What are managed IT services?
What are managed IT services? They’re the key to helping your clients grow and scale their businesses.
More specifically, however, they’re information technology tasks handled by a third-party vendor. Small to medium businesses can leverage these services on a subscription basis to elevate their companies to the same level as the industry giants in their field at a fraction of the cost.
From computers and phones to networks and passwords, many tech systems keep small-medium businesses (SMBs) running and their data safe. But many SMBs don’t have the time, talent, or money to handle these systems in-house.
That’s where managed IT services come in.
Benefits of managed IT services
The biggest corporations in the world make IT a priority. They can build out first-class internal IT teams because they pull in the appropriate revenue to do so. As a result, SMBs are faced with the challenge of finding a solution to fill that gap and level the playing field. When put in this position, smart business owners leverage managed IT services.
Here is just a quick rundown of what leveraging third-party IT experts can do for you.
Reduce IT spending
With the help of MSPs, SMBs can reap the benefits of IT support at a much lower cost compared to creating a comparable internal team. Small to medium business owners can pay for the services they need when they need them through a subscription-based model, allowing them to scale as needed.
Contracting managed IT services out to an MSP also makes internal budgeting and expense tracking easier. Organizations can forecast their monthly, quarterly, and yearly expenditure on IT since the costs of MSP subscription packages are generally fixed and consistent. This frees SMBs to focus on more mission-critical tasks like business development or marketing.
Leverage expert knowledge
Another benefit of managed IT is the breadth of expertise MSPs can bring to your organization. These professionals possess in-depth expertise on things like effective cybersecurity policies, industry compliance, and knowledge from real-world experience.
An MSP’s intricate cybersecurity and regulatory compliance knowledge are invaluable tools for mitigating a client’s risk. As the go-to experts in charge of a company’s managed IT support, MSPs are always up-to-date on the latest information, technologies, and processes that will keep your infrastructure working efficiently and successfully well into the future.
For some business sectors, like finance, healthcare, and education, regulatory compliance is mandatory. Strict regulations that govern data management, storage, and overall cybersecurity in these industries require the expertise and experience that a managed IT company can provide.
MSPs regularly work with standards such as PCI compliance and should be able to advise an organization on the parameters and regulations for their industry. Additionally, MSPs can offer a wealth of experience compared to other previous cybersecurity management services with multiple client accounts that in-house teams would not have.
Not only do your clients experience the skills of an MSP, but they also benefit from your resources. Finding the skilled talent to build an internal IT team can be bad enough. Most business owners also forget that IT operations are resource-intensive as well.
Partnering with a third-party MSP can make services more dependable and reduce interruptions. Furthermore, vendor-client SLAs clarify what’s to be expected and when to expect it, making both IT services and utility services (electricity, internet, etc.) reliable.
Clients also receive the added benefit of a dedicated IT professional. Internal IT teams may have to balance the workload of several different responsibilities. Hiring an MSP means clients receive your sole focus on the health, maintenance, and performance of their IT system. Fewer distractions mean you can provide them the first-class service they deserve around the clock.
More definitions for managed IT services
Agent—A small program MSPs use to gather information remotely about the status of machines and devices. Once installed, MSPs can manage systems, update programs, and resolve issues faster. Agents are integral to providing clients with a unified monitoring & management framework for their entire IT estate.
Backup and disaster recovery (BDR)—A combination of data backup and disaster recovery solutions that works cohesively to ensure an organization's critical business functions will continue to operate despite serious incidents or disasters and will be recovered to an operational state within a reasonably short period.
Break/fix —An older, reactive style for delivering IT services and repairs to organizations in a fee-for-service framework. Essentially, a client contacts a break/fix technician to request upgrades, maintenance, or resolve issues after they’ve already occurred. In the break/fix model, technicians bill customers on a “per service” basis after completing the work.
Fully managed IT services —Services coupled with a Network Operations Center to monitor systems proactively, resolve issues and perform work with a level of expertise and efficiency unparalleled to other solutions.
Help desk—A service that provides information and technical support to end-users. Some MSPs white label their help desk services to create a smoother client experience.
Information technology (IT)—An enterprise solution for storing, transmitting, creating, and using data through computing devices, networks, and telecommunications.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)—An MSP offering for SMBs. It includes virtualized hardware over a cloud computing environment, such as server space, network connections, IP addresses, load balancers, and other computer infrastructure that allow clients to build their own platforms.
Internet of Things (IoT)—The emergent network of tangible objects and products that contain software, sensors, and connectivity to the internet or private networks and can exchange information based on standards set forth by the International Telecommunication Union's Global Standards Initiative.
In-house IT managed services—When an organization hires its own IT service providers and pays their salary, benefits, further training, and the network infrastructure they monitor. This is typically a costly endeavor. Businesses that try to procure in-house IT managed services often lack the capabilities to service their system entirely. Choosing to build out a full, internal IT team can hinder an organization’s overall business management and affect the business’s ability to grow and scale.
IT channel—An industry-exclusive marketplace where VARs, MSPs, and OEMs provide platforms, products, and services to end-users by partnering with hardware and software vendors.
Labor arbitrage—The phenomenon of decreasing end costs by utilizing the abundant labor forces, education, and training of untapped global workforces.
Managed IT services—IT tasks and processes fulfilled by a third-party organization rather than an internal IT team.
Managed service provider (MSP)—An IT professional (or IT organization) that offers managed IT solutions for various SMBs. Their core focus is supporting customer IT needs. A managed service provider, however, differs slightly from an MSSP (see below), and it’s essential to make that distinction. MSSPs also include a cybersecurity focus. An MSP+ may add basic cybersecurity to their services, but the offerings aren’t as robust as MSSP offerings.
Managed service and security provider (MSSP)—An IT professional (or IT organization) that offers managed IT services for a variety of SMBs. MSSPs meet the same IT needs as MSPs, but with the addition of cybersecurity services like firewalls, endpoint protection, email filtering, and more. MSSPs provide 24/7 protection to combat security breaches and other cybersecurity issues. Click here to read more about the difference between MSP, MSP+, and MSSP.
Mobile device management (MDM)—A security platform used to monitor, manage, and secure employees' mobile devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) deployed across multiple mobile service providers and operating systems in an organization. MDM is a vital tool in helping MSPs stop social engineering attacks on their clients and preventing human error’s impact on network safety and cybersecurity.
Remote monitoring and management (RMM)—A centralized platform that uses a collection of services and tools to monitor, manage and deploy solutions to servers and endpoint devices utilizing agent software installed on endpoint systems.
Service-level agreement (SLA)—A contract between a vendor and a client that specifies what the vendor will deliver in what timeframe and the criteria for measuring vendor success.
Small- and medium-sized business (SMB)—On average, a company or organization with 100 or fewer employees is considered small; 100-999 employees are medium-sized. IT channel partners often seek SMB organizations as clients.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)—Sometimes referred to as “software on demand,” SaaS platforms license or distribute software to various customers on a “pay-as-you-go” subscription basis. SaaS software applications are centrally hosted by their provider and accessed by end-users via a cloud-based interface.
Value-added reseller (VAR)—An organization that adds services or features to a product and then resells it as a new product or solution.
Ultimately, there are a variety of components to what a managed service provider is and does. As a business owner, you’ll need to fill the roles of a network operations center (NOC), a security operations center (SOC), a help desk, and more.
With so many roles to fill, choosing an MSP can feel overwhelming. Most small to medium business owners opt for integrated IT services – a convenient platform that provides all of these packages into one.
ConnectWise offers easy-to-understand packages for this service, and we’re always happy to assist, even if you have general questions. Feel free to drop us a line any time!
History of managed IT services
At the outset of enterprise computing, information technology services and management were on a break/fix basis. A technician would come out to fix managed computer systems only after they stopped working. Often, this technician was the same person who built or installed the computer system.
From this point, computer manufacturing continued to grow to the point where large corporations like IBM, Microsoft, and Apple took over. The small IT dealer was left to focus less on manufacturing and more on break/fix IT services. This method of maintenance was time-consuming, labor-intensive, costly, and reactive. It left little room for the technician to grow their business or take on new clients without massive investments in labor and infrastructure.
The number of computers in the overall marketplace would continue to increase exponentially year after year. The gap between technicians and the number of computers they could reasonably service grew wider and wider. As a result, managed IT services emerged in the early 2000s to meet this need, representing a massive shift from the traditional break/fix model.
This new, proactive approach to IT was heralded for attempting to conduct proactive maintenance, upgrades, system monitoring, and issue resolution on a routine basis – to prevent problems before they start. Automation increased internet capabilities, and cloud computing allowed remote monitoring and issue resolution, enabling more efficient processes and a consolidation of resources.
Efficiency, consolidated resources, and client satisfaction – coupled with fixed rates, the ability to offer greater service offerings, and the ability to take on more clientele – led to managed IT becoming the industry-standard approach to managing computer systems large and small for SMBs.
Managed IT services tools for MSPs
MSPs have come a long way from the early days of managed IT services. Now, these experts have a range of IT expertise and tools to resolve issues efficiently. MSPs can provide “white glove” service to more clients than ever before using these modern and ever-evolving processes, tools, and software.
For example, professional services automation (PSA) software is built for MSPs to organize their operations. Everything from project management and help desk services to reporting and billing all happens in one place, helping MSPs save time and do more for their customers.
Other tools help MSPs provide managed IT services 24/7/365. As defined above, RMM and BDR tools can work together to identify and fix issues before clients are even aware. Client data remains safe and secure, and many problems are handled remotely. In the end, these tools allow MSPs to keep client costs down while providing better service, allowing clients to operate their businesses – and live their lives – with peace of mind.
The managed IT services model
MSP services are typically offered at a flat, recurring rate in tiered levels. As service levels increase, clients receive greater automation and management per their specified service level agreement. Customers or end-users only pay for the services they require and can increase or decrease their service tier based on business needs and demand.
End users pay for off-site services, such as remote monitoring and management, help desk solutions, backup and disaster recovery, and more. While some business owners and managers may see these services as additional expenses, these services should actually be considered essential operating expenses to maintain core business functionality.
IT managed services enable customers to run their businesses more smoothly and efficiently than otherwise possible. Additionally, they offer SaaS-based solutions at a price that in-house options can’t beat.
Contrary to what you might think, managed IT services do not necessarily make internal IT professionals obsolete. For the end user, an IT professional can act as an endpoint liaison that manages the relationship, provides feedback, and analyzes the reports provided by the MSP. Because the MSP is completing most of the routine work, the IT professional is capable of greater efficiency and the flexibility to tackle more extensive, complex projects they would otherwise not have the time or capacity to handle. Since MSPs allow SMBs to free up these workforce resources, MSPs become a valuable resource to businesses at any size and during any stage of their growth.
Mastering managed IT services
Managed IT services are constantly in-demand. Understanding the industry's framework, history, and terminology is essential to providing clients with the service they deserve. The space can be competitive, but it’s nothing to be intimidated by. Partnering with the right MSP vendor can make all the difference.
ConnectWise can offer you a full suite of MSP software platforms and tools. Let our team of experts help you handle everything from your remote management and monitoring to your professional services automation.
We’re here to see you succeed in this industry, so feel free to reach out to us any time and leverage our years of expertise to elevate your MSP business. You can also leverage the knowledge of your peers – fellow experts within the MSP industry.