Managed Service and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Ask a hundred ‘experts’ what managed service means and you’ll get a hundred fifty different answers.

In its heyday, large scale outsourcing became a catch all; an umbrella term for pretty much anything you can throw over the fence to a third-party provider to the extent that its meaning became diluted. And that was the problem. It proved to be difficult to price up, difficult to track, difficult to measure and very costly to replace with a competitive provider.

This is why Managed Services Providers (MSPs) with specialist focus, delivering expertise and value add services have become significant players in the IT Enterprise space. It also reflects the growing demand for outcome based models such as SLA’s aligned to business KPIs, which are delivered on a consumption or subscription basis. This approach enables businesses to focus on their own core competencies (where they make money) and allow for MSP specialists to operate the resource hungry, mundane and boring tasks.

Another way of looking at this is that Managed Service is about ’management’, not ‘deployment’. It’s really more about people, processes and less about tools. This means that the technology used is pretty much irrelevant. What matters are the outcomes.

An analogy for this is a competent motorcycle mechanic. A great mechanic can fix motorbikes anywhere; in the hard rain and howling winds, in a hot desert, on a busy roadside or in his garage; it really doesn’t matter. That’s because a great mechanic has a wide range of skills and employs the right people for the job.  They also have the right tools and, great processes (troubleshooting, isolating and fixing) to sort the bike out quickly, safely and cost effectively.
The same is true of a Managed Services Providers. A great MSP can provide their services regardless of how the technology is deployed. They could be delivering the service remotely for technology deployed on premise or hosted in a third part data centre. They could use blended resources, combining offshore and onshore resources, delivering the right resource at the right time and at the right cost. The service could be delivered out of the provider’s data centre or the cloud, which could be private or public. It doesn’t matter. It could be highly integrated with other technologies. It could be air-gaped due to high security requirements. And the service must cater for scaling up and down based on business seasonality.

This level of flexibility means, the starting point is irrelevant. It doesn’t really matter how your applications have been set up and configured. It doesn’t really matter what these systems have been integrated to. The MSP’s two key tasks are; one, to operate the service in an efficient manner using best practice and its intellectual property; and to develop a business aligned roadmap to help drive the solution and extract more value from the investments that the customer has made in the platform.

This level of flexibility means the consumer is then free to choose how and when to consume the service and most importantly be able to realise more value from that initial investment in the technology.

Keyvan Shirnia
Head of Managed Services

By Daniel Swann