For practical purposes, they sit somewhere between the traditional approach to managed hosting, which was all about the infrastructure and full IT managed services, which are about everything except the infrastructure.
These days, the lines between managed hosting, managed network monitoring and managed services are becoming increasingly blurry as the different vendors adapt their services to suit market demand. That said, here is a brief overview of the traditional model of managed monitoring services and where it sits in comparison to managed hosting and managed IT services.
A quick explanation of managed hosting
Managed hosting has traditionally been all about the infrastructure itself. A managed hosting partner will typically supply basic network infrastructure (e.g. servers with an operating system, storage and the necessary network connections), plus power and internet, but their responsibility usually ends with making sure that everything up to and including the operating system is up and running, not necessarily up and running at its peak, just up and running.
A quick explanation of managed IT services
A managed IT service provider does not provide physical IT infrastructure, but they can manage anything else to do with your company’s IT systems. Whereas an IT managed host will typically see their responsibility as ending at the operating system level, an IT managed service provider can manage everything up to and including data and applications.
Many IT managed service providers can also take care of managed IT security, although this is increasingly treated as a specialist niche in its own right. In fact, it’s even developing its own sub-niches, such as managed endpoint security.
Managed monitoring services
It is fairly common for managed IT services to offer a basic level of network monitoring. Typically, however, these are limited to checking whether systems are up and running and to provide an early warning in the event of a failure. While this is very useful, it is nowhere remotely close to providing the sort of benefits you can get from proper managed monitoring services.
Managed monitoring services proactively maintain a network and hence prevent issues
In the early days of business networking, an outage was a nuisance. These days, a network outage, even a brief one, can be a major disruption with a significant impact on the business. As a result, for many companies, the biggest single benefit of managed monitoring services is simply the fact that they keep a network running continually and reliable, preventing issues from arising in the first place.
A managed monitoring service provider will state in its contract what level of network uptime it is prepared to guarantee. As yet, no managed service provider is likely to be in a position to guarantee 100% network uptime (and it’s very much an open question as to whether or not they ever will), but a reputable managed monitoring service provider should be able to go well into the high nineties.
These days, network security is one of the hottest topics in IT and that is as it needs to be as it is a prerequisite for the protection of sensitive data in general and personal data in particular. For completeness, this would be a good moment to highlight that even if a company works in a B2B environment and hence does not capture personal information from its customers, it still has to protect the personal data of its employees.
Improved quality of service
Even the smallest of SMBs will generally have a wide variety of applications using the corporate network and in all probability, each of those applications will have at least slightly different needs and slightly different levels of priority.
In some cases, superficially similar applications can have different needs and priorities. For example, you may have an internal messaging system that also allows for voice calls, plus regular phones running through the corporate network. Essentially, these are the same functions, just used for different purposes, but in most organizations, the externally-facing (i.e. customer-facing) phones are going to have a higher priority than the internally-facing messenger program.
Managed monitoring services can identify bottlenecks and other jams and take remedial action. They can also provide insights into what action a client company needs to take to put a stop to recurring issues.
Managed hosting definitions