one full-time in-house IT employee can pay for an entire managed IT package, which gives you a whole team of experts at your disposal. While there are a few different pricing models for managed IT, all of them are cheaper than building an in-house department.
Easier− After taking time to allot space for a new department in your office, you have to interview and hire the right people. Then, you have to work with those new employees to figure out what equipment is needed, and then execute the purchase and setup. This whole process can take months to properly execute. With managed IT, you simply sign with the right provider and then they take over from there.
Productive− By outsourcing your IT to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) you lower the risk of having an overwhelmed internal IT department. The team that an MSP assigns to manage your company's cyber security is usually segmented into tiers, which assures you that any issue, ranging from simple fixes all the way up to severe issues like ransomware attacks, will be appropriately elevated to the right person depending on the severity.
Secure− While the thought of letting a third-party company manage the security of your data can sound scary to some companies, in reality, an MSP employs a variety of tactics to keep your data safe. For instance, by creating a comprehensive BCDR plan, an MSP ensures that in the event of a network outage, data loss and downtime will be minimized. An MSP also stays current on evolving trends and updates your network accordingly.
Hands-Off− When you work with an MSP, you turn over the management of your network security to a third-party company. While an MSP will keep you in the loop on major updates and emerging threats, signing a deal with them means putting your trust in them to effectively protect your network. However, keep in mind that some businesses prefer a hands-off approach to cyber security as a means of taking the burden off internal staff.
Who is the Right Fit for Managed IT Services?
Not every business will be the right fit for managed IT services. While the following list does not cover every type of business who could benefit from managed IT services, use it as a jumping off point to spark a conversation within your organization.
A business could be a good fit for managed IT services if they:
- Don't have the time or resources to build an internal IT department themselves
- Don't have the up-front money to build their own IT department or buy all the necessary network security hardware and software themselves
- Are overwhelmed with managing their IT internally
- Have to be compliant with data privacy regulations
- Have experienced a data breach or cyber attack in the past
Managed IT services are a great way for companies to streamline business operations and protect their network while outsourcing their network security, effectively taking a burden off their shoulders.
As a Managed Service Provider, we strive to answer the questions on our audience's minds. We hope that this article answered your questions, however, we're sure that you have more.
To get the rest of your managed services questions answered and learn about other cyber security-related content, follow our blog!
Posted by Erica Kastner
Erica Kastner is a lead Content Specialist at Standard Office Systems as well as a University of Georgia graduate. She aims to use her passion for problem-solving to help businesses understand how to better leverage their network infrastructure.