Managed Services = what exactly?

No, I’m not being facetious…I’m simply seeing this definition evolve before my eyes as I sit in various meetings (sometimes part of the discussion, sometimes just a fly on the wall). In the last several weeks, I’ve seen real interest in Managed Services in companies that range the spectrum — large commercial, education, government, medical — along with definitions that range through many areas….

  • Day to Day Tasks in Functional Areas — manage my storage (provision storage, track utilization, etc.), manage my virtual environment (spin up VMs, etc.)
  • Recurring Projects — vSphere upgrades, Virtual Desktop upgrades, etc.
  • Regular Health Checks — qualified engineers who regularly go through the virtual server/storage/VDI/etc. environments to make sure they’re running optimally. Interestingly enough, this is also a vBlock discussion (a post and/or YouTube video to come on this soon).
  • Take my IT department or at least some of it please — “no, I’m not sure what that means but I know I’ve got too few people, too many projects, I trust you as a good partner, and what can we offload to you?”.

The one key I’m seeing here is a pre-existing relationship that has some trust behind it. As a VAR (i.e. usually already working with a customer and a relationship + trust built up), there’s an assumption of trust that goes beyond a standard reseller or outsourcing arrangement. We as Varrow have already shown that we are focused on the customer’s best interests as the best way for us to succeed. While that’s important for any kind of large purchase (storage for instance), it’s even more critical for a continuing Managed Services relationship.

Another common theme is around staffing limitations and an increased slate of projects. When we went into the economic downturn, a lot of companies cut IT staff as they hunkered down into survival mode. Now that projects are picking back up, they either don’t want to increase staffing or simply can’t find the right people quickly enough or at all. Ironically, this isn’t necessarily about saving money — higher goals often consist of staying small/nimble, having defined service SLAs and procedures, ability to scale without headcount increases, etc.

Side note: Varrow is hiring….we’re almost always hiring the right people actually.

So….what is Managed Services to you?

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