Managed Information Technology Services – Its Definition and the Duties of IT Support Technicians
As information technology advances and Brisbane businesses look for more efficient ways of streamlining their complex IT operations, using external service providers to handle certain aspects of their day-to-day operations has become a popular means by which such efficiencies can be achieved. Most, if not all, businesses have an IT department, be it large or small. The roles and functions of people who work in that department are quite diverse and can be stressful and pressuring at times. For the most part, those employees generally mange the core IT functions of the organization as it relates to keeping the network up and running, updating software like Operating Systems and Anti-virus programs, handling internal networking issues from all departments, running and installing network cables and configuring computers and other devices for use on the local network, enhancing IT service and availability, boosting the efficiencies of the network, finding ways to reduce costs, and so on and so forth. With so many duties under their direct care, staff get burned out easily and may underperform at times as a result of burnout. That being the case, the top-level managers of many companies decide that in order to lessen the workload on their IT staff, it would be best to use Managed IT Services, or MITS, to deal with the day-to-day technical operations of the IT department. As you read further into this article, you will see what MITS are and the roles that the IT Support Technician plays in the whole scheme of things.
What Are Managed IT Services?
As the name suggests, it refers to IT Services that are managed, however in this case by a third party. In principle, MITS is the practice of proactively outsourcing IT management responsibilities and functions with a view to strategically improving operations of the IT assets or objects and cutting expenses. This type of arrangement is a subscription model where the client owns or has direct oversight of the IT infrastructure that is being managed whereas the Managed Services Provider, or MITSP, is the provider who delivers the MITS. This is in contrast to calling a service provider to fix issues as they happen and then being billed only for the work done. The MITSP and the client are contractually bound by a service-level agreement that states the quality metrics and performance of their relationship. The length of time that the agreement is valid for varies depending on the needs of the client. Many companies have long-term agreements that can stretch over a period of many years while others have short-term agreements that may last for only a few months. In most cases, only certain aspects of the IT functions are outsourced, leaving other aspects in the hands of local IT support personnel.
One must also note that the cost of employing the services of a MITSP depends on the amount of services that a provider is contracted to provide as well as the lifespan of the contract. It is obvious, then, that companies who outsource smaller amounts of functions for shorter periods of time will end up paying a lot less than a company that outsources many function for longer periods of time. If you want to use the services of a MITSP, you will have to sit down and discuss the needs of your company with your IT staff so as to arrive at a consensus as to what should and should not be outsourced. MITSPs are flexible in the services that they provide for different companies, so you do not have to worry that the few or many functions that you need to outsource will not be accepted by a MITSP. In choosing a MITSP, it would be prudent to look at a few of them and compare their service offerings, prices, speed of service, and how well recommended they are. By so doing, you will be sure to find the one that will give you the best value for your money.
Why Use Managed IT Services?
It goes without saying that it is in the best interests of many Brisbane based businesses to employ the services of a managed IT services provider like Computer Fixperts. However, you will always find a few people who say that they still cannot see why their business would need such a service, even when the reasons are as plain as daylight, staring them straight in the face! So, to allay all possibilities of such individuals even hinting at doubting the need for a MITSP, let us focus on some reasons why a business should use a Managed IT Services Provider:
- Constant Monitoring of Your Network – company managed services providers constantly monitor your network and other IT objects or assets for issues that may arise that could compromise the integrity of your network and address those issues before they become problematic. This ensures that the quality of service that the network is required to put out is maintained. You can just imagine the chaos that would exist if such an arrangement is not in place. All departments would essentially be affected and production can grind to a halt, which in effect means loss of revenue. Once the network is constantly monitored, such a scenario can be prevented from ever happening.
- Cutting Expenses – Using a MITSP drastically reduces the amount of money a business would have to spend to fix issues that arise. Through proactive management, the MITSP can stop impending problems in their tracks, saving you money that would otherwise be spent fixing the problems after they fully manifest themselves. Think, for example, of the costs associated with calling in a technician to fix or replace a mainframe consisting of hundreds of CPUs that keep your business in operation:
- You would lose money because of downtime
- You would have to wait on the technician to come to your business place to assess the problem and provide a report
- Then you would have to order new parts if he has none and wait for them to be shipped to you and then installed
- And then the system would have to be tested to ensure it is working properly.
What a headache that would be! This example clearly shows how much more expensive and time consuming it would be not having a managed it support provider by your side at such a time.
- Less Stress on IT Staff – The staff members of your IT department will have a lot less pressure on their hands so that they can now concentrate on ways of improving the network while providing efficient service to other departments that need their assistance.
- Keeping Technology Up-To-Date – The different technologies that are used throughout an IT network need to be constantly updated in order to stay current. Managed services can efficiently manage the task of keeping the IT objects up-to-date so that the system continues to function seamlessly. Some people underestimate the importance of updating software. Think, for example, of the Windows Operating System. If updates were not being constantly sent out, all computers with that OS would now be vulnerable to just about every Trojan and virus that exists online and offline. The updates keep the machines safe and gives the end users peace of mind. You too will find peace of mind when your MITSP stays abreast of the latest technology and makes the necessary updates as soon as they become available.
- Cloud Computing Facilities – A growing number of managed IT services are adopting the idea of offering cloud services that enable quick and efficient off-site storage of valuable data in the event that something goes wrong locally. This ensures that such sensitive data can be retrieved if the network fails for some reason or data corruption occurs on the network, making all locally-saved data useless. Once the network and its related objects are back in full working order, data can be retrieved from the cloud so that normal operations can resume in the shortest possible time.
The Duties of the IT Support Technician
So far we have looked at what Managed IT Services Providers are and why it makes sense to use a MITSP in your business operations. Another important aspect that will help you to understand the importance of a MITSP is by focusing on the duties of the IT Support Technician. They are as follows:
- Software – The IT Support Technician is responsible for product support and maintenance, as the need arises. He will be called upon to:
- ensure that all software are up-to-date
- computer repairs and laptop diagnosis
- repair laptop screens including Macbook Pro
- check to ensure that all the relevant licenses are current
- install new software as needed
- perform configurations and reconfigurations
- remove outdated/out of production software and replace them with newer, more modern software that accomplish the same function as previous ones
- Authentication – In order to ensure that only authorized personnel access specific information, the process of authentication is vital to the secure operations of any network. This system verifies the identity of users who wish to access the network. The IT Technician would ensure that such a system is in place and that it is always functioning. He would also update authentication systems to ensure that they are on par with industry standards.
- Network Systems Management – This involves remotely monitoring and managing all or the majority of the objects for the customer that are under his control. This is a proactive job that involves a lot of concentration and dedication. There is no room for error as this could result in catastrophic consequences for him, his company, and the client. Effectively managing the IT infrastructure under his control is basically the greatest function that he has to perform. If he fails at this aspect of his job, then everything else down the line gets affected. Securing the network is an important aspect of managing the infrastructure so as to prevent unauthorized access from external factors like hacking and spyware.
- Data Backup and Recovery – It is important that all the data on the network that he controls is backed up and that there is a mechanism in place to recover said data in the event that it is needed. Safely and securely backing up data ensures that it can be accessed at any time and that it is free from corruption since corrupted data is as good as having no data at all in the first place.
- Data Storage, Warehousing, and Management – How and where data is stored is also important. In most cases, it is stored off-site to ensure that in the event of a malfunction at the client’s office it can be effortlessly retrieved. Managing data also involves ensuring the availability of space for storage and putting mechanisms in place that prevent unauthorized access to said data.
- Help Desk Service – When the client needs IT assistance in one form or another, there has to be some way to communicate with the IT Technician. This service allows the client to communicate details of faults that arise from time to time that the IT Support Technician may not be aware of. For best results, the IT Help Desk Service should be very responsive to enquiries so that the IT Technician can act quickly to resolve issues in the shortest possible time.
- Maintain the Client’s Computer Services and Equipment – This includes installing or updating required hardware and software, troubleshooting to detect and solve technical problems, and recommending equipment or computer products to improve productivity.
- Keep Accurate Records – It is very important that the IT Technician record problems and their solutions for future reference.
- Provide Training – He trains clients on new systems or software applications. This will help them to better understand how they work so that they can use them efficiently.
Provide a Predictable Billing Model – The IT Technician should accurately advise the client of what their regular IT management expenses will be. This figure is based on the various services that the IT Technician is contracted to provide.
Managed IT Services are becoming more and more popular among business owners who want to cut costs, remove excess duties from their IT staff, and have a 24/7 monitoring system that ensures their IT infrastructure is always safe and up-to-date. An important point to note, however, is that MITS generally complements a business’ internal IT functions rather than replace it. Both work hand-in-hand to ensure that all systems keep running at optimal levels while freeing up existing IT staff to focus on more strategic projects as well as their other daily core functions. The job of the IT Technician is very important as that individual has to ensure that the systems are properly managed and monitored, software are supported and maintained, and data backups are taken care of. No matter what angle you look at MITSPs from, it’s a win-win for both client and provider. Businesses that rely on the services of MITSPs fare a lot better than those that do not while the provider makes a name for itself as it efficiently executes its contractual obligations to the client.