What to Know About Managed Service Providers
Managed service providers (MSPs) provide IT services for other companies, typically in a contract with the client company. The MSP will manage and perform various functions, including provisioning of hardware, software, network connectivity, data security, and server management. For some clients, this means that the MSP is their infrastructure provider, while for others, it may be an application deployment platform or managed desktop solution.
Large organizations often use MSPs to avoid dealing directly with hardware vendors and small businesses where they may offer a more cost-effective alternative to having dedicated resources and technical staff in-house. Here is what to know about managed service providers.
Professional managed service providers rely on an MSP platform to successfully monitor and manage their clients’ IT systems. MSP platform capabilities include monitoring, performance analysis, maintenance alerts, reporting, asset optimization, remote system administration, and advanced features. An end user’s experience should always begin with a secure website backed up by a 24/7 support team. A professionally managed service provider uses a robust platform to ensure your site stays online and keeps you informed.
2. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is the usage of remotely hosted applications over the internet. Cloud services are becoming increasingly popular because they can give users access to a wide range of technology. Although there is no centralized control in cloud computing, the consumer does not have direct control over the underlying physical assets, making them less susceptible to failure than traditional servers. Many business environments use cloud computing services. This includes email, file storage, and collaboration tools.
3. Dedicated Server Hosting
A managed server hosting plan from a qualified managed service provider uses the cloud’s most efficient component – the virtual machine. Virtual machines do not run programs like operating systems but instead store files and applications. A virtual machine uses much less power than regular servers and allows a single server to host multiple services.
Most people have heard of virtualization before; however, think about how a computer works internally if you’re unfamiliar with the concept. Each program is stored on its disk drive. When one program needs to start another program, the two programs communicate directly through local memory. Without the help of the CPU, the two programs would run sequentially. A virtualized environment benefits that all processes, including the OS, run simultaneously.
Because each VPS represents a dedicated server, the service provider must ensure that all components are fully functioning and available before sending out any customer orders. In addition, since they are shared among multiple customers, all customers and services should be carefully monitored to prevent downtime.
4. Remote Management
Another critical aspect of managing a web presence is making sure everything looks great at a glance. If someone visits your site, how easy is it for them to navigate? Is the content displaying correctly? Could anything be improved upon? These questions require attention to detail and careful planning to answer effectively. Some solutions offer total remote management allowing the complete administrator control of their system.
However, this requires an expert technician who understands every element to troubleshoot issues efficiently. Other solutions allow an administrator to view only the most important aspects of a client’s hardware and software. Regardless of what solution is chosen, the goal is to provide a solid base of reliable infrastructure to build a successful web presence.
5. Hardware & Software Monitoring
The best-managed service providers know how vital it is for their clients to keep track of uptime. Regular checks should be performed throughout the day to detect any potential problems. Once the problem has been identified, the vendor will diagnose the issue and determine whether or not it can be resolved on-site.
There may be times when the cause cannot be fixed immediately, so the provider sends a replacement unit for evaluation. Even though the unit might need minor repairs, the time frame between a repair and the client receiving the repaired equipment could take weeks.
6. Network Design
Network designers prioritize bandwidth and latency (the delay in information passing). Since a website is often built around multimedia content, network design must allow quick download speeds to reduce bottlenecks. Latency is especially critical as many videos contain streaming media, flash animations, or animations that require constant updates. A poorly designed network can slow down upload speeds dramatically, resulting in poor performance and user frustration.
A backup strategy should be implemented in conjunction with network design. While the primary focus of this article is on managed services, backups are equally as important. Since no one has access to your data, even a small hiccup could cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue. The service provider should create daily incremental backups and rotate these routinely. This gives them ample time to perform backups while ensuring that everyone always knows exactly where to find a specific file.