IT support is a very broad term which refers to a whole range of services which are made to make sure that all computers and related electronic systems remain functional. A full integrated system of integrated parts is known as a computer system, while individual computer systems are generally made up of one or more independent subsystems that work together. In some cases a single computer system may be more complex than another using different technologies. This is especially true of the latter, where different components must be compatible with each other and the operating systems which use them. Common components included in an IT support service include network service providers, data acquisition/capture devices, network services including support for email, security, content, calendaring, LAN/WAN and more.
There are two basic functions, IT support services perform which are as follows: monitoring and control. Monitoring is performed in order to detect and prevent problems before they occur, while control deals with making sure that things are running smoothly and that no major faults take place. Normally, any faults will be detected by the IT support services provider before they become too big to handle so they can be corrected on time. Problems which cannot be detected beforehand can be dealt with by the IT support services provider themselves.
There are various ways to provide IT support services. For small companies with just one employee, round-the-clock monitoring is normally done by an in-house IT support service provider who also manages their workstation infrastructure round the clock. For medium-sized companies which have two or three employees, there are many options available. A managed service provider has various options which allow them to provide IT support services round the clock. Some of these options are:
A managed services provider can offer these services using a number of means depending on their needs and resources. They can either use a dedicated IT expert for the job or delegate this responsibility to a field sales person or marketing manager. While a field sales person would not have the necessary IT skills, he or she can easily mange communications services, data monitoring, software testing, network security, PC repair, web site maintenance and upgrades etc.
On a larger scale, a managed service provider can hire a team of computer technicians, analysts and marketers to provide IT support round the clock. The size of the business usually determines the number of analysts and marketers needed to support it. Some businesses may need a full-time team, whereas others may only require this service during specific periods throughout the year. This can be determined by understanding the needs of the business and the amount of resources that it requires to keep it running.
There are several advantages and disadvantages of a managed services provider over a traditional in-house IT team. For one, the cost factor is much lower for a managed services provider because they do not have to pay salaries, attract employees and incur other overhead costs of employing staff. When hiring a full-time employee, you will have to allocate a fixed sum of money for the month in which the employee is hired, which will include his or her wages, fringe benefits, insurance, special payments etc. In most cases, this money will have to be recovered over a period of time which can be costly for an MSP.
Another advantage for small business is the flexibility provided by IT managed service providers. Small business owners can focus on their core activities without worrying about minor details such as computer maintenance. Another advantage is that a majority of IT managed service providers offer a full range of services, which can include application integration, desktop management, email, integrated systems, Linux, network security, database management etc. With a dedicated IT professional or a marketing manager, you can concentrate on your core business processes. These professionals also have the knowledge and expertise to help your small business grow. One advantage of a managed service provider is that they ensure continuity in operations.
IT managed service providers are very different from traditional Information Technology Managed Service Providers. You will be able to concentrate on your business processes without worrying about the overall IT infrastructure and support. However, the only disadvantage is that with a managed service provider, you will have to pay for the services provided at a flat fee, which includes the labor costs and other costs incurred during the execution of your contract. Some companies provide IT managed services by including the costs of IT in the monthly invoice whereas some companies charge additional fees for certain IT services.