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To maintain a competitive edge in today’s digital economy, every business or organisation must be able to fulfill their own business IT needs.
For large enterprises, this usually means investing heavily into staffing and equipping an in-house IT team or department, which would be responsible for meeting all the IT needs of the enterprise.
However, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) might not have the necessary resources to hire and train enough IT personnel to build a full-staffed in-house IT function.
This means that to meet their business IT needs without busting their IT budget, SMEs like yours would need an alternative way to acquire IT capabilities.
Usually, that means turning to managed IT services that are provided by third-party managed service providers (MSPs).
Many of these services involve the MSP handling a wide range of network and infrastructure management duties, but some services focus on improving the cybersecurity infrastructure or your business, or provide IT support services upon demand.
We’ve put together several examples of managed IT services that MSPs can offer to SMEs like yours, along with real-life case studies of customers who have benefited from AFON's managed IT services.
WIth this guide as a reference, we hope you'll get a better idea of the many types of managed IT services that are available, to help you plug any gaps in the in-house IT capabilities of your business.
If your business is an SME with a limited budget for deploying the IT infrastructure needed to support its processes, an MSP's managed IT services could prove to be an affordable option for you.
In addition, if your in-house IT team is limited and has gaps in the core capabilities necessary to support all of your business's IT needs - such as cybersecurity, VoIP and backup and recovery - an MSP can provide the necessary expertise to fill these gaps.
However, there are a wide variety of managed IT services, each catering to all sorts of business IT needs.
This means that not all MSPs have the capability to provide every kind of managed IT service, and some may indeed specialise in a limited set of offerings.
Nevertheless, we hope this resource will inform you about the various types of managed IT services which are available on the market.
Through this, we hope it'll help you identify which of these managed IT services you should engage to fulfil the outstanding IT needs of your SME.
Before you can even get started with your business operations, you'll need to have the IT infrastructure necessary to support your processes deployed within your office premises as soon as possible.
However, your SME might not have the core capabilities needed for setting up said IT infrastructure in the first place.
In these cases, you could opt to engage the managed on-site infrastructure setup service from a third-party MSP.
With an on-site infrastructure setup service, an MSP will dispatch a team to your SME’s office premises, and set up the IT software and hardware that are necessary to facilitate your business operations.
These include local area networks (LAN), Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), and other types of connections that are fundamental to the business processes of a modern organisation.
As an example, a trading company needed a means of centralising their document management on a single platform to support their business processes.
AFON helped this customer resolve their need for a solution by implementing SharePoint, a collaborative platform from Microsoft which centralised the shared documents in their business in a secure, yet accessible manner.
With an on-site infrastructure setup service, the deployment of IT infrastructure in your office premises would go smoothly and quickly, and enable your SME to commence business operations as soon as possible.
Opting for a cloud-based IT infrastructure over an on-premises equivalent could be an excellent choice for your SME, as you can save on high initial capital expenditures (CAPEX).
To access them, you'd need to engage the services of a third-party MSP who offers managed cloud infrastructure services.
This involves them taking responsibility for all of your cloud-based computing, data storage, network and IT assets.
By engaging managed cloud infrastructure services with an MSP, you can leave the task of managing and maintaining your cloud assets to professionals with the relevant expertise in cloud computing.
This means your in-house IT team wouldn't have to spend resources and time to learn how to deploy and manage cloud infrastructure, and frees them to focus on the core value proposition of your SME.
Some MSPs may also offer other types of managed cloud infrastructure services. These include virtualization for apps, software or operating systems etc.
Engaging managed cloud infrastructure services from an MSP is also a quick way to enable remote working capabilities for your SME.
For example, a rapidly-growing software development company with work-from-home (WFH) arrangements for their entire workforce required all of their employees to use company-issued laptops for their work.
This meant that they needed a way to automatically enroll and deploy company-issued laptops to their employees, with centralised control of the business applications installed on them.
To achieve this, AFON assisted the software development company by deploying Microsoft InTune - a cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) solution.
With InTune, the client had the cloud-based IT infrastructure necessary to deliver company-issued laptops directly to the residences of their employees, with authorised applications, disk encryption, and data access policies automatically installed.
One of the most popular cloud platforms for businesses today is Microsoft Azure. To learn more about what it is and how implementing it can benefit your business, click the image below.
Certain third-party MSPs may be vendors and/or resellers for business software platforms on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.
This means you'd only need to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee to the MSP, and get access to the business software that you need for your business operations.
Such business software can include productivity suites such as Microsoft Office 365, collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams, or ERP software such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.
For example, a manufacturer suffered disruptions to their workflow and internal teamwork due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and needed a solution that can improve collaboration within its workforce as a result.
By implementing the Microsoft Teams SaaS collaboration platform for this customer, AFON resolved their workflow disruption issue by providing the teleconferencing, chat and other collaboration tools they need to maintain business continuity.
With a managed SaaS service, the MSP would be responsible for ensuring that all updates, security patches and upgrades are remotely downloaded and install once they become available.
This ensures that you'll always get the most up-to-date version of any SaaS product you're subscribing to, while not having to dedicate any resource or personnel from your in-house IT team to keep it updated.
Knowing that your SaaS systems are guaranteed to be secure, up to date and performing optimally also gives you the peace of mind which is important for a business, ensuring you can dedicate your SME's resources wholly towards value generation.
To find out more about how a managed SaaS product such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 for your business can boost your overall productivity, click the image below to download our resource.
Managed security is one of the most popular services offered by MSPs, as businesses and organisations of all sizes today are keenly aware of the dangers of cybersecurity threats to their IT infrastructure.
Outsourcing your SME’s IT security needs to an MSP can be a more cost-efficient option than investing in building security capabilities in-house, especially since this means you can direct your resources towards innovation and business growth instead.
A third-party MSP’s managed security services will involve the MSP identifying vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure, and creating a plan for addressing them with a range of security management and risk prevention services.
MSPs can also offer security awareness training as part of their managed data security services, to equip your workforce with the knowledge they need to protect themselves from external cybersecurity threats.
For example, after a trading company lost half a million to scammers through an email address spoofing scheme, they engaged AFON to provide security awareness training to their employees on how to prevent a future occurrence.
AFON further assisted this customer by strengthening their email security by implementing threshold limits, as well as providing email monitoring and support services.
Other managed data security services that MSPs may offer include:
In the worst-case scenarios, having backups of your critical business data is crucial for ensuring that your SME can recover from hardware failures or compromised systems.
Yet, ensuring regular backups of your data can take a significant amount of time and attention from your in-house IT function.
To ensure that your SME has the security of regular data backups without diverting too much resources or personnel, you can engage managed backup and recovery services from a third-party MSPs.
These services include scheduled automatic backups and audits to ensure proper storage of data, amongst others.
MSPs which offer managed backup and recovery services typically have dedicated personnel who bring specialised expertise in backup and recovery techniques to the table.
With these experts managing your backup and recovery procedures, you can be assured that your critical business data will be in safe hands.
And in worst-case scenarios such as systems failure or natural disasters, such managed backup and recovery services will ensure that your SME is able to return to normal business operations in a timely manner.
As an example, a business in the oil & gas industry suffered a ransomware attack which caused significant damage to their network and infrastructure.
This was partially because the business had no protections in place for their servers and workstations, and had no firewalls in place for their network as well. On top of that, their on-site backup had also been compromised by the attack.
To protect themselves against a future attack, the oil & gas company engaged AFON to beef up their network security, as well as provide robust managed backup and recovery services.
AFON implemented an off-site backup to safeguard the critical business data of the customer, on top of other services which improved the security of their IT infrastructure as a whole.
During normal business operations, your employees are inevitably going to face issues with the software or hardware they use on a day-to-day basis.
Resolving these issues are part of the duties of an in-house IT function, but you can also engage managed IT support services from a third-party MSP to cover this business need.
With managed IT support services, your employees can call into a remote help centre operated by the MSP, for assistance with any IT issue they may encounter.
It also means that you won’t have to incur the higher costs of maintaining an in-house IT function simply to provide IT support, or alternatively free your existing IT team to support the growth strategy of your SME instead of burdening them with IT support tasks.
As you've seen from our overview of managed IT services available on the market today, there is no business IT need that a third-party MSP can't fulfill.
Whether you're trying to reduce your IT-related costs or to free your in-house team to support your core business, engaging an MSP for their managed IT services is a viable option for you.
We hope that you've found this overview of managed IT services useful. If you're keen on outsourcing your IT needs, do consider the services of our certified IT professionals.
.At AFON, we invest heavily in keeping our IT expertise and knowledge up-to-date with current industry best practices, and would be happy to schedule a free consultation with you today.
Do get in contact with us, and let us show you what we can do to help you get the most out of your IT assets!