• What Are Managed IT Services?

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Managed IT Services provide a range of outsourced computing solutions, including data storage, data access, and backup/recovery. Managed service providers offer a complete and professionally staffed data centre setup that removes the startup costs of building a private onsite data centre. A service level agreement (SLA) outlines the contracted delivery of services.

Benefits of Managed IT Services

Managed IT services provide companies with a suite of complementary overall benefits that aim to improve business operations and reduce expenditure. Newer business owners with relatively lower staffing levels and greatly reduced comparative demands on access to data do not generally stand to benefit from outsourced managed IT services. However, medium to large scale businesses may find that there are several major advantages to managed IT services.

Benefits of managed IT services include:

  • Up To Date Technology
    Professionally managed IT services provide users with access to the latest technology both in terms of application builds and data centre hardware. Updates to software and hardware (at no extra cost to the customer) typically form part of the provider’s policy, meaning the user stands to benefit from the automatic transition from outdated technologies to current IT solutions.
  • Access To Expert Staff
    Big data stored in virtual servers (both in terms of public servers and private servers) requires an expert level of maintenance. Managed IT services are carried out in fully staffed data centres, ensuring that users benefit from access to professional IT staff as part of the service.
  • Reduced Start-Up Costs The costs associated with building an internal data centre can be split into the costs of purchasing the physical hardware, employing expert staff, and dedicating space in which the data centre can be housed. Opting to outsource to managed IT services means that companies no longer have to consider these costs.

What is a Service Level Agreement (SLA)?

The relationship between the client and the Managed Services Provider (MSP) is based on a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The SLA is a contract that contains the agreed features of the work to be carried out by the MSP.

For example, a typical SLA for managed IT services may contain:

  • IT Services
    This part of the agreement serves to outline the exact nature of the IT services requested by the user. Services could include data storage, access to applications, and backup/recovery. Whether the service user is to be provided with access to a public virtual servers or whether the user requires access to a private virtual servers will also be established at this stage.
  • Time of Day - Guaranteed Access
    Where the user enters into an SLA that outlines access to public virtual servers stored within the third party data centre, there is a necessity to put in place an agreement for access to applications at specified times. For example, a company may specify a wish to provide clients with a 99.5% guarantee of access to online applications between the hours of 06:00 AM and 18:00 PM. The MSP would then be responsible for providing scalable server solutions to ensure this target is met.
  • Business Continuity - Backup/Recovery
    A typical feature of an SLA is that of backup/recovery. Whereas ‘backup’ is a means of storing regular snapshots of company data that may be used to seed replacement machines in the event of a client-side hardware failure, ‘recovery’ is a means of mirroring close to real time data on a cloud server that may be instantly accessed (allowing work to continue seamlessly) in the event of a catastrophic client-side IT failure. Both backup and recovery are types of Business Continuity (BC). The SLA will outline expected timeframes within which the user’s chosen data backup/recovery procedure should occur.

 

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