Every day, your business uses technology in dozens of ways.
It’s a fact that easily taken for granted until something stops working, and productivity is suddenly impacted while you scramble to figure out how to resolve it.
If you don’t have a dedicated team responsible for maintaining your IT environment, a issue or outage can last long enough to impact your profits.
Internal IT departments are one option, but they can be expensive and don’t offer redundancy.
Oftentimes, small and medium businesses turn to a managed IT service provider (MSP) to handle their IT needs.
If you’re new to the concept of managed services, you’re in the right spot.
As an IT consulting firm, managed services are one of the ways The KR Group provides IT support for other businesses. We love talking with potential clients about how working with an MSP can transform your business.
Before we get into that, let’s answer your likely first question: What does an MSP do?
The short answer is an MSP takes responsibility for your IT environment, including resolving issues when something breaks.
But, I’m guessing that explanation raises more questions without completely answering the first. To help you understand what to expect as a managed services customer, let’s review a few areas an MSP will assist with your IT environment:
- Software suite
Keep in mind that each MSP will have it’s only basic take on the service. The ones you’ll read about in this article should be included in any MSP’s contract.
Managed IT Service Providers Maintain Your IT
This means if you have a problem with any component, you can submit a service request to your MSP.
This includes complex components, such as your servers, to simple desktop problems like an application that won’t open in your internet browser.
Once you submit a service ticket, your MSP will acknowledge they received it, but how soon the issue is resolved will depend on the impact of the problem.
MSPs assess the following when deciding where to place your request in the queue:
- What is the importance of the affected system(s)?
- How many users are affected by this problem?
- Are there possible workarounds for this issue?
- Does the problem pose a security risk?
Failures of highly important systems that affect multiple users with no workarounds are given the highest priority. Meanwhile, MSPs assign a lower priority to problems that affect less important systems, impact only a handful of users, and have a workaround.
This doesn’t mean your issue won’t be solved quickly. However, the above scenario highlights what can happen if your MSP finds themselves extremely busy at a specific point in time.
If the problem poses a cybersecurity risk, this will also increase the ticket’s priority.
A Managed IT Service Provider Backs Up Your Data
Maintaining your environment by resolving your issues is the most visible aspect of an MSP’s duties, but it’s only a portion of what they’re doing for your IT.
Another area your managed IT service provider will take care of is back-ups.
By backing-up your data, you have something to rely on if your existing data is destroyed.
For example, if malware, such as a ransomware attack, hijacks your data, you can delete your existing data and re-upload your unaffected data. Depending on your RPO (recovery point objective) you may lose a day or so of data, but it’s better than completely starting over.
Many MSPs provide off-site or cloud back-up which protects your data from natural disasters as well. If your IT environment is physically compromised and your back-up data is stored elsewhere, your MSP can upload the most recent version of your data to your new physical infrastructure.
Your MSP backs up your data without you even having to think about it, which gives you one less thing to worry about.
Most MSP contracts include a back-up solution with the monthly subscription price.
Managed IT Service Providers Offer Security Solutions
Ideally, you’ll never rely on your back-up to restore data destroyed or hijacked in a breach because your MSP has implemented a comprehensive set of security solutions.
While each provider will have its own take on what solutions are included and what brands they recommend, you should look for an MSP that provides a robust combination of software, assessments, and scans. Here are a few examples:
- Anti-spam catches malware at the email level. It flags suspicious emails and prevents malicious software from coming through your user’s online inboxes.
- Next-generation antivirus identifies threats that may be lurking on your devices.
- DNS filtration monitors your internet traffic for potential suspicious or malicious links and prevents users from opening them.
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security step that requires you to enter a code in addition to your login credentials. In a world where cybersecurity threats are continually advancing, it’s essential to protect your IT environment.
- Blue team assessments, penetration testing, and vulnerability scans are different cybersecurity evaluation tools your MSP will use to identify vulnerabilities and gaps in your IT security posture and, ultimately, strengthen it.
- Security awareness training helps your users identify and avoid potential threats they could otherwise unknowingly allow into your network. Your users are your biggest vulnerability, which makes training them imperative.
A Managed Service Provider Monitors Your IT Environment
With a firewall, antivirus, and anti-spam, your MSP can monitor your IT environment for any threats.
Your MSP will also use a remote monitoring and maintenance (RMM) toolkit.
On the monitoring end, this tool proactively monitors your endpoints and network, making sure nothing is amiss. IT then reports that information back to the MSP, so they are immediately aware if something goes wrong.
It also has a maintenance component, as it allows your MSP to remotely resolve some issues.
Most MSPs can resolve about 80% of issues remotely, which means you won’t need to wait for an engineer to come on-site to address your problems.
What Can Managed Services Do for Your Business?
When you partner with an MSP, you’ll receive all of the benefits to keep your IT environment running smoothly.
You’ll no longer have to worry about maintaining and monitoring your IT environment – or recruiting someone to do it for you.
You don’t have to decide which firewall, antivirus, and anti-spam to use since your MSP has tested solutions for you.
And, if you lose your data, your MSP backs it up for you.
If you’re still unsure if managed services are the right fit for your business, read through our ultimate guide to managed IT services to learn more about this IT support option for your needs.