Much has been said of the power of managed services to lower costs dramatically while increasing both IT efficiency and worker productivity, but some business leaders may still have only a hazy idea of what the term actually means in practice. Managed services allow companies to outsource some or all of their IT support needs to an outside firm commonly referred to as a managed services provider or MSP.
Once an agreement has been reached with an MSP that outlines the scope of their responsibility as well as the payment terms for the service, the MSP will take over such IT functions as monitoring the network and systems, managing configuration changes and other needs, and resolving problems that develop in the provider's area of responsibility. The range of services that an MSP can offer is quite vast. An MSP may offer data backup and disaster recovery services as well as security provisions for all device types including servers, clients, peripherals, and portable devices that wirelessly attach to the network.
Managed services are most often priced on a subscription model. This can be ideal for many businesses where cash flow is a concern. Instead of paying in advance for expensive software programs that will be used over the course of many years, an MSP can be paid an ongoing fee that includes the provision of needed software from month to month. This approach can help businesses to ‘level out’ their IT expenses, making them far more predictable from one month to the next.