Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Managed Services Give Small Companies an Edge

As "the great recession" drags on, companies of all sizes struggle with the issue of how to maintain competitive electronic based services while staying within a constrained, if not declining, budget. Managed services offer a possible solution, especially for smaller companies that have little in the way of IT staffing and no ability to hire.

What's the secret of managed services? The name pretty much spells it out, as long as you realize you are not the one doing the managing. Let's consider your telephone system. One approach is to do a study, buy a good sized traditional or IP PBX system, acquire the needed wireline connectivity, order cartons of SIP telephones, network wiring, and a staff to install and maintain the complex system.

That's how big companies generally do it. Really big companies may have one staff for the telephone system and a separate and larger staff for the corporate computer network. That's a lot of people and a lot of infrastructure. But what else are you going to do?

An alternative approach is to outsource everything to a managed services provider. Your in-house involvement is pretty much managing the manager to make sure they have the latest requirements and any moves, adds or changes. Just about any service can be managed by an outside provider, but telephone and computer networking services are common. Any services that don't need a vendor's physical presence can be handled from long distance, since on the network across the country is as close as next door. For those needs that do need someone on-site, a VAR or Value Added Reseller can be hired separately or through the MSP or Managed Services Provider.

A simple MSP arrangement is a Managed T1 Router. The company that provides the router is the same one that provides the T1 data line. Your line would normally be terminated to a network interface in your telecom closet. It would be up to you to buy a router with the correct T1 interface and configure it to work to the line specifications.

A larger company with a dedicated staff has no problem with this. But what happens when things go wrong at a smaller company? It could be the line. It could be the router. It could be at the provider's end. Who's going to sort that out? You are, in conjunction with the telco company and the service provider.

But if you contract for a managed router service, the service provider has responsibility for everything from their end, through the line, and through the router they provide at your premises. They don't have control or visibility into your network, but up to that connector they have full visibility and control. You may be gone for the day, but the network operations center will often find and fix problems before you open up the next day.

A hosted PBX system provides a similar service for telephone operations. There is no physical PBX at your premises. All you have are VoIP telephone sets connected to a broadband network that runs to the PBX service provider. The equipment at their end does everything from connecting to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) to connecting interoffice calls, to call forwarding, automated attendant and conference calling bridge. An extra advantage of this approach is that your offices can be scattered all over the country and still act as if they were in the same building.

There are managed services for telephone, broadband Internet, multiple location networks, video conferencing, Web servers, and similar needs. You can do any or all of these things in house, but if you want to see how to maintain your competitive edge without the staffing and capital expense, look into managed service options now.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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