1 outsourcing is not a bad word 6 Reasons to Outsource Your IT
2 Things Change. 1 What s there to manage? When it comes to your network, change management is the number one technology challenge for every organization. End-users come and go, devices come and go and employees work on-the-go. How you manage your technology needs within an ever-changing network environment will directly impact your company s efficiency, profitability and ultimate success. Mobile Remote Employees What s changing? Network maintenance requirements for controls that include a combination of routers, switches, load balancers, firewalls and storage. s are constantly flowing in and out requiring security, encryption and server management. BYOD (bring your own device) includes employee-owned and office guests laptops, ipads, Surface tablets, Smartphones, jump drives etc. connecting and accessing your internal network on a daily basis. Servers, virtual servers and workstations require anti-virus scanning, OS patches, updates, backup, file server, application servers, active directory and print server management. End-user setup and termination is part of managing and/or adding remote offices, supporting remote employees and mobile staff securely and efficiently demands best-in-class tools and procedures. Asset Track $ Apps CRM Servers/ Desktops Network Controls Portable Devices Satellite Offices So the first reason for outsourcing is to more efficiently manage your ever-changing IT network environment to be highly available and securely accessible. Next up? Jump starting on-hold projects.
3 2 Project On Hold. How can outsourcing help? Scenario 1: Microsoft has released a new Office Suite. Its upgrade description boasts features that would improve your business productivity but you would have to buy 25 copies for the whole office. That would cost upwards of $12,000. Project on hold. Scenario 2: You are looking at a new business application that requires Windows After reviewing your current hardware you determine that you will also need new servers to support this software and the newer Microsoft operating system but you have no way to test the software before rolling it out to your users with a goal of no downtime and you have no capital budget allocated for the server need. Project on hold. Scenario 3: Build a secondary site for disaster recovery. You want to insure that your business can continue to operate should a disaster strike. You have a good continuity plan for a hardware malfunction and you might even have remote backup, but you need a plan to recover should your physical office building be destroyed. As you investigate costs for a failover site but you realize that it might cost as much, if not more as your current production systems and leaves your organization managing the costs of maintaining and upgrading two infrastructures. Achieving a redundant site generally requires redundant hardware. Beyond the costs of the hardware there are additional costs for bandwidth and support that have to be factored in to maintaining a hot site for your mission critical systems. Another key concern is your staffing during an unplanned outage. It is quite possible that your existing IT staff might be impacted by the trigger event and therefore unavailable when restoration is required. Another thing to consider is that any upgrade you do in your production environment must be mirrored in the failover site. Project on hold. Your cloud-based service gives you usage rights to Microsoft Office. Users have rights to the most current version available (or downgrade rights to previous versions to insure application compatibility with your other critical systems). As new versions of Office are released, the end-user can upgrade to that version as part of the existing monthly cost. No need to budget cash for an upcoming Microsoft upgrade. Project is a go. You can upgrade your server and migrate with ease. Naturally you want be able to install the new application and test it before giving it to your users. For a minimal cost you can run the two servers in parallel by subscribing to a second server with the Windows 2012 operating system your software needs without retiring your existing server. Run these two servers for a day, a month, a year Once you re comfortable that your new application is ready for production you can retire the original server allowing you to shed that cost. Since a cloud-based service is more elastic by nature you can expand and contract those services as your business requirements change. Project is a go. Your cloud-based services will provide you with computing resources and continuously encrypted, secure backup of your data readily available for restoration during an unplanned outage. In addition to having the right services in place a managed solution allows you to leverage IT staff dedicated to restoring your environment. Typical Service Level Agreements (SLA) specify Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) so you ll have confidence in your recovery timeline. This is all done for a monthly fee without any new hardware being purchased or needing to be refreshed when you upgrade your local site. Project is a go. So next time you need to do an upgrade consider the cloud to keep moving forward. Next up? IT Rock Star.
4 3 The IT Rock Star. What are the benefits? Having a firm that is engaged with you on a daily basis, even when things are running smoothly, translates to more efficient and proactive services by an integrated team with a working knowledge of your IT environment. So you hired an IT guy. He s a great kid and a wiz with computers. In the office he s considered an IT Rock star! Your staff loves him! He does a great job of keeping your network healthy, all anti-virus is up-to-date and most machines are current on patches. Even your backup appears to be successful every night. Overall, your network s running fine until... The server goes down and blue screens on reboot...or He goes on vacation, and the system acts up...or Business needs change and you ask for a plan to adapt... Now what? The image above depicts the norm. Hired resources can generally satisfy the majority of IT tasks that the company requires, but inevitably there are gaps in their IT know-how. To their credit, they probably have other skills that will never be tapped by your organization. Ultimately, you need a Plan B to fill the skill set gaps and help to manage the workload. It's important to engage a true IT partner to outsource portions of your IT requirements to a managed service provider (MSP). Utilizing 24 x 7 x 365 monitoring technology, an MSP s network operations center (NOC) tracks, notifies and logs incidents as specified by your contracted needs. Current asset inventory maintained by your MSP allows them to respond quickly and precisely when issue arise. Support escalation point for your IT Rock Star when a problem exceeds his knowledge base. Depth of resources. Productivity is lost and stress mounts when problems cannot be resolved quickly. By engaging an MSP your company will have the depth of resources equal to that of many Fortune 500 IT departments at a predictable fraction of the cost. Behind every great Rock star is a team of experts to help him perform and shine. Your IT Rock Star needs that support too! Next up? Scalability.
5 4 Need-based buying. What do you gain from leveraging the cloud? Managed Service Provider (MSP) support models have allowed traditional businesses the ability to be more fluid in down economic times and poised to expand quickly as the economy rebounds. It allows companies to invest in what they need today and expand or contract on-demand as the needs of their business changes. Let s start with the infrastructure. Even if you have an IT staff you don t necessarily need to host your own IT infrastructure. One of the first things you can do to have a more scalable IT delivery model is to move application services to the cloud. was one of the original cloud applications until someone decided it would be better to host onsite. If you are a business owner or responsible for your company s IT budget, you know hosting your own is not cheap. This is the easiest application to push back to the cloud. Most of today s mission critical applications (CRM, Finance, ERP, etc.) are being developed as web-based applications. Many companies have already opened secure access (SSL or VPN) to those applications for remote and mobile employees. In essence they've become their own private cloud providers. With so many companies already making applications hosted at the office accessible to remote employees, why wouldn t you host more in the cloud and take advantage of increased resource scalability? Ramp up services quickly or dial 'em down as need be. Outsourcing IT is one way of insuring that your company is fluid and adaptable to the forces that drive your business. A Zip Tie vs. An Elastic: An elastic band can expand and contract based on what needs to be held inside it. But a zip tie? Have you ever tried to expand a zip tie? Good luck. Traditional networks are like zip ties. Steadfast? Yes. Accessible? That depends. Scalable? Not so much. "Zip tie" networks reach a point when servers can t be expanded and systems can no longer support newer versions of operating systems and application software. So it's out with the old and in with the new. This can be costly, both in time and money. On the other hand, networks that successfully leverage cloud technology are like rubber bands. Reliable? Yes. Accessible? Yep! Scalable? You betcha! An elastic network implies the ability to expand and contract services, CPUs, memory, RAM and storage as required. Outsourcing to the cloud enables: Expansion of resources without requiring new hardware. Reduction of resources to reduce cost in down periods. Spinning up virtual test environments for a finite duration while applying upgrades in parallel to production systems. Reduction of future capital expenditures by eliminating server hardware costs. Software upgrades for operating systems, productivity suites, and applications as part of the service offering. Pay only for what you need today. Easily scale services to meet the business demands of tomorrow. Next up? Secure Accessibility.
6 Accessibility. 5 What becomes more accessible with a managed service? One of the key benefits to outsourcing your IT to a cloud-based managed solution is the accessibility to your data via an Internet connection anywhere, anytime. Remote access has been a component of traditional networks for years but what many people don't realize is how much labor and expense goes into granting that access. A managed service simplifies the process. The first technology to provide remote access was Virtual Private Networks (VPN) which allowed for retrieving s and files through a secure connection. VPN technology was great in it s time but proved to be a slow solution for transmitting data from a PC to the host environment. Additionally, VPN s required IT assistance for configuring and troubleshooting any connection issues broadening the IT support burden. With the introduction of Terminal Services (or its bigger brother Citrix Presentation Server) as a remote access medium remote connection to an emulated desktop gives end-users access to , data, and business applications. This technology is simpler than a VPN connection and provides the end-user with a rich computing environment in which to operate. End-users access these environments via a desktop client or via a web URL. Terminal services reduces much of the IT support requirements by enhancing the way users connect remotely. These platforms also simplified the process of updating applications or rolling out new services by centralizing it to a single server or server farm. With this updated architecture, changes initiated in one spot can be accessible to all. A challenge of increased accessibility is the additional server maintenance, including application compatibility concerns and licensing headaches. Since much of the remote access can be attributed to offhours work, IT support is now needed beyond a typical 9 to 5 business day. Your systems: By moving to managed services you gain access to redundancies that are not commonly found in most businesses. The provider s datacenter should have redundant bandwidth, power, cooling, and network services. As a result a user should see little or no downtime, increasing both productivity and availability of mission critical applications and data. Because all access is done via the web, users can have the same user experience in the office, at home, on a cruise, or anywhere where there is an internet connection. IT support: The service provider should have stated Service Level Agreements (SLA) with you. This SLA should define the allowable downtime percentages (monthly/annually), change control process, and financial penalties for not hitting these objectives. When a problem arises the provider should have a team of IT professionals available to you and provide a resource with skills equal to the problem at hand. Support should not be more than a phone call away. Business strategy: This also makes your existing IT staff available to focus on the strategic initiatives of your company instead of firefighting. This increases their accessibility to support the business goals of a company through expanded technology. This can include working with the Executive team in developing a technology roadmap, investigating technologies to meet business issues, and identify key areas of improvement. Outsourcing to the cloud is the way to increase secure access to your IT services. Next up? Availability.
7 6 Availability. The network is down! Four words that strike fear in the hearts of business owners. Loss of productivity is a huge concern of any business, large or small. Every minute without system access costs companies real dollars. That s why system availability is so important. So can outsourcing IT stop downtime? Unfortunately there s no way to insure against downtime when mechanical parts are involved. But, with a cloud-delivered managed IT service you can reduce your risk of downtime and maximize availability of network services. How is downtime prevented? Cloud-based service providers build their services to scale with a maximum amount of fault tolerance to serve hundreds (maybe thousands) of customers on their computing platform. The provider attracts potential clients by providing services that most companies cannot afford to build for themselves. Similar to a high-end co-op living arrangement; all owners benefit from communal resources that maintain their standard of living at a fraction of the price it would cost to sustain the services individually. Everybody wins. An outsourced IT service can provide you with maximum availability to your data from anywhere, anytime. A complete managed services solution costs a fraction of the price of purchasing hardware and software that would be required as well as the expense of support personnel to operate and maintain those services. Outsourcing to a cloud-based solution not only increases system availability but also makes better financial sense. Cloud-based managed IT solutions include all system administration services and access to the service provider helpdesk as part of a fixed monthly fee support contract. Get access to the skill sets you need to match the challenge you re facing with a qualified professional at the ready. What shared resources are needed to prevent downtime? Redundant Bandwidth: Multiple Internet service providers are crucial for facilities to deliver redundant bandwidth availability. Internet circuits are engineered to failover in the event of any one provider experiencing an outage for seamless service at all times. Redundant Power: The best cloud-based providers have multiple uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) and diesel generators to support services in the event of a localized power outage. These systems are automated to take over in the event of a utility service power loss. Redundant Cooling: Most Small to Mid-sized businesses house their servers in closets, under desks, or in data rooms which are often unventilated and overheated areas of the office. Improper cooling is one of the most frequent contributors to server failures. An outsourced provider not only has enough cooling to keep the servers running, but will also have a redundant system at the ready in the event of mechanical failure. Redundant Infrastructure: Because the provider is building an infrastructure to support hundreds or thousands of clients, availability of those systems is a key component to their success. Cloud service providers invest heavily in redundant and current hardware and software solutions to support the services they provide. As a customer, you benefit an enterprise class IT facility for a fraction of the cost of building and managing your own. Outsourcing provides enterprise-level resources to manage delivery of highly available systems. Next step? Request a technology assessment.
8 * Why Outsource. 1. Ever-Changing Network. 2. Project Momentum. 3. IT Rock Star. 4. Need-based Buying. 5. Secure Accessibility. 6. High Availability. What now? Download our ebook on smart IT purchasing for a comparison of leading IT outsourcing service trends and what they ll really cost or save your business.
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