So, the cloud trend is ripe for adoption among small businesses. At the same time, another trend – managed services – is growing among companies of all sizes that want to unburden their IT support staff from day-to-day tasks and free them to focus on strategic, revenue-driving activities. A managed service is a service that you completely outsource to a third party who manages, for example, a voice or data network, equipment such as phones or servers, software installations and upgrades, training, adding and taking away employee workstations, business applications such as email, network security, data backup and more. The cloud plays in integral role in making managed services as sophisticated as they have become today.
A recent CenturyLink Technology Solutions survey of nearly 600 IT decision makers revealed that up to 70 percent of all IT infrastructure will be outsourced within five years. And the marriage of cloud technology and managed services is making it possible.
For a small business to take advantage of the efficiencies that cloud and managed services can bring not only to the bottom line, but also to their peace of mind, it means turning over the end-to-end management of key IT services to a trusted communications and networking provider who can guarantee nearly 100 percent “uptime” and the most current security technology. And your IT staff will thank you when that old server closet moves up into the cloud.
Investigating a managed services approach to IT may be the first step for small business owners who are frustrated with managing disparate networks, keeping up with new technologies, reconciling multiple bills, making never-ending investments in IT infrastructure and failing to resolve issues on the phone with a call center. Managed services can also give a small business a better grasp on an important metric – the Total Cost of Ownership for their entire communications network.
By outsourcing IT services, these expenses become monthly operating expenses and no longer hit the bottom line as capital expenditures. Talk to your accountant about why the “Op-Ex” model is more attractive than the old “Cap-Ex” model. You’ll own less equipment that depreciates, breaks or becomes obsolete.
Finally, when you consider the benefits of the cloud, your business will migrate from a premises-based environment to a virtualized environment that eliminates the need to own redundant physical infrastructure for data backup and disaster recovery.
Start thinking like a global enterprise and decide when you’ll make a small move – or a big one – toward managed services and cloud. Perhaps 2014 is the year for your business to harness the technology that will carry you into the future?
Martin Flynn is a senior marketing manager at CenturyLink.