Iain Shaw talks about the shift to managed services for small to medium sized businesses...
As many reading this will already know, Microsoft Small Business Server has reached the end of its life. I know that this came as quite a surprise to many resellers that used to deploy this for their various SME clients because following the long established practices, SBS was the ‘all in one box’ model for smaller networks needing many features from the Microsoft Server range but on a smallish budget.
These clients are still out there and over the next few years they will need infrastructure refreshes and the channel will need to explain why the old ways will no longer work.
It all comes down to a change in thinking, a fairly radical change in thinking from the perspective of SME directors looking to upgrade their networks. Across the world internet connections have sped up and now the idea of running a network limited to local access seems like missing a trick. Security protocols and standards are now good enough to ensure that a virtual server sat somewhere or other is actually more secure than one sat in an SME’s server room.
Then we get to backups and the nightmare of the daily tape backup done by a receptionist who never really did understand what the point was and accordingly never tested the validity of the data on the worn old tapes; apparently this is all redundant too...
So to recap, a monthly fee paid to a Managed Service Provider will offer a system that works pretty quickly, is secure against unauthorised access, can automatically restore to previous versions of data if required, making it secure against authorised but non-too-bright access (employees idiotically changing and deleting documents and emails), is even secure in the event of some local disaster such as the premises being burnt down and lastly, this does not carry the onerous massive capital cost problem.
To a director of an SME to whom the IT network is simply a means to an end, all this is a lot to take in when served in a single sitting so I am sure that we can understand a certain degree of incredulity on his part.
To us, this is second nature and we have watched every development, small and large, along the way. To the old SBS client, it must seem akin to a seismic shift. Thank goodness for the capital cost benefits! If all else fails, the channel can rely upon that part of the message getting through and helping the client to make the appropriate decision – SMEs pretty much have to start using the services provided by MSPs. Oh and the best part for the channel? Multiple occurrences of recurring revenue results in increased value in channel businesses.
Iain Shaw is the founder and a director of Brigantia, the UK and Irelands largest subscription membership community of independent computer solution providers.