Managed Services – What’s the Value?

If you’ve taken some time to research hosting solutions, you’ve probably seen the term “managed services” as a part of a provider’s offerings. At a high level, signing up for managed services means the host takes care of many basic security and maintenance tasks that an administrator performs but there is much more to it. If you don’t have a plan in mind for managing your cloud services, then these services are critical for protection against attacks as well as the stability of your server.

In the information technology world, managed services cover architectural and infrastructure support as well. The managed services you need depend on the outsourced infrastructure you sign up for in your contract. Since the incarnation of the cloud, you can create an entire enterprise solution without hosting any hardware locally.

Managed services are trending recently as a way for organizations to outsource costly infrastructure and monitoring to providers that have the right people on staff. These services reduce costs and provide growing organizations with a way to have large enterprise architecture without the cost of hosting it internally.

Hosting Managed Services

The simplest managed service is managed hosting services. This type is beneficial when you have a dedicated cloud server that hosts a number of web services including websites or APIs. Let’s use Windows servers as an example. On Tuesdays, Microsoft releases updates for its operating systems. These updates include changes for the operating system kernel, security, and a number of updates for installed software. Unless you have time to manage these updates (including any bugs), you could allow these updates to accumulate until your server is unstable and insecure.

Managed services allow you to focus on the business side of your organization while the host provider handles operating system and software updates. The provider installs updates and troubleshoots any issues should they occur. If you specify managed services for installed server software, you can also let the host handle any software updates to ensure that your public-facing software is safe from attackers.

Data Storage, Backups and Recovery

With any cloud service, you need data storage. Most important with your data storage service is your ability to create backups and store them securely and in a place they are easy to get to for recovery.

Backups and recovery are one of the biggest benefits with managed services. Backups are critical to your success, and you should never skip them. It only takes one hack or one failure for your entire online business to crash. The longer it takes for you to bring your services back online, the more money you lose every hour.

Server crashes happen for a variety of reasons. It can be from a corrupted update to software. It can be from a hacked account. It can even be from failed hardware. What happens if this happens in the middle of the night or during busy hours? You need someone to react quickly in case of an emergency crash.

With managed services, your downtime can be significantly reduced and you don’t need to figure out the root cause on your own. If you have administrators, the hosting administrators can work with them to figure out the issue and put a plan of action into effect.

In the worst case scenario, a host administrator can recover your site from backups. For this type of plan to be effective, you need current backups. Usually, backups are daily, so at the worst you only lose a day’s information. If you need more frequent backups, talk to your provider.

Remember that backups include your software, data and your database. You need complete backups to ensure that all of your services can be restored. Your managed service provider can help you identify these critical points in your business and create a backup plan that ensures your resiliency to outages and corrupted data.

Even if you don’t work with managed services, you should still make sure that you have frequent backups to protect your data.

Monitoring and Security Management

The final big benefit in managed services is the security benefits you get. Hiring your own internal security staff is expensive, so leveraging hosting staff for monitoring your services for attack is much more affordable.

Cybersecurity covers a wide range of attacks including DDoS, which can take your service offline for days. With monitoring, the hosting service staff is able to mitigate damage and get your site running with minimal downtime. They can also protect from external attacks, which also ties in with updating security software and firmware on your server and infrastructure.

Even if you determine that you can manage your own monitoring software on your server, the time needed to constantly review it and respond to incidents is exhaustive. You can’t do it yourself, and you need at least one full-time staff member to keep up with reports and review incidents as they occur. Security is not something to skimp on. Just one incident can put your entire business and brand reputation at risk.

Whether you have a large enterprise and need to expand and don’t have the real estate for hardware, or you have a small or midsize business that needs to outsource infrastructure, you can leverage managed services. They give you the peace of mind that your hardware and software are fully managed and updated without taking the time to do it yourself. It leaves you to focus on expanding the organization rather than the hassles of cloud maintenance.

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