The widespread adoption of cloud computing is helping Irish businesses realise the potential value in managed services. Leslie Faughnan reports.
The hype about cloud computing in recent years has helped drive Irish organisations towards managed services according to George Dowling, head of managed service solutions in Ergo. After 20 years Ergo is one of Irelands leading ICT companies and a regular award winner. Its managed print contract with Microsoft renewed several times, at 15 years on is now the longest running in the market.
"Managed ICT services of many kinds have been in the market for a long time, originally mostly installation, maintenance and support and break/fix. Print and output brought the services in touch with general users to some degree. Today outsourced help desk services are already common. The business case almost always has the same major elements economy of scale passed on to the client by the expert service providers and taking the burden of routine or troublesome areas from stretched IT departments," he said.
What happened with the advent of cloud computing, Dowling said, was that more and more organisations started to examine the possibilities.
A high proportion then came to the almost inevitable conclusion that public cloud offering were not for them, but a managed services option was very attractive, especially in infrastructure and related areas. Whether the chosen solution then included some element of cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (Iaas) just became a moot point.
"There is certainly an Irish tone to the managed services market here, in that all clients like to know their providers and individual staff. The business relationships are as important as the formal SLAs," said Dowling. "It is in there also that the range of services so often grows. Help desk services are very much a case in point."
"Having got used to trusting an external MSP, an IT manager starts to really question why €60,000 to €80,0000 a year DBA or other specialists should be getting involved in 'urgent' level 1 password request on a Monday morning. The bulk of help desk tickets are commonplace, generic and do not require company-specific or domain knowledge to solve in a few minutes."
Security is a constant concern and MSPs have become very experienced at carefully minding their own areas of responsibility, “This is also an example of where a trusted relationship enables advice to be offered and take." Dowling said, "We now recommend encryption of data and communications whether or not cloud is involved in any way, for instance. That can be something of a cultural shift and client can need reassurance and help. But everyone realises that it is an inevitable step forward and it does add one significant security layer for future process changes or moves to could platforms."
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