When I first started working in technology, the world seemed to move more slowly. Before beepers and cell phones, few users expected network outages to be addressed instantaneously. Besides, I grew up in Minnesota, and when we were buried in four feet of snow, it was understood that we had to dig out before we could worry about things like phones or networks. (Unfortunately, with a per capita ratio of snowplows to people at 10:1, we rarely had “snow days” from school.)
Today, if the Internet is down for 120 seconds, you hear about it, and from a multitude of people (especially if they are snowed in and need to telecommute). The need to perform in any and all conditions is the very basis for why we need managed services.
As I look toward the future of cloud computing, I see more and more managed services on the horizon for businesses. While some may not realize it, cloud computing itself is a managed service. In fact, in the cloud computing era, there will be as many different types of managed services as there are types of clouds (I am talking about the puffy things in the sky here.)
For the biggest storms, enterprises will turn to trusted partners as they always have. For the average “partly-cloudy with a chance of rain” forecast, enterprises will be able to figuratively choose whether to take the umbrella on a day-to-day basis. The neat thing about the cloud computing model is the ability to turn up or turn down services quickly.
Managed services will benefit from the faster pace of the cloud computing world. As enterprise technology strategists continue to focus on shorter and shorter timelines (trying to align and execute against ever-changing corporate strategies), only a managed services model can provide the responsiveness that the enterprise of the future will require.
Anyone who does a lot of hiring knows that even the best due diligence on a job candidate doesn’t flush out every “bad hire.” Sometimes, it’s not until you see how the candidate performs for a couple of weeks or months that you know if you made a good choice. Managed services help enterprises mitigate the risk of staffing, especially in this day and age when you might spend three months finding the right job candidate only to have the person show up to a re-org on his first day of work.
Some managed services decisions are easier than others: should one hire a person to fly around to 28 different towns to install equipment, try to train existing staff in 28 locations to install equipment, or contract out the installation to someone who does that kind of work every day, with people in all 28 cities. Typically, but not always, that last option is best.
In the future, when you realize that the “fast-paced” corporate strategies of this new millennium are more likely to change without notice (from 28 cities to 56 overnight, from one list of 28 cities to a “new” list of 28, with only 12 remaining from the first list, etc.), it should be easy to see why the trend toward more managed services is inevitable. If the drama of your network sometimes reminds you of a being in a blizzard or pouring rain (or if you are reading this at 3 a.m. at the office because your network keeps you awake at night), then you can appreciate why more and more companies are asking themselves how they can best focus their energy on defining technology strategy and partnering with the best partners to deliver on those strategies.