From firewalls to switches to servers and more, there are different manufacturers, models, and features for every component within your IT environment.
But, if you rely on a managed IT services provider (MSP) for IT support and management, your options aren’t so endless. Most MSPs have a set of standards they require customers to abide by when it comes to IT hardware.
By requiring you meet specific hardware requirements, MSPs create uniformity, which means they can troubleshoot and resolve issues faster.
At The KR Group, we require all our customers to use the same devices at the network layer; this includes your firewall, access points, and switches).
Those elements are essential to your IT environment but aren’t the entirety.
Some MSPs may have specific requirements for servers, storage, and other devices. However, The KR Group isn’t particular about the manufacturer of these solutions, as long as they’re enterprise grade.
We’ve found there are three major benefits for customers when you standardize on a technology stack:
- A standard creates uniformity and simplified support.
- Devices are back-tested and trusted.
- Billing is straightforward and efficient.
Overall, these benefits create a better experience and optimum security for the customer and the MSP engineer.
Standards Create Uniformity
On the MSP’s end, however, this means they’re juggling requests from multiple customers at a time. Ticketing systems help organize the requests, but to enable efficiency, most MSPs require some level of uniformity with their required hardware.
This prevents an MSP from having to know the specifics of different brands of hardware for every customer.
With hardware standards, you can call in for tech support, and regardless of which engineer you speak with, they’re all trained to troubleshoot and support your devices.
As a customer, you will notice your MSP can identify and resolve problems faster since they know the ins and outs of the standardized brand of hardware.
Requirements Are Back-Tested and Trusted
Not only does the MSP initially choose hardware they’re confident will perform well, but since all customers use it, they’re repeatedly testing the hardware in various environments.
When an MSP requires a specific hardware brand, it means they research, test, and trust it.
As a customer, you should be confident that your MSP has worked through problems or quirks with the particular make of hardware and has a wealth of knowledge to rely on.
Billing Is Straightforward and Efficient
Managed IT services also avoid a common annoyance businesses have with IT consulting bills: perceived hidden fees.
When using an IT consultant for as-needed support, you’ll predominantly be addressing (and paying for) tech support reactively. As a result, you’ll receive multiple invoices that will look differently depending on what they’re for. On the billing end, this ad-hoc invoicing frequently leaves room for miscommunication.
To complicate the situation further, if you’re receiving subscription solutions from the IT consultant, it’s another separate invoice you’ll receive along with ad hoc bills.
MSPs simplify this whole process because they’re the sole provider for all your IT needs. You’ll receive one invoice for the support, solutions, and hardware included in your contract.
So What Does The KR Group Provide?
1. One firewall per site filters unwanted or malicious traffic within your IT environment.
Your firewall will include identity-based and device-aware security to enable administrators (your MSP) to ensure appropriate access levels across your network.
Additionally, firewalls with Layer 7 classification and control offer control of evasive, encrypted, and peer-to-peer applications that traditional firewalls can’t control.
2. One 48-port switch with power over Ethernet receives, processes, and forwards data packets between destinations in the same network.
The purpose of a switch is to allow your network to share information faster and ultimately improve productivity.
Since you have multiple systems connected to your network and working together, having a switch allows traffic to flow to the appropriate place by directing the traffic.
3. Two access points ensure wireless connectivity throughout your office.
While additional features may exist, an access point’s primary function will always be wireless connectivity.
If you’re in a wireless environment and connecting to the internet via a smartphone, tablet, laptop, television, etc., it’s likely through an access point.
4. A back-up hardware target with off-site replication offers redundancy for your important files and databases in case you lose data.
This device provides infrastructure security, data privacy certification, central management and configuration, and efficient file restoration.
These are the minimum requirements and cover the needs of about 90% of our customers. However, since no two organizations are the same, you might need different or additional technology.
For example, some customers require a third access point or have a second location and need another firewall. We’ll write this variation into your contract, and your final monthly rate may increase to reflect the additional hardware.
Implementing Hardware Requirements
If you’re looking to start a managed IT services contract, you already have plenty of questions as you think about handing over your IT environment.
Thankfully MSPs provide hardware standards, so you don’t have to guess what devices you can or can’t use.
Hardware standards mean the devices in your IT environment and back-tested and trusted, and they provide uniformity for MSPs – which means problems are solved faster.
Another benefit is billing is simplified because your MSP provides your hardware, so everything stays on a single invoice.
As I said earlier, hardware isn’t the only component you evaluate as you consider switching or onboarding a new MSP. For more information, you can check out this free onboarding checklist to guide you through the onboarding process.