Advice on managed IT infrastructure services

I have been tasked with sourcing a Managed Services Company to remotely monitor, maintain and support  all our IT hardware and software infrastructure. Does anybody know of any articles which describe the services on offer and the pitfalls when setting up a managed services contract?

Thanks in advance for any advice offered.
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Do you mind if I ask how large your organization is? (number of servers, PC's ,etc)

Managed services can be a sticky wicket, but the first thing you need to understand is that you will "almost" always pay for services you won't receive, and when you don't you're almost always paying more than you should be.

You're going to want to get pricing from more than one company. You may want to even break things up between vendors rather than putting everything in one basket (Software to company 1, Hardware to company 2, Cabling to company 3, etc)

Here's a little more on the subject


Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Disclaimer: I'm a technology consultant and some of my clients are on the MSP model.

Good luck comparing two companies.  MSPs often have different sets of services and different requirements.  Some will work with the hardware you have, at least a few may REQUIRE you replace equipment with equipment they know and support (it's easier top be an expert in one product than to be an expert in each of 20 different products that 20 different clients use.

Understand the point of an MSP - they are your outsourced IT provider.  You pay them a fixed monthly fee and in exchange, they are (trying) to ensure that your network experiences as little downtime as possible.  Strictly speaking, if you hire a company and never see them BUT ALSO, NEVER have problems, they are doing their jobs.  Or getting EXTREMELY lucky (and technology is not nearly that perfect, they rarely get that lucky).

Some providers might do an "all you can eat" type of service where everything is covered, from server failures to questions about why Bold isn't working in Word.  Others may have a defined scope of services - for example, they will provide break fix services included in the bill, but programming scripts, installing new systems, and other things like that are separate projects and billable at a contract rate.  

One way to look at managed services is that your flat fee means that the less time the consultant spends on fixing your issues, the more money they make (on an average hourly basis).  If I'm not caring for your servers properly and things go down and it takes me 12 hours to get things running and you only pay me $800 per month, I'm making an average of $67 an hour... but If I keep your systems running smoothly, and the two hours of maintenance plus scripts and utilities I employ keep you running and productive, then I'm making an average of $400 before utility costs.  It's in MY interest - AND YOURS - for me to keep your systems operating as well as possible.  Vs. break/fix hourly billing where (IF I WERE UNSCRUPULOUS) I could decide my billings this month are a little low... let me screw something up on your systems and make you call me so I can bill you.  And if I'm not unscrupulous, then I may have so many slow months if I'm any good, I go out of business because I'm only billing 2 hours a month to maintain a system and that only makes me $300.  Sometimes less.  

I disagree with with the break things up approach.  I recommend finding a small technology consultant with 1-5 employees including themselves who can work with you and advise you.  And you should be communicating and including them on conversations that involve other technology decisions - like finding a new line of business app or expanding the business, etc.  GOOD MSPs are partners that advise you and look out for you...

And the small ones wont - CAN'T know everything, but the good ones will have a network of partners to assist them... they'll have a cabling company, a web developer, a security consultant, etc... GOOD MSPs know their limitations and work with others to provide your company a team of highly competent, dynamic, and flexible advisors and consultants who can care for your business almost as much as you do (because no one cares more about your business than you).
Edwin HofferTechnical ExpertCommented:
rabpwh1000Author Commented:
Thanks Edwin. Article was useful but was not quite what I was looking for.
rabpwh1000Author Commented:
Thanks Kenfcamp and Lee W that was helpful for me
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.