Managed Services is a vague term. We covered this in our guide to all things managed services. But, just as confusing as the name, is what Managed Services entail.
Managed Services Providers can manage different aspects of your technology environment through different types of plans, all of which include different services. The three most common models are the co-managed, fully outsourced, and application management plans. Each provider differs in their specific offerings, but there are a few common services that most MSPs offer. Let’s dive in.
Networks and Infrastructure
Network and Infrastructure Services include a variety of tasks related to administration and management of your network systems, most of which are day-to-day maintenance tasks to keep systems functioning optimally. An MSP can take over tasks such as:
- Managing software and hardware
- Support for network equipment
- Wireless device network reporting
- Installing patches and updates
- Monitoring performance and connectivity
- Managing backups
A provider will be hands on with your network and use proactive monitoring to ensure your network operates smoothly, so you don’t have to. PEI offers networking services as part of our fully outsourced plans, and we also offer a Network & Connectivity application management plan for businesses only looking for help with their network.
As more and more of our work and personal lives move online, it’s no wonder that Cloud Infrastructure Services are in high demand. It seems the more systems and processes that can be moved online, the better because it allows employees to access their work from anywhere. Cloud Infrastructure Services are a cost-effective way to provide flexibility to your business because it makes scaling services to grow with a business easy.
Each provider’s offerings differ, but common Cloud Infrastructure Services include:
- Administration tasks and monitoring for cloud networking components
- Managing virtual servers
- Installing updates
- Monitoring performance
- Managing storage
Some providers may even offer services for cloud apps or operating systems. As part of our cloud services, PEI offers Azure consulting services to help cloud users better employ Azure. The consulting service provides guidance on cost management, security, reliability, operational efficiency, and performance so our customers get the most out of their Azure subscription.
A Managed Service Provider can create more efficient communication within your company by managing communication solutions. Just like with Cloud Infrastructure, all providers are different in their Communications offerings. Some will offer different software for messaging, calling, and data sharing, while others offer one solution for all of these needs. As a Microsoft Partner with a Gold Communications Certification, PEI works with Microsoft Teams. Teams is a one-stop-shop for all business communication needs if it is managed properly.
Microsoft Teams infrastructure can be hosted on-premises or in the cloud, both of which are manageable by an MSP. When Teams is on premises, a provider manages the physical servers, edge servers, session border controllers, and network connectivity. When it comes to the cloud, your provider has less to manage as it cuts out a lot of the physical hardware. PEI’s Communications Services focus on:
- Proactive monitoring of SBCs, Firewalls, and Switches
- Teams service delivery interruption root cause analysis, and resolution
- Management of user accounts
- Monthly monitoring and usage reports
- Support of Teams handset firmware
- Microsoft 365 Backup for users
- Support desk and after-hours support
Communications solutions are available as part of a fully outsourced plan, or in the form of an application management plan depending on the needs of your business.
You probably value your business’s security. You need to keep your data safe if you plan to build trust with clients. Managed Security is a growing service as it includes any remote security solution your business may need, from network and cloud security to mobile device management. There are a number of Security Solutions, and it is up to you to decide what your business needs.
PEI’s managed security offering provides protection for six major attack vectors in your business:
- Cloud Environment
- Data backups
- Servers and Workstations
- Regular patch installations
- Antivirus and antimalware solutions
- User Accounts and Credentials
- Multi-factor authentication
- Login attempts reporting and monitoring
- Email and Inboxes
- Advanced email filtering and scanning
- Internet Filtering
- DNS filtering
- User Behavior and Awareness
- Simulated attacks as a training mechanism
Managed Security Services can come from a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP), a fully outsourced plan with an MSP, or an application management plan that includes your specific security needs. Security is essential for the success of any business and should be a top priority when considering Managed Services.
Software as a Service
Software as a Service (SaaS) is just what it sounds like. An MSP manages software platforms for your business. If you notice a software license such as Office 365 is included in your Managed Services Plan, and they help manage the service, your provider offers SaaS. Managing software can include:
- Configuration and Management
- Usage Reporting
- Managing Users (adding/removing/changing permissions)
- Software Backup and Support
- Software Asset Management
Software as a Service applies to more than just Microsoft Office. Some providers manage communication or anti-virus software as part of their offerings. (Remember the Communications and Security Services we covered earlier?) PEI offers the training platform QuickHelp in this way, which provides clients with training resources they would otherwise need to purchase a subscription for.
Data Backup and Recovery
We hate to say it, but data breaches happen. Of course, you can take security measures to limit your risk, but the world is never free of bad actors. If you do experience a data breach, and you work with an MSP that offers Data Backup and Recovery Services, you are in luck.
Your provider should be backing up your data on a regular basis—as laid out in your agreement—so in the event of an attack or accidental data loss, your provider can recover missing files.
PEI offers Managed Backup Services to clients which includes regular backups and data restoration in the event of loss. A benefit of outsourcing Data Backup and Recovery Services is that you typically do not need to provide the hardware to store data; providers generally have their own system and hardware in place. Data Backup and Recovery Services take a weight of your chest, so you can be confident your business’s most valuable data is safe.
IT Strategy Services
Many MSPs offer IT Strategy Services as part of their fully outsourced plans. The easiest to recognize being vCIO Services. This service pairs you with an expert to build an IT roadmap for your business. Together, you can strategize and decide how IT can help meet your business goals.
IT Strategy Services show a provider’s commitment to your business. While they will manage your technology to make sure everything is operating properly, they also want to help you implement IT in a way that drives your business forward.
Managed IT Services
Managed IT Services encapsulates a long list of potential services, and these are only seven of the most common ones. You may have picked up on some of the overlap between these services, especially in fully outsourced plans. However, if you are only looking for help with a specific service, or assistance managing a specific software, ask any potential providers about their application management plans. You do not need to pay for services you will not use.
Managed Services is an investment in your IT and in your business. If you are ready to take the next step, you can contact PEI today to learn about our service offerings.
Anna Ross, PEI