Cloud computing enriches many aspects of IT, on both a personal and business level. Automatic backups and sharing are available for free to anyone with a smart device, but beyond online storage, what does it bring to business computing?
Well, cloud computer offers up a world of opportunities for companies who want to bring in a Managed Network Provider – a service that allows you to outsource your IT requirements to a third party, freeing up your current resources to focus on your core business.
But what precisely does an MSP do? Here, we’ll look at what you can expect from an MSP if you decide to take one on as an external partner.
What does an MSP do?
Fundamentally, an MSP will provide on-going support and take care of the administrative side of your IT network. The great thing about many MSPs is they’re happy to support an extremely broad range of tasks. From making sure your printer is working to advanced network solutions, VPNs and more – they’ll be able to help you out. There are some more specialist organisations out there – some who handle more high-end, sometimes niche tasks, but generally speaking, as a small business you’ll be left with a huge range of providers to choose from.
A big benefit of MSPs is proactive support. They’ll keep any eye on your systems 24/7 via remote monitoring software, attempting to stay ahead of any issues that could occur, and let’s face it, issues do occur. As well as monitoring, an increasing number of businesses and MSPs are able to collaborate remotely in even more of a ‘hands on’ way than ever before – especially owing to the advent of SD WAN systems becoming more common in small business.
It’s fair to consider an MSP as an entire, expansive IT team at your disposal, without any of the risks – beyond a low monthly fee you agree to in your Service Level Agreement.
Service level agreements
A Service Level Agreement is a contract between you and the provider which identifies what you want and what they want in return for giving it to you. In circumstances like this, they are often highly bespoke – which means you can absolutely tailor your requirements to your budget.
Need guaranteed uptime, all the time? No problem. Need to give priority to specific traffic sources or users passing through your network? Also not a problem.
What you can expect from you service will be laid out clearly for you when you agree to your SLA. Sometimes, for simplicity’s sake, providers may provide ‘packages’ – the benefit here is it gives you a good idea of what angle to go in from and allows you to add and remove features until you find the solution you’re comfortable. Given the nature of the service they’re providing, MSPs understand that if you’re not comfortable with how their service might affect your business if not tailored to their needs, they’re not providing a good enough service.
SLAs are just a formal way of establishing just how you’re going to collaborate. You’ll ideally never need to refer to it, but it’s always there as a reference point when reviewing your ongoing situation if needs be.
MSPs really shine when It comes to avoiding the in-depth recruitment process that needed when you’re looking at taking on an in-house team. As we mentioned, with an MSP, you effectively get an entire IT of specialists. If they can’t solve a problem for you, they’ll find someone who can.
The benefits of working like this instead of building up your own superhero in-house IT team should be obvious from the outset.
It’s estimated that the whole recruitment process of adding just 2 or 3 people can cost your business up to £20,000, either in money down or use of resources. There’s no arguing there are some benefits to having an in-house team, but the they’re vastly outweighed by the service an MSP can bring at a significantly lower price.
Removing employee logistics
Of course, there’s more to running a business full of people than just the recruitment process. Managing a team is an often deeply involved process.
Employees bring challenges, challenges that should in all fairness, expected. People need and are entitled to time off, to take leave, to sleep and have private lives where they get to switch off from work. Whilst a good boss shows compassion for all these things, IT doesn’t care much for them.
In an ideal world, you’d like a team that doesn’t take time off, is never sick, and doesn’t seek new adventures elsewhere. Well, unfortunately for people hoping to form the backbone of an IT team, an MSP will get on with the job at all times. Your IT system will be covered and working, maintained and supported at all times.
No training requirements
When recruiting, most of time you’ll be faced with candidates who will excel at many things but are still going to need training to fit exactly in as you anticipated. The problem is, in terms of pure cost, training comes second only to recruiting.
In many instances, a high level of training and certification is required just to be able to legitimately offer a service to your clients. Without either of these you risk costly mistakes and potentially dangerous gap in knowledge.
So, while you’ve got the actual monetary cost of enrolling staff on systems training and certification courses, you’ve also the cost of their absence to deal with whilst they’re doing this. In that time who’s keeping an eye on your IT system?
Training just simply doesn’t come into with an MSP. They are all, as you would expect, trained. Costs and everything else simple don’t come into it. You simply get to enjoy the outcome of their efforts.
When you’re running a smaller scale business, budgeting is incredibly important. Cashflow is key and unpredictable costs are to be avoided at all…costs.
As your relationship with an MSP will be based on that SLA we mentioned, you’ll know just how much it’s going to cost per month already.
Variables will pop up – but the beauty is any extra costs which aren’t covered by maintenance are likely to be services you’ve decided you’re willing to pay for – rather than having to pay for them to fix a critical problem. Surprise bills go out the window and you’re left with the comfort of knowing you’re paying a fair price for service you can rely on.