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What are managed IT services?

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Modern businesses have to cope with a massive number of IT functions ranging from security to hardware maintenance. Although large firms have the resources to employ internal teams for these tasks, smaller businesses often find themselves strained to keep up with their own technological needs.

This situation has led to the rise of the market for managed IT services. With managed services, companies can outsource certain tasks that would otherwise have to be handled by their in-house IT staff. Here’s what you need to know about managed services and what they can do to cover your company’s IT needs.

How do managed IT services work?

In managed service arrangements, businesses employ third-party managed service providers (MSPs) to take over clearly defined parts of their normal IT workloads. The exact scope of the service and the ways in which it is measured are typically set out in a service level agreement (SLA). Once an SLA is in place, the MSP can take over the IT functions it has been contracted to manage.

Businesses see several different advantages from outsourcing some of their routine IT tasks. To begin with, contracting out these tasks out to specialists often makes it possible for businesses to bring their IT services in at a lower cost. By freeing up IT staff for more critical work, managed services can also make businesses more efficient and improve their profitability.

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Many MSPs also offer 24/7 IT support, allowing business to run continuously without paying for additional hours of labor.

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Managed service providers can cover several different categories of IT tasks for SMBs. Following are some of the functions that many small businesses choose to fully or partially outsource to MSPs.

Cybersecurity

Because of the time, expertise and resources involved, many SMBs have difficulty creating and implementing strong cybersecurity strategies.

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Studies show that more than 70 percent of smaller business aren’t equipped to handle cyber threats, even as the burden of those threats continues to grow.

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For businesses that are struggling to secure their tech assets, managed network security services can be a useful solution. Rather than employing a full team of cybersecurity specialists, your business can outsource certain elements of its security strategy to a service provider with the resources and expertise needed to fully secure your network. Some of the security functions that SMBs frequently outsource include penetration testing, log monitoring, disaster recovery planning and spam filtering.

Data backup and recovery

Data is one of the most valuable assets a company can have these days, but it is also vulnerable to any number of potential threats that could result in its loss. Although loss due to malicious attacks is more high profile, ordinary system failures and simple human error account for a majority of data loss incidents. For this reason, data backups are essential for all businesses, no matter how strong their cybersecurity may be.

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Unfortunately, 58 percent of small businesses don’t have plans in place to cope with data loss.

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Using managed backup services can benefit your business in a number of ways. To begin with, an MSP can help you recover your data quickly and efficiently when needed. In some cases, even major recovery projects such as carrying out a disaster recovery plan can be outsourced to the MSP. Using a service provider’s server infrastructure will also help your business avoid the cost of buying and maintaining its own dedicated servers for backup storage, which can be quite high. Finally, an MSP can automatically create several copies of your backups, allowing for greater reliability through redundancy.

Cloud services

Thanks to its scaling capabilities, support for remote collaboration and much lower IT costs compared to the use of traditional in-house servers, cloud computing has become a major component of the small business technology landscape. To take advantage of these benefits, though, SMBs need cloud servicesproviders that can supply and maintain the necessary cloud computing infrastructure. Service providers are also responsible for the hardware updates needed to keep the cloud servers secure and running smoothly. By outsourcing these functions to a third-party service provider, your business can direct its focus to more important and profitable tasks.

What are managed IT services?

Strategic IT planning

In addition to handling specific technology-related tasks, many MSPs also offer IT consulting services. An IT consultant can help your business plan for future IT needs and implement the tools needed to meet those needs. Consultants can also help to improve your current systems by recommending new solutions that can enhance your productivity, data security and IT budget management. Even if you prefer to keep most of your IT workload in-house, a qualified consultant can offer useful advice that will help you make better decisions about your technology strategies.

By taking over some of your day-to-day IT tasks, a managed services provider can help to reduce your technology spending and increase the efficiency of your business. Although every business has different technology needs, there are likely at least some IT functions that your SMB can outsource to free up its staff for more important work. Consider outsourcing tasks that are eating up your resources and your employees’ valuable time, and you can set your business up for increased profitability and less technology-related frustration.