From e-mail anti-spam services to external operation of your entire IT. Managed Services frees up your enterprise IT team in many ways—and they’re more in demand than ever. What is the added value of transferring IT services to a service provider? How can companies best do this? How is the market developing? Christian Heckmann, Portfolio Manager, Bechtle Hosting & Operations, answers these questions and more in our interview.
There are several benefits that go hand in hand. Managed Services enables IT decision-makers to calculate costs transparently, because our contracts clearly state which service we’re providing and in which capacity.
Services are standardised and thoroughly tested. Because we work with both SMEs and large companies, we have a wide bank of expertise to fall back on, ensuring you get the best customer experience.
Managed Services also greatly reduces technical risks. An IT service provider’s IT environment has to be constantly available and run smoothly, because only then can they provide the best possible service to many different customers.
And not least, it lets you be more financially efficient. The shortage of a skilled workforce means that many IT departments are critically understaffed. Managed Services doesn’t just fill this gap, but also helps utilise resources for strategic topics and Business Management, freeing up employees to concentrate on their daily business—managing the IT infrastructure. And when your business grows as a result, Managed Services is flexibly scalable and can grow with it—yet another benefit.
Introducing Managed Services generally only means shifting tasks around—away from infrastructure and towards business-related topics. Over the past few years, IT departments have taken on an increasingly coordinating role in accepting the requirements of business. This trend is affecting the department drastically and will only continue. We need the valuable knowledge of their own employees. They have specific skills for their company that can't be delegated to external service providers. Administrators therefore become architects or provider managers.
Some companies fear that they will lose control if they let an external service provider run their IT...
Yes, some IT decision-makers think of Managed Services as a black box that you can’t see inside of to know what’s happening or what you’re getting. But the exact opposite is true. Together with our customers, we agree on the services to be provided down to the last detail and keep our contractual promises—in the form of service specifications and service level agreements. The customer thus benefits from a very high level of transparency they may never have had before. They know exactly what to expect. On this foundation, they are also very well placed to compare our offer with those of other service providers.
It’s also important that companies and service providers are communicating as equals. IT management receives monthly reports with the agreed performance figures discussed in the review meeting. At any point, however, steps can be taken if the project is not progressing as desired.
Managed Services is essentially a structured execution of operational tasks with a defined result. A look behind the scenes is therefore pretty boring—no one asks how a fleet provider gets a replacement vehicle to where it needs to be.
Cloud services are often the first step to Managed Services, for example with external management of end user support from a service desk or Office 365 support that assists the customer’s IT admin—in fast-paced cloud business, it can be really challenging for companies to build up their knowledge internally. A popular service that can be quickly implemented though, is anti-spam for e-mails.
An example of a large and more complex project would be relocating part or all of an IT infrastructure to a service provider’s data centre. Available services include server operation, database or network; installing updates, system monitoring, and data backup.
The deployment of cloud services is the clear winner, but the Service desk is also popular due to the lack of a skilled workforce. We’re also seeing an increase in high-level topics that require a lot of specialist expertise like Managed Security and Managed Data Centre plus there’s currently lots of growth in the Modern Digital Workplace.
It's often the case that the original customer request changes during a consultation, resulting in a different service being agreed on. The service that’s right for one company is probably wrong for another, which is why consultation is extremely important.
For dynamic, innovative organisations, Managed Services can often be introduced very smoothly and received positively by all involved. For large-scale outsourcing in relatively stable structures often found in larger companies, it’s important that the employees are on board right from the beginning which requires actively and transparently communicating upcoming changes. This is an important aspect that we discuss in the consultation phase.
The concept of Bechtle IT Business Architects has proven itself in co-operation with our customers They are specialised in providing holistic, intensive consultation, not only at IT infrastructure level, but with an eye on the processes across the enterprise as a whole. In this way, we work with our customers to solve the cause, not the symptoms of an issue that their company is facing, and really help them to achieve more.
We shouldn't forget that the system has wide-reaching effects on the way employees work. We knew right from the start that not everything was running smoothly. But luckily, in Bechtle we found a dependable partner with extensive expertise. We’re therefore very pleased with the combination of ELO and Bechtle that we decided on.
Organisation of 24-hour availability is often difficult for companies because their staff is limited. Service providers, on the other hand, can cover many customers and the associated economies of scale: Our units are available 24/7, 365 days a year and slot in upstream of our customers’ IT teams, meaning there’s support even in off-peak hours.
The topic of data protection and information security is also quite difficult for IT management to handle. As a service provider with ISO certification, we have all legal requirements covered. We renew these certifications on an annual basis, so our customers can be sure that when it comes to IT security, we’re up to date. We leave nothing to chance: Our systems monitor the IT environment at all times. Our 24/7 support team also makes regular visual checks.
When fitting out their workplace, we provide the customer with high-quality products and solutions from big-name manufacturers. We know from other projects how they interact the best. The customer benefits again from our wide-ranging experience collected over the years working with different companies.
Many customers have increasingly elaborate dial-in processes to access company networks, such as via a VPN token. In a modern work environment, connecting is much easier and quicker—one example being biometric login. Devices are always connected to the internet, the employees can work wherever they want, whenever they want. Collaboration between customers, partners, and colleagues is simplified with modern tools like Microsoft teams or Cisco Webex.
In addition to flexibility, the Managed Modern Workplace offers the ultimate in security and compliance. Devices are monitored and updates installed in the background, and system errors can be detected early on. There are cases where we can see the threat of downtime a week in advance. We then make a replacement device available, ensuring employees can continue working with no interruptions.
When a device eventually needs repairs, Single Swap—location-independent exchange of devices—is included. Employees have the option of bringing their device to their own IT department, or to another external location or other drop-off point—known as IT kiosk machines. There is also the option to have Bring-in Services come to your Home Office to pick the device up.
In terms of the cloud, a hybrid approach will continue to be established. The largest hyperscalers and even most of our vendor partners are moving in the direct of hybrid clouds, and market research confirms this trend too. Hybrid approaches mean that security questions need to be answered, and so we are expecting higher demand for flexible Managed Security services.
The flexibility factor will also come more into play. IT decision-makers are entitled to develop or reduce services even more easily as they see fit.
Due to the lack of a skilled workforce, we are also seeing a strong trend towards automation of services and self-service.
Last but not least, consultation is also growing in importance, as the training required in enterprises today just keeps on expanding thanks to the rapid development of the IT market.
Portfolio Manager Bechtle Hosting & Operations
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Published on Jul 31, 2019.