Which is right for me: Managed Services or Professional Services?
We provide consultancy, design, implementation and training as part of our Professional Services offerings. Since implementing an MSP service for the SolarWinds Orion® platform, the question of ‘What is the difference’ gets raised. What is suitable for the individual customer? the customer’s requirement, expectation or the position the customer is actually in. All of these and other drivers contribute to the way this question gets answered.
Let’s reset with some basics.
Why do organisations want a Managed Service?
Outsourcing has, in IT terms, been around for a long time, and whilst there are reasons why outsourced turns back to being insourced, the benefits of outsourcing an IT function are well known.
• Access to specialist knowledge
• Immediate scalability
• Resource focus
• Cost savings
Often a combination of these will determine that outsourcing a function is the right choice for an organisation. Still, any one of these alone can be the decision-maker for outsourcing.
An MSP service is aimed at organisations with an IT service or infrastructure that has the driving forces that fit with an outsourced managed service, which will take over the day-to-day, often referred to as Business as Usual (BAU). Our responsibility as the MSP for the management of an Orion installation is to be an organisations BAU team member who brings in to the organisation the resource to perform the day to day operations.
However, this is not sufficient for a solution such as Orion. As a result, we repeatedly see that customers do not take advantage of all of their investment in the SolarWinds monitoring platform’s capability.
Therefore, the managed service goes beyond this BAU scope of performing typical day-to-day tasks such as adding new devices, reviewing and tuning alerts generated, tweaking thresholds and dashboard presentations. Our goal is to provide a dedicated technical resource that has access to further specialists within the team so that continual improvements to the Orion platform are identified and worked through the whole organisation.
Having such a continuous resource during the lifetime of a solution such as Orion means that they become embedded in the business and, therefore, can assist with technical solution delivery and align to the organisation’s business goals.
Benefits can manifest across the solution and business, as a principal goal of any monitoring solution is to provide knowledge and information to the company. There may be obvious indicators that a service is down or not working to the required level; this, in turn, may affect staff efficiency or even go so far as to cause business functions to fail. For example, customers going to another e-commerce website orders not processing through the ERP system, and many other actual-world conditions cost a business real money.
As part of the service remit, the continuous resource will drive improvements and increase the benefit of the Orion platform, which may otherwise not have an internal owner or help to know what it is capable of delivering and work to implement.
Project Based Approach
The management of any IT solution with many configuration capabilities, and certainly something that the SolarWinds Orion platform has as a breadth of features and function, is a separation between day to day and project-based configuration items. This is where the first of the distinguishments surface; our Professional Service engagements are project-based. We will be approached and work with a customer to identify for delivery known and agreed objectives. These will have target dates to work to, which we can determine how much time is required from our engineering team to implement.
Projects can have several catalysts for inception and, from our experience, are typically based on the fact that something is not working to the level it needs to. This then extends to delivery items such as migrating the platform to the cloud or to new servers to allow an upgrade to be performed but predominantly is where someone in the business identifies that more must be achieved. At this point, we may hold workshops or scoping meetings to identify the project’s objectives, work with the customer to determine the work effort to provide, quote and then deliver. This has been the mainstay of any Professional Services organisation for a long time. We work hard to make sure we have the best knowledge and experience, which for Prosperon is IT Operations Management (ITOM), for which customers pay for that knowledge and experience for their benefit.
What is right for you?
This is a complex question, but with some clear distinctions which may steer towards a Managed Service or work to project delivery:
• Does change need to be applied to a known short term deadline
• Is there an initial package of work required, which will tail off over time
• Internally owned and held knowledge is preferred, and the volume of BAU exists to have a full/near full-time resource dedicated to Orion
Suppose you evaluate the above and see that deadlines are not short term and that improvements can be applied over time. Perhaps the foundation for the platform is already strong, or that the team member with true expertise on monitoring and the ITOM stack does not need to be working within the organisation every day. In that case, the delivery method opens up options to work with an external consultancy like Prosperon. Identifying the projected amount of regular work effort aligned to BAU and project goals can fit nicely into a managed service offering, providing all the known and proven benefits such a purchasing model can deliver.
Service: SolarWinds Managed Administrator Services
Mark Roberts is the Technical Director at Prosperon Networks and a SolarWinds MVP. Mark has been helping customers meet their monitoring needs with SolarWinds IT Management Solutions for over 14 years.
Service: SolarWinds Managed Administrator Services
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