Managed service providers

What You Need to Know About Managed Service Providers

April 10, 2017


Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are a great alternative to dealing with your own IT department. MSPs have better equipped personnel, the latest in technological advances for hardware and software services, and have the ability to fix possible issues before they occur. MSPs are in the business of running networks through the cloud. Like any business, there are bad MSPs, good ones, and the great ones. Keep reading to find out more about MSPs, what they have to offer, and how to select a great one for your business.

Managed Service Providers Defined

Managed service providers take care of all your IT needs. Once upon a time, companies would wait for something in their network to break and then call someone to fix it. MSPs are those people who fix everything for you, but on steroids. The mentality has changed on how we want service. Instead of waiting till it breaks, MSPs have analytical tools that monitor your network.

Through various intelligent alerts, codes, and other monitoring tools the provider can determine weak points in the network before it breaks. This allows them to fix the problem before anything is broken – which means, you may never know that a problem existed at all. The biggest advantage to this is there is no extra cost. You pay a monthly fee, and your provider takes care of the rest.

Why You Need a MSP

Imagine your IT department. When you walk into the IT area you may have desks filled with employees, and a separate server room which houses all your data. Now picture going into that same area and it is empty, but you are still getting the same amount of work done, and probably more efficiently. MSPs keep running 24 hours a day, which means your network stays running 24 hours a day. If a client tries to gain access to your customer portal and cannot gain access, then there is nothing you can do until your IT team shows up the next day. With an MSP there is a good chance they will have it fixed before you show up for work the next day. You will receive a report stating what happened the night before and how it was handled, and your part is finished.

An MSP can set different levels of security based on your needs. They can also set up your Internet of Things (IoT) devices with no further hassles (this is what they do for a living). As new application updates come out the MSP will send you information on the updates and let you know the advantages of doing the upgrade, and how the upgrade will affect your business model. Learn more:

MSPs perform backups and can help you create a disaster recovery plan for your company. They have dual authentication security to ensure your mobile devices don’t get hacked, and in the rare occasion an employee loses a mobile device, the MSP can make sure information is encrypted so the thieves cannot access your data.

The Monitoring Advantage

Managed service providers have specific monitoring tools to make sure your network is running at the right parameters at all times. These monitoring tools are part of the evolving United Communication & Collaboration (UC& C) service offered to enterprise-sized companies. Unified communications is the real-time integration of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), video conferencing, and live streaming within an office environment.

This form of monitoring not only checks your servers to make sure they are working efficiently, but policies can be put in place to verify signal strength through phone lines, the integrity of streaming video, and keep track of the user experience. Users within the company can be monitored to verify they are following procedures and they are not putting the company at risk by clicking on unknown email links or visiting restricted sites.

How to Find the Right Managed Service Provider for your Company

Managed service providers come in all shapes and sizes. The key is to find the right MSP that fits your needs. If you are part of a specialized field, such as attorneys, hospital administrators, or accountants then there are rules you have to follow to keep your data safe. There are some providers, like TOSS C3 that can work with all the clients mentioned above but many do not have the right credentials to do so. The following is a short list (Subscribe to the TOSS C3 blog for a more defined list) of questions you should ask a potential MSP before considering using their services:

  • What is your experience in…? – You would add to this question your field of work. If you work in the insurance field then that is what you would ask about. As noted above, TOSS C3 has experience in several industries. Some providers do, but some will only claim they do without the proof to back the claim up. Some providers feel that a network is pretty much the same regardless of the company, but this is not true. Certain regulations, like HIPAA, are a requirement for MSPs if they are going to handle your data. There may also be some state laws in place that requires data to be handled offsite or to be located at multiple data centers to provide extra protection to the client. So make sure your MSP has experience in YOUR field. Ask them to provide names of other companies in the field they have worked for. Find out how many years they have been in business. Ask the questions. If you do not like the answers then move to another provider.
  • What are your mobility options? – This is a good one to ask even if you do not plan on using mobile devices because one day you might. Mobile devices can be simple laptops, tablets or smartphones, but it can also include wearables or wireless medical technologies. If you plan to have the ability to access your network when you are not in the office then you will want to know if they have a secure access portal to your network.
  • Will you put it in writing? – When talking to a managed service provider there is a chance that they may make verbal promises that may go slightly askew later down the road. This is not saying the provider is being sneaky, but you may have understood it differently, or maybe they did not understand what your actual need is. Make sure everything talked about is placed into the Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Managed service providers can offer your business a new world to explore. The newest technologies in hardware and software are just the beginning. Benefits range from lower IT costs to more secure data storage and recovery to a better managed end user environment. Get a free assessment today and see how TOSS C3 can take your company to the next level.

 

 




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