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A Quick Guide to Understanding Managed Services

Managed services can mean different things to different people. This shouldn’t be a surprise – there are
many different ways to structure a managed service contract. Service-level agreements can widely vary
from one vendor or customer to another.

In theory, a managed service agreement is one where the customer entrusts the management of its
equipment to a third-party provider according to a set of accepted service-level agreements. In practice,
there is plenty of room for gray areas and misinterpretation.

This is why managed service companies can offer what appear to be the same services for much
different prices. These differences become even more finely distinguished when office managers take
the various types of managed services into account.

Types of Managed Services and the Challenges They Solve

Before going into the specific services that various vendors offer, office managers and business owners
need to distinguish between the various types of managed services available. The best way to make this
distinction is using three tiers to describe the extent of the vendor’s service offering:

1. Low-Tier Managed Services

The lowest managed services tier is made up of vendors who focus on their customer’s existing IT
infrastructure and work to keep that infrastructure running as smoothly as possible. They don’t
necessarily add value, plan for growth, or enter into strategic discussions with their customers.
This type of managed service is generally the most affordable and it can be an excellent option for
offices that have already deployed high-functioning infrastructure. An enterprise-level business that just
spent $1 million on its own enterprise resource management implementation may only need scalable,
affordable IT talent to keep it running affordably.

2. Mid-Tier Managed Services

Mid-tier managed services include value-added solutions that do more than keep existing infrastructure
running. These vendors offer disaster recovery solutions, software maintenance, scalability planning,
and more. They may use their own equipment or use their customers’ equipment, depending on the
results of their assessment.

Mid-tier managed service providers may use their own MSP software or offer specific strategic services
such as acquisition consulting. In either case, they distinguish themselves from low-tier services by
offering either infrastructural or strategic bonuses as part of a value-added package.

3. High-Tier Managed Services

The highest managed services tier consists of vendors who offer the full spectrum of infrastructural
services to their customers. They typically operate in their own facility, use their own equipment, and
offer a broad range of flexible services to their customers.

High-tier managed solutions allow start-ups and enterprises to immediately gain access to best-in-class
equipment and talent without having to make any significant up-front purchases. Their customers do
not need to purchase, operate, or even realistically think about office equipment or network
infrastructure – they just use the managed service provider’s full-scale solution.

Specific Solutions that Managed Services Vendors Offer

Broadly speaking, managed services exist for any technical solution that would otherwise rely on up-
front investment in equipment and talent. Almost any kind of business infrastructure can be modified to
fit the managed services format, but 5 particular options make up the majority of the industry.

• Managed Network Services. This can include anything from deploying networking equipment onsite
to leveraging software-defined networks and dark fiber to leverage network solutions without
paying up-front infrastructure costs.

• Managed Print Services. Print fleets are expensive to purchase, maintain, and operate.
Organizations rely on managed print services to outsource their print needs to efficiency-oriented
vendors, typically on a per-page or a per-user basis.

Managed Security Services. Cybercriminals know that small businesses can’t afford to set up robust
cybersecurity defenses the way enterprises do. Managed security solutions level the playing field by
offering enterprise-level security to small businesses at advantageous pricing through economies of
scale.

Managed Analytics. Monitoring and recording network traffic in order to plan for business growth
and inform strategic initiatives requires time and talent many organizations don’t have. Managed
services allow these organizations to simply generate reports on an as-needed basis.

Managed Support Services. Technical support is a major part of the managed services ecosystem.
Help desk support and remote access control allow organizations to affordably outsource technical
support to vendors from around the world.

What Type of Managed Solution Does Your Business Need?

Every organization is different when it comes to infrastructure. Finding the right managed service
solution requires accurate assessment and a clear objective. Small business owners, office managers,
and executives need to consult with managed service experts to identify exactly which services
represent the greatest value for their organization.

Many organizations prefer to work with a single vendor who offers multiple managed services. This
simplifies invoicing and transforms infrastructure into a predictable monthly cost that is easy to scale
according to dynamic business needs.

Do you need a scalable infrastructure solution that simplifies business processes and provides access
to top technologies? Talk to a QBSI-Xerox managed services expert to get started!