March 2012

Managed Services Growth

More Organizations Using Managed Services

By: Erica Abdnour, Stratosphere Networks

Presently, there has been a rise in the number of organizations using managed services for a considerable amount of their information technology needs. While the number of managed service providers per company can vary from two and head upwards to more than ten, this growing trend signifies the dependence companies have on these services.

With the recent economic climate hitting small to medium sized businesses hard, it has become increasingly difficult to regulate annual spending and keep up with current technology trends. As business owners continue to focus on the money-making aspects of their business models, many are finding that outsourcing their IT infrastructure to alleviate the strain of maintaining it themselves. After all, business owners are oftentimes inundated with day-to-day administrative responsibilities, client crises, aggressive branding campaigns and interoffice activities—why not take some of the stress away by putting your IT system in the hands of someone else?

Enter: The IT managed service provider.

Many businesses are seeing major benefits of using an IT managed service provider through the reduced strain on internal personnel and a solid increase in the productivity of day-to-day operations, all of which can result in a better business model. Organizations that are choosing managed service providers for some or all of their IT needs are saving money, seeing an uptick in productivity, and have peace of mind that their IT system is secure at all times.

Businesses choose to use managed service providers for a variety of reasons; reduced annual spending is one of the main causes for the increase in companies taking advantage of these managed services. Organizations choosing this strategy gain a highly talented IT department without the need to pay benefits, vacation and training, or worry about subsequent turnover. Studies have shown that about half the users who have benefited from these services save as much as 24% in their annual IT costs. Some even reduced their expenditures by 50% or more. Companies who have taken the time to use managed services have also found a higher satisfaction with their IT experiences. Performance, uptime and amenable contract terms are cited as some of the reasons why they feel favorably towards this. Individuals have also reported they feel the secure environment and flexibility was of a better caliber than what services they had previously. This peace of mind was important in many cases.

Another major reason companies are making the switch is the fact they want to reduce staff to help lower costs for the IT department. These companies also gain access to current technology that they might not otherwise know about and may be spending money wastefully on other, older software. Additionally, the increase in security that comes with the managed service providers also proves to be of high importance to these individuals as well.

Regardless if you choose to have an internal IT staff or outsource your IT, it is important to ensure that you have top level talent readily available. When partnered with a qualified, reputable managed service provider, you gain an entire team of experts at a network operations center who are certified in many IT applications. These experts are always up to date with the latest technologies and practices for specific businesses and industries with a goal of helping their clients succeed.

Between successfully running internal operations and ensuring your clients are receiving optimal service, maintaining your IT infrastructure can fall by the wayside. Because of this, more and more business owners are choosing to outsource their IT to managed service providers, ultimately cutting costs and obtaining peace of mind knowing that their technology is constantly maintained. Take a look at managed services by the numbers in a survey conducted by CompTIA:- 46% of organizations using managed services have cut their annual IT expenses by 25% or more-13% of those organizations have cut costs by 50% or more- 89% of current managed services users reported that they are most satisfied with performance and uptime, agreeable contract terms, a secure environment and flexibility to quickly add new services- 51% of companies are contracting with a managed service provider to free up internal IT staffs to work on revenue-generating activities- 62% of end users plan to increase their IT spend on managed services – Based on the average annual salary of an in-house IT professional, using a managed service provider can save nearly 80% of yearly IT costs

The impressive increase in managed services usage is a result of the inability for a small internal IT team to constantly manage a system. Many companies find it helpful to supplement their current IT staff with managed services so that they, too, can have the round-the-clock monitoring that a managed service provider can offer. Companies who rely on a team member to maintain their IT network often find that that person is overwhelmed with their combined typical daily responsibilities and regular IT maintenance.

“When working with small and medium sized companies, our goal is to ensure that they have a tailored managed service package that is specific to their business and industry,” said Kevin Rubin, COO of Stratosphere Networks, a nationwide managed service provider based in Evanston, Illinois. “We can either supplement the internal IT operations that a business has in place, or we can serve as a 24/7 IT ‘department’ altogether. Our clients rely on us to proactively monitor their systems so that they can focus on their business initiatives.”

IT managed service companies work by fixing issues as soon as they arise; in many cases even before the client has noticed. Round-the-clock alerting means that as soon as an issue arises the managed service company is aware and the problem can be resolved before it impacts your business. It also means that the issue is fixed faster, as the engineer has direct access to your systems 24 hours a day. Not only is a team readily available to you, but they also have the ability to remotely monitor your IT infrastructure at all times. Having the capability to control your network offsite allows for expedited service so that your business does not suffer from any downtime during a system malfunction.

Reports show majority of customers regard good communication skills an important factor towards choosing a managed services provider. Systematic activity reports are deemed essential in this decision process for many IT departments as well. When you hire a managed service provider, you are getting an entire team of experts focused on your specific system as well as regular communication with you.

Those looking for managed services for their IT department will want to take note of the items mentioned above. In addition to the basic services essential to companies, the IT providers have to acknowledge items such as subscriptions and flat rate payments when they are looking at the different pricing models to present to organizations in search of a managed service provider. The overall cost should be a reduction from an organization’s standard operating costs to remain beneficial and competitive.

Over the next two years, studies show more companies will increase the amount of business handled through these managed services. Items that will typically be passed along in these cases will include:

  • Help desk support
  • Website hosting
  • Firewall and antivirus protection
  • Network administration
  • Email management
  • Cloud support
  • Router management
  • Backup and disaster recovery

Keep in mind each managed service provider may offer different IT services. It will be important that the interested individual shop around to determine which company will meet their needs in the most efficient manner possible. Also ensure that companies you talk to have the expertise that your business will require and has a proven track record of delivering high-quality managed services.

“It makes sense to use a managed service provider in any sized business,” says Rubin. “If you are looking to drastically slash IT costs and be on the forefront of the latest technologies and practices, managed IT services are a great choice.”

About Stratosphere Networks
Stratosphere Networks is a multifaceted IT managed service provider focused on delivering comprehensive technology services and solutions to meet and exceed the always-changing, diverse business needs for all industries. Our Mission is for our customers to gain a significant competitive advantage by utilizing our comprehensive IT services and best-in-class technology solutions. Our proactive 24/7/365 IT service, combined with our guaranteed on-site response times provides our customers with peace of mind and allows them to achieve their specific business initiatives. Visit www.stratospherenetworks.com for more details.

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