When it comes to IT managed services, there’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’. Your internal IT resource, knowledge and capabilities are all unique to your organisation. They’re what shape your requirements and, in turn, dictate what you demand from your Managed Service Provider.
‘Out of the box’ and ‘off the shelf’ are both terms we’re all familiar with. The idea of standardisation, the creation of something which will cost-effectively meet the needs of most organisations, has a definite appeal. However, for many organisations, service or proposition standardisation often means compromise.
When it comes to IT managed services, the needs of one organisation rarely match those of another. The size of your in-house IT team, their skillset, your choice (and use) of technology and your future objectives will all contribute to a unique environment.
No matter the size or shape of your organisation, you will need to engage with service providers to facilitate some of your infrastructure; be this storage and compute, WAN and LAN management, telecoms and connectivity or the many other services you rely on to keep your organisation operational and its staff productive.
This presents you with an opportunity to work with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) that complements your internal resource; filling the gaps in technology, knowledge and skills while allowing your team to focus on delivering projects and driving digital transformation.
What does ‘managed service’ mean to you?
An IT managed service means different things to different people. For larger organisations, those with a greater in-house resource, managed services could be one-time, project-based engagements. Most will have teams large enough to take on the day-to-day infrastructure management, only relying on service providers for technology-specific implementations or external validation of systems compliance or performance.
At the other end of the spectrum, smaller organisations (or highly specialised service providers) may not have the capacity to retain any technical resource in-house. If this is the case, they will need to rely heavily on their MSP to provide an end-to-end managed service that includes systems design, implementation, integration, management and review.
For most organisations, the split between in-house and service provider resource will be somewhere in between. Elements of implementation and administration will vary from business to business. Moreover, with digital transformation driving services that have traditionally been on-premises into the cloud, organisations must simultaneously facilitate change whist developing the ‘know how’ to manage it. This is where your MSP can add value.
Finger on the pulse: The 2020 IT landscape
Both IT managers and service providers must keep an eye on the technology trends that will shape the IT landscape. According to Spicework’s recently published 2020 State of IT report (keen readers will note that we spoke about the 2019 report in our earlier blog), 88% of businesses expect IT budgets to either grow or remain stable in 2020. Like the 2019 report, this is predominantly driven by the need to upgrade outdated infrastructure.
Budget allocation to hosted/cloud-based services and managed services has increased slightly to 37% (35% in the 2019 report), showing the continued emphasis organisations are placing on such services.
Productivity solutions, online back-up/recovery and email hosting are areas of investment in the cloud marketplace, while managed hosting, managed hardware support and managed storage/back-up are driving managed service investment.
Is SD-WAN the answer?
It has become an accepted “new normal” that the breadth of IT solutions deployed in an organisation (and the expectation of a quicker rate of adoption) is here to stay and will continue to put a strain on finite and thinly spread IT resources.
SD-WAN solutions have become a particular interest to organisations because of their ability to simplify network and infrastructure management. According to IDC, the SD-WAN infrastructure marketplace will grow at a 30.8% compound annual rate between 2018 and 2023, by which time its poised to reach $5.25 billion in value.
While this is a relative ‘drop in the ocean’ in the context of global ICT spending, which is set to hit $4.8 trillion in 2023, its rapid growth does signal the technology’s importance as more organisations turn to it to manage their ever-growing WAN (global ICT’s compound annual growth rate is 3.8% in the same period).
As an emerging technology, internal IT departments are faced with a familiar challenge. Recognising the benefits of SD-WAN, they must decide between leveraging external expertise or increasing internal headcount and overhead to provide the service. Many will be turning to service providers to fulfil this requirement.
A tailored approach is key
In the face of a rapidly evolving landscape, where users’ demands on technology are greater than ever, IT teams are finding a new balance between what they handle in-house and what they outsource.
When choosing your provider, you should look beyond their SLAs. Make sure that you are satisfied they have devoted enough time and care to thoroughly understand your resource needs. They should also have the ability to collaborate with you on your roadmap, so you can accurately plan budgetary and resource requirements.
Your prospective partner should also be knowledgeable of both legacy and emerging technologies. This allows you to pick the right tech at the right time as you move towards a hybrid infrastructure, or adopt a cloud-first approach whilst being insulated from the risks of early adoption.
Before committing to any MSP, ensure they demonstrate their ability to become a positive extension of your IT team, with a documented understanding of the unique skills and resource gaps that you require them to fulfil.
When implemented correctly, such a tailored approach by an MSP will help you accelerate adoption of new technologies, drive greater efficiency across the IT function and keep pace with your changing needs.
Find out more about how to choose the right Managed Service provider, and to see if SD-WAN is for you, by downloading our Best Practice Guides.