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Managed Services vs IT Support


An article released today by revealed that 30% of Small-to-Medium sized businesses plan to adopt some form of managed service offering for their IT in 2010. Research has suggested that today, as little as 10% of SMB devices are being managed. Is this a growth opportunity? Why would an SMB be interested in managed services?

The answer lies in the old chestnut: value. Time is money, we accept that. The new paradigm is that as dependency on IT becomes greater and greater, down-time is greater money. Managed services offer pro-active, fixed price IT spend where all network devices are monitored remotely and the business is guaranteed a level of uptime not seen in traditional IT support contracts. This service level agreement is where the true value of managed services lie with SMBs.

So why isn't every VAR now offering managed services? The answer to this lies in another familiar chestnut: cost. Managed service platforms are prohibitively expensive to buy. Add on top of this the resources required operating it, employee hours and on-sell margin and you have a product that is uttely unaffordable for all but the wealthiest of SMBs. For many customers, the break-fix model of it support isn't broken, so don't fix it. Especially not if it's going to cost that much. However, there are alternatives to expensive enterprise managed services technology. Groundworks, Zenoss and Hyperic are just a few of the fantastic open source managed services / network management platforms that can provide the level of proactive support that SMBs need, at a price point they can afford.

We see a large potential for growth in this area in the sweet-spot of 30-60 users, where the decision is made whether to have internal IT or not. With an open source managed services offering from a local IT support provider, operating costs can be halved and value added by outsourcing the maintenance of the IT infrastructure.

A managed service provider (MSP) is typically a larger IT services provider, however smaller IT service providers are quickly filling this space also. For a flat monthly fee an MSP manages and assumes responsibility for providing a defined set of services to their clients, either proactively or as they determine that the services are needed. This benefits the SMB who is looking for predictable IT support costs.

In short, if you're looking to make every dollar count by making better use of existing technologies, people and budgets managed services is an attractive option. If you are challenged by stagnant IT budget and are looking to reduce the complexity and cost of maintaining IT infrastructure it may prove prescient to reassess the break/fix model of IT support and instead seek out a solution that reduces complexity, is low risk and provides a positive impact on productivity and efficiency. Search for a local IT support provider that implements one of the award-winning open source network management platforms and find out how you can increase uptime and improve the bottom line of your business.

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