What IT Pros Need to Know (and Forget) About Managed Services

Apr 27, 2017
  • HA/DR

If you’ve ever walked into a grocery store, you’ve probably seen employees stock shelves. What you may not know is that, in many cases, the people stocking those shelves aren’t employed by the grocery store, but rather by the vendor whose products they are stocking. And it makes sense: companies would sooner trust their own employees to handle their products properly than a busy and sometimes understaffed supermarket.

This is how Terry Plath, Vision Solutions’ Vice President of Services and Sales Engineering, sees managed services.

“People whose focus is on a particular solution, like HA/DR, really know it inside out,” says Plath. And that knowledge is the basis for Vision Solutions’ managed services offering. Customers who use MIMIX or iTERA can trust Vision to handle the day-to-day management of their HA/DR environments. This takes stress off in-house staff while making sure the environment stays available and switch-ready. Customers can choose pre-packaged tiered options with additional a la carte features to personalize their experience, but one common element in managed services, according to Plath, is the knowledge of industry experts.

“We have a wide pool of experts with enough experience that there are no surprises in HA/DR anymore. They've seen it all.”

There are many managed services providers available, and picking the right one shouldn’t be left to chance. Plath provided four key tips for finding the provider that will work best with you:

  1. Look for specialists. "As companies are looking to hand work off, you want to look for people who have the experience in the area you want," says Plath, "A hosting service may not manage an HA/DR environment and even an HA/DR provider may not service your specific solution." Plath advises customers to understand the difference between the level of service provided by an HA managed services provider like Vision Solutions and a general cloud or hosting provider in order to confirm whomever is managing your HA solution is giving you exactly what you need--not too much or too little. 
  2. Have a thorough service level agreement. Clients should make clear the exact expectations of their managed services offering. Plath even encourages SLAs include penalties for under-performance. When an entire IT environment is on the line, there is no room for guesswork or surprises.
  3. Ensure a training and certification program is in place. The greatest benefit of using a managed services provider is access to often decades of industry expertise. And the best way of ensuring you get the proper expertise is by confirming that your service provide uses formal training and certification to find the best talent to manage your environment.
  4. Make sure there isn’t a lot of turnover. The relationship your company forms with a managed services provider should last for years. So it’s best to avoid providers that suffer a great deal of shakeup within its ranks. Consistency in staff is the most direct path to consistency in IT management. And Terry Plath recommends the best way to see if your provider has a turnover problem is just to ask. Directness and openness will ensure that your professional relationship starts off on the right foot.

There are also misconceptions about managed services Mr. Plath would like to dispel. Chief among them is the fear that managed services is a way for companies to reduce jobs and outsource in-house labor. He notes that many of Visions’ managed services customers are actually companies that need additional help performing critical tasks for their HA/DR environments.

“They have system administrators who are stretched way too thin. Their servers may not be ready for failover because HA/DR is only, say, 1/16 of their job--and sometimes that's being generous.” More and more businesses are waking up to the fact that leanness can reach a point of diminishing returns. Insufficient staffing can lead to mistakes and long-term risk of disaster. Vision Solutions Managed Services looks to bridge that gap, offering a simple answer that keeps everyone on-task and satisfied.

“The fact of the matter is managed services is not going to take anyone’s job,” says Plath, “I actually look at this as job security because you know there will be no surprises with your HA solution.”

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Vision Solutions recently celebrated its 100th managed services client. To learn more about the solutions they enjoy, attend our free webcast on managed services. Get more original insights, ask questions and figure out which managed services agreement would best suit your business. Click here to register for our webcast.