Managing Your Computer Network

Just like computer technology itself, the services that manage your computer network have dramatically changed over the past 20 years. There was a time when the only option you had when your computer had problems, was to unplug it and bring it to the company you bought it from. That was truly the beginning of the break-fix computer solution.

The amazing thing though, is that even though “Managed Services” has become mainstream, the break-fix philosophy is still prevalent today. Granted, IT service companies will now come to you, but the break-fix mentality is still very prevalent – But all that is changing … and changing quickly.

First we’ll look at the break-fix philosophy and how far that’s taken us. Next, we’ll discuss the next higher level of IT management, called “Managed Services”. And finally we’ll introduce you too where we’re all eventually going, which is called “cloud computing”, also known as “The Cloud”.

The Break-Fix Philosophy

Computer Network Management - Minneapolis, St Paul, Edina

Most computer networks for small to medium sized businesses developed as simple systems, usually built by a self taught network amateur-turned-pro. Maintenance was break-fix only, meaning when something broke, the customer called and the tech came running to fix it … hopefully. Companies were often times held hostage while they waited for a quasi computer expert to arrive at their business — often taking days.

As time went on, the best of the support people developed procedures and programs to periodically come on-site to do a system review of logs and user information looking for hints of issues before they became big problems. In some cases an elaborate checklist was used to record disk usage, processor usage, etc.

The problem, of course, was that the company could only see what was happening on that particular day. If something happened later, they would never know about it … unless the customer called.

Backup problems and other errors continued to occur

Additionally, the only professional test of the backup system was on the visit, which frequently resulted in days or more of missed backups. The system was prone to other human errors when the on-site technician, trying to be accommodating, would take care of the “end user” symptoms and would not have time to address the “real issues”. This created a constant battle for the tech as they tried to convince customers that they were only causing themselves more dangerous problems down the road by not being proactive.

Companies began to question the break-fix philosophy

A Break-fix network maintenance service fixes problems as they crop up. This means that something needs to go wrong before you receive any service, resulting in an inevitable reduction in IT system performance while you wait for the problem to be fixed.

Today, no business can really afford the risk and uncertainty of relying on a “Break-fix maintenance service” because your business is too dependent on having a reliable IT system. Furthermore, having separate suppliers responsible for different parts of the system puts you in the difficult position of trying to decide who should be delivering the service you require. You simply do not have time for this.

New alternatives to the “break-fix” scenario began to emerge

Computer Network Management - Minneapolis, St Paul, Edina

The break-fix IT scenario continues to be the way the majority of small to medium sized businesses manage their computer networks. They go about their business every day waiting for something to happen, and when it does, they call in their “computer experts” to save the day…or at the bare minimum, fix the problem.

The truth is, there is a much better and cost-effective way to manage your network. Technology solutions for your company have drastically changed over the past 5-10 years—you’ve probably lived through most of them. Can you remember a time when there wasn’t a computer on everyone’s desk? When the only thing available was a tape backup, or when all employees didn’t have access to the internet?

The times change, and technology usually changes with it…not always for the better, but in most cases the solutions that stick around - stick around for a reason. And of course the first companies that benefited from these changes were the ones with money – the Fortune 500 companies…

Managed Services:
A break-through for Fortune 500 companies

At the same time, the hardware and software vendors were adding new and better ways for the systems to signal problems as early as possible. Simple Network Management Protocol had been developing since the early 90’s and was being applied to PC’s. The first systems that could watch these tools and turn all the data into usable information were complex to manage, were geared only to large networks, and were prohibitively expensive for small business.

In 2005, systems started to mature that allowed smaller companies to take advantage of the same features and benefits as the large companies. This technology started the “Managed Services” movement.

Finally, Managed Services for small to medium sized businesses

Once all of the large Fortune 500 companies incorporated “managed services” into their IT worlds, it was only a matter of time before the service would be available and affordable to small to mid-sized businesses.

Exactly what is managed services?

Every day more and more businesses are turning to a Managed Services Company to service their computer and technology needs. But what does managed services actually mean and how can you tell if an IT Support company is not just using the word as a marketing tool, but is in fact only offering “flat rate” services packaged as “managed services’?

As a definition, managed services allow a business to offload IT operations to a company known as a Managed Services Provider. The managed service provider assumes an ongoing responsibility for 24-hour monitoring, managing and/or problem resolutions for the IT systems within a business.

Why the hype with Managed Services?

Just like larger companies, small businesses need technology to operate efficiently and to compete effectively. But as reliance on IT grows, the resources needed to support this increasingly complex IT environment may not. In many small businesses, IT resources are limited and can be quickly overwhelmed.

If you fall behind in keeping up with things such as backups, patches and security, the odds greatly increase that you’ll face an IT outage or another problem down the road that will negatively impact your business. For instance, if your Email server, customer relationship management system, financial application or network goes down, you will likely face substantial productivity and revenue losses as a result.

Interested in learning more about Managed Services?

Follow the link below to learn the history of “managed services”, the major benefits, and you’ll get all of your questions answered so you can determine if it’s right for your company.

Understanding Managed Services

Computer Network Management - Minneapolis, St Paul, Edina

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing:
The Next Generation of IT Support

Clouding computing, or “The Cloud” as it is also known by, has become a huge buzzword over the past year. But don’t feel bad if you’re not really sure what the term really means, because you’re not alone. People interpret “cloud computing” in many different ways.

What is “The Cloud?

There are no shortages of opinions in the IT world regarding the definition of “cloud computing.” But in a nutshell, “cloud computing” is a new way of delivering IT services for businesses that are scalable and affordable–end users can deploy the services they need, when they need them. Many of those services are available over the Internet and users are only charged for what they consume.

The Cloud Computing market is typically segmented into public clouds (services offered over the internet), private clouds (internal enterprise) and hybrid clouds (a mix of both). The Public Cloud market is often sub-segmented into IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service), PAAS (Platform as a Service) and SAAS (Software as a Service).

Cloud Computing Possibilities

What can you do in the cloud?

Pretty much anything and everything … from Email, websites, databases, project management, snail mail, online storage of documents, voicemail and more.

What makes the cloud so different?

  • No Infrastructure; If you have access to the internet, you have access to the cloud
  • Quick Start: Try before you buy, and get up and running very quickly
  • It’s Open: Internet standards and web services allow you to connect services to each other

Become A Quick Cloud Expert

Here you’ll learn everything you need to know about

cloud computing and how it will impact your business

Cloud Computing