IT Focus Area: Managed Services
February 4, 2015
Charting a Course for IT Transformation through Managed Services
When Thomas Jefferson selected a team to explore the western United States in the early 1800s, he realized that no one person would have all the qualities he was looking for to complete this task successfully. He knew he would need the skills of a scientist, an astronomer, a botanist, a cartographer, a mineralogist, and an expert in the various indigenous cultures the group would likely encounter. That team would need to possess the right temperament to be resilient during tough times and the keen survival skills to navigate the rough and unforgiving terrain.
Lewis and Clark ended up leading the famous expedition to explore the uncharted West, but they didn’t do it alone. They were joined by a team of explorers that included Sacagawea, who served as a translator during the journey, helping the men navigate new territory, languages, and cultures.
This team exploration of uncharted territory is also playing out in today’s new era of IT.
IT organizations must chart a new course in the age of cloud computing, convergence, virtualization and mobility. It is not easy for an organization to go it alone.
Companies these days should be more agile in managing their constantly evolving IT environments, especially with regard to the business demand for more storage. They must understand and meet success metrics around utilization, response time, recovery rates, and more.
It’s hard to do all of that on your own, but a relationship with the right managed services partner can ensure storage grows with your business, stays fresh, and stays in sync with your changing needs. A partner can help IT organizations manage their environments and make informed, cost-effective, and forward-thinking decisions about their storage.
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By strategically partnering with a managed services team, organizations gain the agility to meet success metrics and even exceed them by transforming the very way they operate.
Assembling Your Team
Savvy IT leaders are increasingly realizing it’s not possible to be great at everything, especially when a converged infrastructure requires knowledge of the entire IT stack and virtual environments. Instead they are determining which skills they want to keep in-house and are leveraging partners for the rest.
More often than not, it would take more than one employee to gather the skills, time, and resources necessary to maintain a holistic view of the IT environment. And if an organization is lucky enough to have a single employee with the ideal skillset to consistently monitor and optimize it’s IT, imagine the cost to the company if it were to lose that single person.
A managed services partner lets organizations leverage a pool of resources that can offer a holistic perspective on the environment for the price of one full-time equivalent employee. Within a converged infrastructure, a partner has the knowledge to optimize it for the present and prepare for the future. It shifts the paradigm from reactive to proactive, especially in situations where organizations have experienced rapid business growth.
Roadmap to Longevity
Organizations typically realize they lack a core competency during a time of transition. For example, this transition usually occurs when someone with significant institutional knowledge leaves the company or when the IT infrastructure changes significantly. Storage and backup can easily spin out of control when organizations grow quickly—and all of a sudden they’re functioning in reactive mode.
The right partner can help organizations set a roadmap for what they’re good at, what they need help with and how to accomplish their goals. The roadmap is one of the most valuable exercises IT goes through when entering such a partnership; it outlines core competencies in black and white, and how the organization must realistically adapt to reach long-term objectives.
Times of change provide a great opening for taking a deeper look at the way the organization manages people, processes and technology. It is also a good time to think about where they can strategically reallocate resources so their IT environment has longevity. Savvy integration of a managed services provider can result in great value and cost-savings from an operational and environmental perspective.
If you are going this route, look for a partner that shares your values and puts an emphasis on enabling your in-house team. It may seem counterintuitive, but the best partnering relationships are ones where your team gets better and more self-sufficient. Instead of making organizations reliant on someone else’s expertise, partners ultimately help them become more self-sufficient by guiding them toward their end goal and outlining together the best way to get there. Don’t settle for anything less.
IT organizations, ultimately, know their environment the best. An effective partnership involves sharing information, putting it in a collaborative environment and helping you develop the right strategies and conditions for success. The right partner will provide you with the toolsets for elevating your own organization’s vision, visibility, and proactively embracing IT transformation.
And that’s when you know you’ve found the right partner. They are by your side, guiding you through this journey as you chart a new course for your IT organization and helping you navigate toward future IT agility.
Monitoring: a Perfect Use Case for a Transformational Partnership
To put a finer point on it, monitoring and managing IT systems, in the realm of manual and administrative IT tasks is one of the largest sources of frustration and drain on staff time.
Monitoring and reporting software is easy to buy but often ends up being difficult to own because it requires so much upkeep—usually more than one person can handle. And, even in the rare instances where the software is properly implemented, it doesn’t take long for it to go stale. Due to migrations, acquisitions or even just regular progress, the IT environment is constantly changing, making it tough to keep the software in sync—yet the information the software provides is crucial to the effective IT planning required to support business growth.
The internal options for managing reporting and monitoring software fall somewhere between a rock and a hard place: You can train a single person on multiple products with shallow results, or you can hire multiple people with specific expertise but at a great expense. Without dedicating significant time to the software, collections get missed and new reports fail to get made. IT organizations often don’t have that much time to devote to one endeavor because of all of the other support and maintenance activities their environment requires.
Working with a managed services partner can help relieve this administrative burden. Look for a partner that can provide you with access to your monitoring and reporting 24/7, as the SaaS solutions model can. When you improve visibility into your environment, you increase your ability to be proactive: maximizing storage capacity, minimizing risks, continually improving the environment, and, most importantly, establishing a long-term transformational strategy. Each of these elements comes down to knowledge—and when you have better information without the administrative burden, you can run a better business.
Take for example one organization that needed help effectively monitoring a refreshed environment. The managed services partner amplified the organization’s ability to maximize the environment day-to-day, as well as to plan for the future.
The reporting strategy reduced the organization’s tactical workload, while giving them insight from daily reports. The overall strategy ended up saving the organization $200,000 a year, just around its monitoring and reporting practices. That’s $200,000 more that can be directed toward activities that will help accelerate the business.
Other areas of savings can be found by:
Reducing the amount of reporting tools used in environments today
Efficiently retiring maintenance fees associated with those tools
Avoiding growth purchases through detailed forecasting
Leveraging empirical data for custom architect & design solutions that support the shift to cloud and current day converged IT solutions
By partnering with a group of experienced explorers, Lewis and Clark built a team with the necessary skills they needed to succeed. Now, think of how much more they could have done if their partners had not only the best skills, but also the best technology at their disposal. Imagine if they had some of today’s navigation technologies. They could have seen over mountains and predicted challenges such as weather events, hostile environments, or rough terrain before they even encountered them.
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