If your organization is like many in the Small and Medium Business (SMB) market segment, your core business is providing products or services other than Information Technology (IT), whether on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis. After your initial start-up, your IT expenditures are likely entirely reactionary to breakdowns or new needs that arise suddenly.
By the time most SMB’s start paying attention to their IT management and expenditures, it is generally because of serious, high-profile issues with one or more of performance, reliability, security, or cost. Many SMB’s will have amassed quite a volume of unstandardized hardware, software, and configurations by the time they consider doing things differently. In many cases, this existing collection of infrastructure can be quantified as an approximate number of computers, switches, wireless devices, and servers, with few details. Your organization probably knows the business functions you rely on each device for, but the device itself is usually a “black box”.
Managed services sounds great, but where to start? Is it realistic to just sign a contract with a fixed pricing structure and expect all your IT-related problems go away? Your due diligence should dictate starting by minimizing the uncertainty, which is key to ensuring you get the results you need, in the most cost-effective manner. Uncertainty only costs money and adds risk. Remember, Managed Services is an outcome, not a strategic roadmap of how to get there.
The best approach to your specific journey from an unmanaged infrastructure to one that is managed and optimized, be it as-a-service or internally-managed, will depend on the size and complexity of your infrastructure, how it is actually used in the context of your business, the age of your key equipment vis-à-vis its’ service life, and any other major initiatives or upgrades that you have planned in the short term. This is especially important if you are currently plagued by IT problems, and/or a sprawling volume of disparate hardware.
You probably didn’t populate your organization with random people willing to work for the lowest legal wage; you identified the job each needed to do, and sourced the individuals to fill those roles carefully based on those needs, balancing the wages you pay with the relative ability and responsibility of each individual.
If your business relies on IT to function, your network needs to be built the same way. If it wasn’t, there’s a gap that needs to be quantified and addressed, and this must be an early and integral part of your individual roadmap towards a managed infrastructure with managed services. In other words, your infrastructure needs to actually be manageable. The implications of that sentence go far beyond seeing the word “managed” on the datasheet for a piece of equipment.