We evangelize about being a managed service provider (MSP), but we’ve noticed that some people are still a little confused about what that means, and how an MSP could help their. Essentially, a managed service provider remote manages a customer’s IT infrastructure under a subscription model. Sometimes that IT infrastructure is on-premises hardware or software, but, these days, it’s more often in the cloud.

That’s exactly what we do here at Bi101. We partner with more than a dozen different software companies, many of which offer a cloud-based SaaS applications for collaboration or accounting, and we help hand those services over to our customers. We’re more than a middleman—we help completely ease the difficulty of any IT implementation, even that’s in the cloud, to help our customers get back to the work that actually grows their business.

The other IT models

The standard IT model has, in the past, been what’s called “break-fix.” In this situation, a company maintains their own IT infrastructure, such as a small server, in a closet or underneath someone’s desk. That server might host an Exchange system, or a shared filesystem, and when it breaks, the company has to call a trusted, local IT services provider to come fix it.

The fix might be as simple has hitting the reboot button, or replacing a broken-down hard drive, or reconfiguring software due to an unexpected update. Or, it could be much worse, like a complete loss of data.

No matter the reason, the break-fix model inherently threatens the downtime of critical services. A breakdown might not happen for years at a time, but when it does, it’s a major roadblock to keeping the company up and running, and ensuring that key players are doing the work that actually builds revenue.

messy server Google

This is exactly the kind of situation we hope to help you avoid. Credit: Leo Koivulehto/Flickr

There are also other “outsourcing” models, in which the company pays a provider to help maintain that server to ensure the risk of breakdown is lessened. This can help for companies currently operating with the break-fix model, particularly if they’re having trouble staying on top of backups, updates, and other types of necessary maintenance. Still, this type of outsourcing involves hosting more on-premises physical devices. In today’s rapid-fire business landscape, that’s just too much risk.

Enter managed services

Managed service providers popped up in the ‘90s to help Fortune 500 companies better maintain control of their IT infrastructures, and with the advent of cloud-based software over the last few years, the model has become not only accessible, but completely viable for small- or medium-sized businesses.

Many people think that managed services cost more than the break-fix model, but we’ve found that simply isn’t true. Those who lament over the cost of managed services might not truly be understanding the hidden costs of  downtime. Every minute that your people aren’t doing good work is a minute that your business isn’t growing, or even losing money. When you really add up the cost of significant IT-based downtime, it’s not hard to see the benefit of going the MSP route.

We believe the true benefit of managed services isn’t just lessening the burden on IT, or reducing the risk of potentially critical downtime. Between 24-hour technical support and a staff that understands both the technical and business side of cloud-based software, those who choose managed services will find that they have a new partner in their path toward growth.

Bi101 doesn’t just show up when something goes wrong. Whether or not you see it, we’re always available, making sure that your company has the strong platform it needs to keep moving forward. Between our Business in a Box and Modelworks packages, plus a number of other services, we’re ready to do much more than fix something once it breaks.