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What is a MSP?

managedservices

Should Your Company Outsource IT?

IT service providers deliver the technical expertise small businesses need at a much lower cost than hiring IT staff. They can recommend, install, and manage technology according to business’ objectives and core competencies and ensure that critical data is safe. That’s why nearly 70% of U.S. small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) work with an IT service provider for some or all of their IT needs. There are many considerations for SMBs thinking about moving their IT to another company. In this post, we’ve summed up the key factors to help you decide what’s best for your company. Let’s get started!

What is a MSP?

A MSP, or managed service provider, is an IT service professional to which SMBs outsource their IT needs. MSPs are the guardians of IT, delivering ongoing monitoring and management of client applications (email, web site, security, etc.) and IT infrastructure remotely. This is typically accomplished through remote monitoring services, which allows them to keep tabs on the health of their clients’ IT environments, change and update systems, and troubleshoot problems. MSPs closely monitor a wide variety of IT solutions a business has implemented, including web apps, desktop and server management software, backup and disaster recovery, storage management tools and security software. Small businesses outsource IT to ensure all their business systems, operations and networks remain up and running. Managed service providers take a proactive approach to IT. Rather than waiting for something to break or shut down, MSPs ensure a customer’s IT can avoid most tech issues in the first place. This is huge, because IT related downtime can have a devastating impact on revenue and reputation—especially for smaller businesses trying to grow.

SMB Managed Service Consumption

A recent survey by B2B research firm Clutch showed that 69% of U.S. SMBs use at least one IT service provider, regardless of company size. 63% of respondents indicated they also have dedicated, in-house IT staff. However, this percentage was much lower among SMBs with 10 or fewer employees—only 31% of that group have in-house IT staff.

MSPs typically deliver services on a subscription basis; companies pay a fixed amount, usually monthly, for a specific set of IT services. Some common examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Application monitoring and management
  • Helpdesk
  • E-mail
  • Security
  • Storage
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery

These services are typically offered either as packaged services, or a la carte, depending on the needs of the SMB. They are also often priced at a fraction of the cost of a full time IT resource. MSPs work with a variety of technology vendors in order to deliver these services. However, it’s not just about the technology. Rather, the expertise of the service provider holds the most value for SMBs.

Why SMBs adopt managed services

Moving all or some IT tasks to a managed service allows businesses to focus on their core competencies instead of day-to-day IT management. This is especially important for SMBs, since they are frequently stretched thin from a personnel and budget standpoint. Obviously, the specific reasons SMBs adopt managed services depend on the unique needs of the organization. For example, the IT needs of a five-person company with no in-house IT will be quite different from those of a one-hundred-person company with a dedicated IT team. However, generally speaking, businesses adopt managed services to improve upon all or some aspect of their IT strategy or infrastructure. How this occurs will largely depend on the in-house IT expertise of a given business. According to IT industry trade association CompTIA, the top reason SMBs adopt managed services today is to “improve efficiency/ reliability of IT operations” (51%). But, context is important. For a very small business, “improve efficiency/reliability of IT operations” might mean implementing and managing the IT infrastructure. At the other end of the spectrum, it might mean outsourcing some routine tasks so in-house staff can focus on higher-level technical challenges. And, 31% of respondents said that they opted to work with a service provider to “free IT staff to work on strategic projects.” MSPs can provide different levels of support to meet the technology requirements of different businesses.

Many businesses choose to work with IT providers because they have expertise in a specific area of IT. For example, 38% of respondents in CompTIA’s survey said that they adopted managed services for “enhanced security/compliance.” This is likely due to the fact that ransomware attacks and security breaches are constantly in the news, but it highlights the fact that MSPs have deep technical knowledge in specific disciplines of IT. Also, the ongoing monitoring and software management MSPs provide is particularly important, because keeping software patched and up to date is essential to protect against security breaches. Also, working with an IT provider allows businesses to offload tasks that are difficult and/or time consuming. That’s one of the reasons that managed data protection services are so popular today. Protecting company data through backup and restore has long been a pain point for companies of all sizes; MSPs can ensure the SMB company data is fully protected from malicious or inadvertent actions, reducing business risk by putting complex tasks in the hands of experts. MSPs can also initiate new projects and implement new technologies quickly. They have the resources and flexibility to get projects off the ground which might take weeks or months in-house. Implementing new technology with your existing environment can be complicated and time consuming. Because MSPs work with a wide variety of clients with different IT needs, they are uniquely equipped to take on complex IT projects. They also have vast experience troubleshooting the products they use— allowing them to resolve problems quickly. Depending on the company, cost savings may also be a factor— especially among smaller SMBs with straightforward IT needs. Monthly fees for managed services will vary depending on services delivered. But, managed services are generally more cost effective than hiring in-house IT staff for smaller businesses. According to Kaseya’s 2016 MSP Global Pricing Survey, 34% of respondents pay under $1,000 a month for managed services ($12,000 per year)—a fraction of the yearly salary of an IT professional in the U.S. An additional 35% said they pay between $1,001 and $2,500.

Larger companies with internal IT can also recognize cost savings from IT managed services. However, cost saving isn’t the primary driver for managed services adoption among larger companies. According to CompTIA, larger SMBs are more likely to contract with MSPs for strategic reasons.

A “hybrid” IT department

North Pacific Seafood’s does just that, according to systems and network administrator Eric Parker. North Pacific contracts with Datto partner Blackpoint IT for a variety of services, including data protection and they have a close-knit relationship. “We consider Blackpoint to be a subsidiary of our IT department,” he said. The Seattle-based company owns and operates five seafood processing plants in Alaska. There are about 50 full-time employees located in the Seattle office including a four-person IT team, with a large number of seasonal employees at the Alaska locations. North Pacific has a complex IT environment spread across all of their sites. For data protection, Blackpoint IT uses Datto devices at each location. Data is backed up locally and replicated to the Datto Cloud. In the event of an outage at any one of the sites, North Pacific can run operations from the cloud, dramatically reducing downtime. This combination of technology and service has “saved our bacon a couple of times,” according to Parker. The company also helped design North Pacific’s Wi-Fi network and is responsible for email hosting and Microsoft licensing. Beyond those services, North Pacific also relies on Blackpoint IT for maintenance and troubleshooting in Seattle when the in-house IT team is in Alaska. “They are familiar with our environment so they can cover our IT whenever necessary,” said Parker. “They have remote, secure access to our network and all of our documentation, so they can access systems when we are unavailable. This hybrid approach has worked really well for us—it’s great to have the outside team to rely on when you are occupied with other things.” North Pacific utilizes Blackpoint’s IT consulting services, as well. “With Wi-Fi, for example, they helped us choose the appropriate hardware,” said Parker. “Often times IT departments don’t have the time to do research and put together plans for deploying new technologies, so it can be very helpful to have an expert outside perspective. Blackpoint IT works with tons of companies, so they know the options and what has worked in similar situations.”
Many IT managed services, comprise a shop serving a variety of smaller businesses—the local retailer or dentist office, for example. In this model, the client relies on the IT provider for all IT services. Other managed services provide more of a collaborative solution, just like Blackpoint IT and North Pacific. There are many service providers out there, so SMBs actively seeking help with their IT are sure to find the right one for their needs in their vicinity.

Conclusion

There are a variety of reasons that SMBs need help from third party IT firms. IT skill and expense tops the list for smaller businesses. Very small companies stand to reduce IT costs while getting the IT expertise they need by partnering with a service provider. Larger businesses typically work with IT providers to offload a number of difficult or time-consuming tasks, allowing their internal IT staff to focus on mission-critical activities. The ongoing infrastructure monitoring that managed service providers deliver can help SMBs avoid IT issues, data loss and downtime. Small business IT teams face budget and time constraints that make it difficult to deliver the level of monitoring an MSP can. This may be the most important benefit of working with an MSP, because IT downtime can completely derail a small business. If you’ve never considered an IT managed service offering and are trying to manage your own IT, it’s worth being aware of this cost effective way to have your IT burden lifted. If you are working with an IT provider on a project basis, it is worth investigating whether they offer managed services as well. Or, if your current IT team is running ragged, perhaps you can offload some difficult IT tasks. MSPs can help keep you focused, and keep you safe!
DTS InfoTech Can Help

Most small businesses do not have the technical resources to manage their own technology. If this describes you, we can help! If you would like more information please give us a call, we’re always happy to chat and the call is free.

Dedicated to your success,
Wally Moore
General Manager and Compliance Officer
dts|infotech . . . computer networks that work
503.359.1275
www.dtsinfotech.com

 

Hackers Targeting Small Businesses: Now they’re after the rest of us!

Tulips“We’ve been hacked.” There is a must read article for all small businesses. It’s about electronic hackers and a small business in Chicago that was successfully hacked. The authors are Geoffrey A. Fowler and Ben Worthen. The title of the article is: Hackers Shift Attacks to Small Firms. The article appeared in the Wall Street Journal on July 21, 2011.

The authors quote Dean Kinsman, a special agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cyber Division. Kinsman says that hacking at small businesses “is a prolific problem,” and that “It’s going to get much worse before it gets better.”

Imagine this: It’s just another day at your small business. You take a credit card from a customer standing in front of you. You run the card just like you always do and begin a standard transaction. The credit card is sent from the reader over the Internet to the processor. But unbeknownst to you, or your customer, before the transaction arrives at the processor for approval, a software program intercepts your customer’s data (known as a data breach) and a copy of the entire transaction is sent to a server in Russia and to a Yahoo! Email address. But in normal split second timing, the transaction is approved, just like always. You say, “Thank you!” to your customer and both of you go about your day.

Your small business has just been hacked. Your customer’s data has just been hijacked. A cybercrime has just been committed. But you don’t know anything about it. How would you? It was a normal transaction. And you might not find out about it for a year. And your small business may be liable for damages.

Hacking is not new. We hear the term all the time. So like the rest of the news, we’ve become numb to it. But for small businesses this is different. This well-researched article is scary. I sent it to some business associates of mine to warn them. Two of them contacted me almost immediately to schedule an appointment with our company because of this article. They’re scared that their business computers could be hacked. They have good reason to be scared. All of us who are employed by a small business should be scared. Why?

Hackers have turned their attention to the low hanging fruit in the cyber world. Fruit that is best described as weak security. Most small business don’t have dedicated IT Professionals on staff because they can’t afford it. So . . . in some small businesses their security is weak and the criminals know that. Sadly, more and more crimes like this are occurring, according to a couple of very reputable sources.

Consider this: Verizon Communications Inc. forensic analysis unit, and the U.S. Secret Service investigate data breaches against small businesses. They report that in 2009 there were 141 cases reported by companies with fewer than 100 employees. In 2010, that number had jumped to 761.

The article tells a very sad story about Joe Angelastri. He owns a couple of newsstands in the Chicago area. He says in the article, “We thought there would be very little chance that somebody would come into a business of our size to pull off something like this.” Does that sound like you?

It sounds just like me! I have those same thoughts that MR. Angelastri had. But after reading the article I’ve had my eyes opened. My world view is changing. This world is not a safe place. Duh! You say. The point is this: you can be robbed and not even know it. Mr. Angelastri didn’t even know he was being hacked for one year. It cost him $22,000.00.

 

Is Your Data Backed Up?

“How are your Data Backups?” if your answer is . . .
“Uh . . . I . . . think they’re ok?” That’s the wrong answer.

 

Maintaining Corporate Antivirus Programs

Saying “We’ve never had a virus problem on our network” is like saying…
“I don’t carry car insurance, because I’ve never had an accident!” Corporate Antivirus Programs,
like car insurance, will always cost you less in the long run.

 

Break-Fix IS more expensive

Waiting for the computer or network to crash will always cost you more…
Break-Fix is waiting for a problem to arise and then resolve it… preventative maintenance,
like car maintenance, will always cost you less in the long run.


 

IT Support is Not Expensive

For as little as $1/day, per computer, your systems can be fully backed up, patched, cleaned and optimized. So what does $1/day get me?

LiveWatchIT “Essentials” Office Managed Services

  • Automatic Cleanup of Temporary Internet Files and “Temp” Folder to get rid of accumulation
  • Automatic Disk Defragmentation
  • Patch Management, keeping your system up to date and closing security holes

Monitored backups and easy recovery

  • Nightly disk-imaging backup allows for quick whole-hard-drive disaster recovery
  • Individual file and folder restoration available
  • All backups monitored for successful completion
  • Backup and restoration phone technical assistance at no additional charge

Already have an employee that “does IT” in addition to his job … ?

How much are you REALLY saving?

 

2010 client satisfaction survey

We want to thank all of you who took the time to submit the survey.  We really want to know “how we’re doing” and this blog post is to publish the results.

We’re thankful that we didn’t score 0% in any category, but at the same time we didn’t score 100% either. We know that we have work to do, but overall the survey results are very encouraging to us. We’re not perfect, but according to you, we are doing a lot of things right.

Here are the results:

1. Please rate the following aspects of our work:

2. Overall, how do you rate the quality of products and services we provide?

3. What level of confidence do you have in us to deliver the products and services that you require?


4. Overall, is our performance is:

5. Based on our performance, how likely is it that you will use us in the future?

6. Comments

Do you have any suggestions regarding how we could improve the services we provide to you?
Simplify the language, cut the IT maintenance costs, LISTEN to the needs of your customers a bit better, I would have preferred knowing the cost ahead of time on my last 2 service appointments, Overall… we really don’t have much to complain about.

What “pains” “problems” “challenges” or “issues” does our service solve for you?
I like the fact that you tolerate our lack of computer knowledge without making me feel dumb, keeping our systems updated is very helpful, You make it possible for us to focus on our jobs without needing to invest time in knowing our hardware better, My challenges are more general to your industry.

This is how we at dts|infotech have interpreted your responses:

  • The cost of maintaining business networks is expensive. How do we cut costs?
  • The IT industry in general is challenging to stay up with. How do we simplify it?
  • You want us to listen to you and communicate effectively.

Thanks to all of you, our clients, who make it possible for us to earn a living.

 

new look

DTS InfoTech has a new look!

After many years in business we thought it was time for a different look, so we’ve come up with a new logo, videos, and a blog for our website. But even with the new look, we’re still the same Managed Service Provider (MSP) that our clients depend on. We’re pretty excited with the changes so we hope you’ll stop by the new website and check it out.

New Logo

Our new logo incorporates old and new. Dan Neuwirth, the “D” in DTS, is still the man at the helm; nothing has changed here. He just took the initials, DTS, from the original name of the company, Dan the Trouble Shooter, and added InfoTech to it. This change reflects our growth into servicing business class networks, not just home office users. But here too nothing has changed. We’ll continue to support our home office users.

New Website

Have you heard this old saying? “It’s nice to put a face with the name.” We thought it would be fun to have a video on the website. That way when someone stops by they can see that we’re just regular folks. We think that’s important. So with that in mind we’re posting videos of Dan and our employees welcoming visitors to the site and we’ll be posting new ones as time goes by.

Blogging

We’ve started reaching out using a blog. Here’s a good story . . . recently we surveyed all of our customers because we wanted to know how we were doing. So we just asked them . . . every one of them. Well, we we’re so excited with the results of the survey that we posted a blog about it on the website. With that kind of Customer Satisfaction we wanted to tell the whole world and blogging is a good way to tell that story.

Change

At the end of the day dts|infotech is still the same MSP you depend on. Always consistent, providing great service and dedicated to our customers.  We’re still here, we’re financially stable, we employ dedicated people and we use state of the art world class technology. Those core values will never change.

 

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