When you think about the cloud, what comes to mind may be Web-based applications and services that are commonly used in business settings today—Gmail, Google Docs, Office 365, DropBox, Slack—where technologies that once required an in-house server and now offered via software-as-a-service technology. You log in using a browser or a dedicated application and access your files online.
The benefits? Backup is easier. Accessing files and applications from any computer or any location is easier. You rely less on being in your office or on your designated office computer. Tablets and other devices are easier to substitute when desired.
But “the cloud” is about more than just productivity applications. One place where we’re seeing the cloud as a bigger and bigger factor is in conjunction with managed IT services, which makes it possible for remote IT professionals to monitor and manage your company’s in-house servers, desktops, laptops and other devices, thus ensuring your computers are up-to-date, secure and backed up.
(In another blog entry in this series, we’ll also discuss using the cloud for your phone services—if you’re not already using VoIP technology for you office phones and reception, you may be surprised at what the cloud can offer.)
What are Managed Services?
“Managed services” is the industry term for outsourcing the care and feeding of your office computers, laptops and servers. While some small businesses do have dedicated IT staff members, it’s rare. For companies with 10, 20 or 30 seats, for instance, it’s often doesn’t make financial sense to have a full-time IT employee. Instead, a managed-services IT company can support your office technology via the cloud—remotely monitoring your equipment and software in ways that even allow them to notice some problems before they become a major issue.
Managed services can mean a variety of things, but when we talk about them at Fuse.Cloud, we’re focused on some basic benefits that can really make a difference:
- Proactive support. With your machines monitored by the managed services software suite, problems can be detected before they seriously affect productivity.
- Increased security. With a managed services team constantly monitoring security for your network—including the installation of recommended additional networking hardware and software—security against malware, ransomware and other threats is significantly improved for most small business office system.
- Fixed costs. There’s a monthly fee per workstation of device that is supported by the managed services team.
- Cost savings. With an active managed-services plan, small businesses will frequently save costs by increasing the lifespan of existing equipment and hardware, while allowing you to avoid calling those “emergency support” consultants that may charge for travel time, hourly fees and lost productivity.
- Better planning. Managed services plans are generally implemented after a complete audit is completed, which helps your business figure out exactly where productivity bottlenecks or security gaps exist in your systems. That then allows you to budget in a smart way for new equipment, upgrades or for implementing newer approaches to your computing—such as, for instance, moving applications or entire servers into the cloud over the next six to 12 months, or planning PC upgrades for the end of the fiscal year.=
- Better productivity and remote features. When Fuse.Cloud implements managed services for a client, upgrade all users to Microsoft’s Office 365, allowing everyone to benefit from the cloud-based features of the software. We also help your company implement virtual private networks for remote or travelling employees, so they can securely access important company files, and even surf the Internet with less chance of compromising their device’s security while using a WiFi network at a coffee shop or conference center.
- Peace of mind. If your IT services are currently managed by an office manager—or even the CEO or COO of your company—then managed services can replace that function for someone whose time may be better spent elsewhere. Managed services can augment your in-house tech guru, so that he or she has a “backup team” to help with mundane tasks and monitoring. So, even SMBs with an IT support team can task those staffers with higher-level work while the managed-services company monitors in the background and helps spot problem areas.
Finally, there’s another advantage to working with Fuse.Cloud (in particular) for your managed services—the opportunity to bundle those services with Voice-over-IP and/or fiber data access. With one bill, one point of contact and a comprehensive plan for your company’s digital and cloud needs, you might find it’s worthing giving us a call for a consultation and quote.
But even if you don’t end up working with us, know that managed services for your company are an excellent next step to take into the cloud, offering security, peace of mind and cost savings for the typical SMB.