Friday, April 2, 2010

Thinking About Adding Managed Services to Your Business’ Menu?

Thinking About Adding Managed Services to Your Business’ Menu? Here’s What You Need to Know About PCs
Jay McBain, Director of Small and Medium Business
The economic recession and lower PC prices are contributing to the growth in Managed Services Providers (MSP). It’s a natural progression as VARs look for new sources of reoccurring revenue beyond break/fix. A recent study by CompTIA found that already more than 40 percent of IT firms surveyed categorize themselves as MSPs. The same study cites a seven percent CAGR through 2012 for a $66 billion managed services market. The study also showed that upwards of 11% of all SMB IT spending will be in a monthly managed fee scenario.
So if you’re a VAR thinking about managed services, now’s the time for serious consideration. Before you do, do your homework. Spending time talking to current and potential customers, MSPs and hardware and software vendors, is invaluable to designing the right focus areas for your business. Joining an MSP community is also important, from education and training to mentoring and guidance from peers. Learn from their experiences.
From a PC perspective, here are some of my observations for success in providing managed services. They focus around a few key areas: remote management technology, security features and vendor partnerships and programs.
  • Remote Management Technology - Customers choose MSPs because they are looking for always on technical support. MSPs are looking to provide that level of support while keeping costs down by avoiding having to deploy on-site technical support. PC remote management technologies help align both these goals. Look for servers, desktops and laptops that include Intel vPro and Active Management Technology. Some PC makers also include additional hardware/software productivity tools at no charge that can be easily managed and deployed across a fleet.
  • Security Features – One of the most common IT requests is resetting user passwords. Since there is time and expense associated with this, look for features like fingerprint readers to minimize forgotten passwords and remote hardware password manager tools to help minimize time spent managing passwords. Full hard drive encryption can be a useful preventative measure to protect sensitive data, however it does require good password management. Also, to protect from loss or theft, choose PCs that support Computrace and Intel Anti-Theft Protection.
  • MSP Software Platforms and Programs – As the managed services field continues to grow, PC makers are teaming up with managed services software vendors to optimize and integrate hardware and software. Companies such as Kaseya, Level Platforms, N-Able and ITControl Suite develop some of the most popular platforms for MSPs. With the double-digit growth of Managed Services, a few PC makers are coming up with new programs to incent Channel Partners new to managed services or those already growing.
MSPs are in a good position to capitalize on new PC refresh cycles this year. Many businesses are expected to upgrade their PCs to take advantage of Windows 7 and new Intel Core processors. This bodes well for MSPs looking to deploy and manage these PCs through their lifecycle.