Cisco Blogs

Are Managed Services Right for Your Small Business

- December 16, 2010 - 1 Comment

Guest Post by Contributing Author Ken Presti

These services can come from a wide range of providers, including hosting companies, access providers, and channel partners who specialize in these kinds of offerings. A wide range of technologies can be involved, including virtual private networks (VPNs) or firewalls for security; IP telephony, which replaces the more traditional phone service; remote monitoring; messaging; and call center, just to name a few.

In other words, whatever you buy as a managed service comes in the form of a specific functionality. The means of delivering that function is chosen by the provider, not by you. So if you have a specific preference for how the particular service is delivered, you would need to choose a provider that sees things the same way. Beyond that, the technology decision-making process is no longer your concern, and you can go back to focusing on your business. That’s not a bad thing if managing technology is not the way that you prefer to spend your time.

Prices for managed services can be widely variable, based on the kinds of services that you are using, and the level of attention that you require when things go wrong. And yes, like anything else in the technology world, there will be times when a managed service will hiccup. Usually, it’s something that the provider will be able to fix remotely. In fact, their entire cost structure is based on the premise that they will be able to keep truck rolls to a minimum. Nonetheless, you’ll have to choose a “service level agreement” that dictates how quickly you are entitled to get their attention.

If you want them to jump when you say, “jump”, you can get that kind of attention, Mr. Moneybags! But it will take several bags of that money to get such a high level of service. For the rest of us with budgets (i.e. those of us who breathe), there are a lot of other response options ranging from a few hours to a few days. And of course, the more willing you are to be shunted aside for other customers, the lower your cost of service will be.

The choice of whether to adopt managed services is not necessarily an easy one. Whether or not it will save money depends on your circumstances, so the bean counters will have a lot to say in this decision because there are numbers to be crunched! There may also be regulatory restrictions that dictate the degree to which this model can be an option. And plus I’m a firm believer that “gut-check” plays a significant role in making the decision. A large part of it is a decision about where to place your trust. If there are people on your team who are slam-dunk technologists and your overhead is in line, then it will probably be hard to pull the trigger on a managed services contract. If, on the other hand, IT glitches lead to panicked expressions and unconvincing assertions that everything is going to be okay, then managed services may be the right thing for your company.

Ken Presti has extensive experience in channel program analysis and development.  He is the founder of Presti Research.  His company  focuses on channel and go-to-market programs and strategies in order to help our clients build successful and profitable partnerships with compatible companies.

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