In casual conversation, I get asked what I do for work. Most people are looking for a standard answer, something along the lines of “I work retail” or even “Network Administration.” However, when I say I sell managed services, I often get a blank look. Some will press further, asking what that is, but most just nod a bit and try to find common ground elsewhere.
Managed services. Such a fancy name for something almost mundanely necessary for businesses to run in today’s world, but what is it? To define managed services today, we must acknowledge that the definition has changed over the years.
In the nineties, small and medium-sized companies identified that they needed to modernize their workflow to incorporate this new thing sweeping the world called the internet. Companies all over the United States brought in servers, set up desktop computers, and internet access became the new normal. Nonetheless, someone had to manage these new business methods, so Managed Services were born. A technician would visit onsite as needed to keep the server and all the desktops running. Near identical managed networks sprang up at businesses everywhere, but as fast as computers were changing, the methods of management and security remained almost unchanged for many years.
The 2000s ushered in mobile computing and changed managed services almost overnight. Between PDA’s like Palm Pilot and Apple dropping their smartphones into the market, businesses realized the potential but also identified the risk of the mobility. VPN’s ruled for those needing remote access, giving limited access to onsite resources. Managed service companies pivoted again, leveraging mobile device management, domain policies, and better firewalls, but the company data overall still resided onsite.
Today, large companies have already embraced the move to the cloud. No longer is business limited by the constraints of a local physical network. Data needs to be accessible yet secure from anywhere at any time. Small and medium-sized companies are slowly realizing the massive benefits of migrating away from the physical server and into the cloud-managed world, so the new managed services model is getting traction. Nowadays, the managed services provider is no longer just the company you call when the server breaks; they must be the strategic partner for the advancement of your business. Instead of silos of onsite servers, data must flow to all authorized users as if they were sitting at their desks at an office. Security must endure the daily barrage of malware and hackers looking to profit from weak networks. The managed service provider of today must constantly be monitoring to implement best practices while offering the education that many business owners need to build a safe and efficient enterprise.
I help to orchestrate the partnership between present-time businesses and a long-term technology partner. The managed service provider is no longer a repairman that shows up when something breaks but is a trusted guide through the jungle of technology. The provider-client relationship is less about hardware, networks, or even cloud management and more about the strategic alliance and guidance. Technology and best practices change, but the allyship, superior service, and eagerness to provide lasting solutions remain as Infinity’s standard.