The traditional model for IT services and infrastructure was to take care of all such needs in-house and this necessitated creating an IT department large enough to handle the installation, management, administration, and ongoing maintenance of both hardware and software products. Because IT is a diverse and fast-changing field, it also meant regular rounds of updates and upgrades, each of which might mean that IT department staffers would need to be trained anew in order to meet the challenges posed by new software and hardware.
This model had obvious drawbacks, but until the widespread adoption of the internet, it was unclear how to address them best. The advent of the online age, however, has changed the business-computing environment in profound ways. In particular, it became possible to leverage the power of the internet in ways that allows remote IT companies to provide a suite of software and hardware support that has come to be termed managed services.
This umbrella term refers to a wide variety of ways in which a business can rely on outsourced IT rather than managing its IT needs using in-house staff. Features that can be provided through a managed services model include such diverse aspects of IT as firewalls, call centers, network management, VoiP (voice over internet protocol, a form of internet telephony), and virtual private networks. Managed service providers can also assist companies to use IT advances such as video networking, unified communications, and web hosting applications.
Businesses that adopt a managed services model typically experience an increase in efficiency and a decrease in costs.