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IT managed services providers guide for enterprise CIOs

Many enterprise companies are establishing IT managed services provider strategies to cover new services and delivery models. Learn more in this IT managed services provider guide.

As many enterprise organizations have cut staff in recent years, some are turning to IT managed services providers to provide consistent service levels at affordable prices. These managed services providers often tackle system or application maintenance, monitoring and other tasks, freeing up in-house staff to take on other pressing issues.

Has your company established an IT managed services provider strategy covering popular services like applications, delivery models like cloud computing, and areas like disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC)? Read the stories linked below to learn more about establishing an IT managed services provider program.

This guide is part of SearchCIO.com's CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic guidance and advice that addresses the management and decision making aspects of timely topics. For a complete list of topics covered to date, visit the CIO Briefings section of SearchCIO.com.

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  Setting a managed services provider strategy
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As IT leaders, we have many choices among IT services and IT managed service providers. We can tap into everything from network design, monitoring and management to outsourced email management, to storage services -- all without leaving our desks.

When I look to vet potential IT managed service providers, I pay attention to two areas:

  • I check their references -- and to avoid getting only the positive spin, I select and call references from their entire customer list.
  • I check under the hood of the technologies they are using, and make sure their internal systems consist of high-quality, industry-standard technologies.

Using outside IT managed service providers is not without its challenges, however.

Learn more in "IT managed service providers: Taking a measured approach". Also:

  • IT service provider consolidation tips: A CIO talks vendor management
    IT service provider consolidation can simplify enterprise IT vendor-management strategies, says our CIO columnist. Learn how to categorize IT services and ace vendor consolidation.
  • More CIOs consider IT managed services to deal with new technologies
    A report from Forrester Research Inc. says the confluence of a scary economy and rapidly evolving technologies will drive explosive growth in IT managed services.
  Using managed services providers for applications and the cloud
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IT security typically has been deemed one of those services best provided in-house. But the stigma attached to outsourcing security and to Security as a Service -- namely, that an outsider does not know your company well enough to protect it -- may be loosening its grip as businesses look for more ways to cut costs.

"Because the economy is struggling, I think there will be enough excitement in the marketplace over the cost benefits of Security as a Service that we are going to see a much higher degree of willingness to look at it as a real, viable option," said Jason Hilling, an enterprise services business-line executive with IBM Internet Security Systems.

Learn more in "Options for outsourcing security grow, offer IT budget savings." Also:

  • Enterprises look beyond Gmail, cloud for email outsourcing services
    Email outsourcing is taking off in enterprises as CIOs consider managed or hosted email services rather than Gmail or a full cloud-based email approach. Learn more here.
  • SaaS, cloud computing lead to cuts in application hosting pricing
    Analysts expect application hosting pricing to decline due to cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS), but not everyone will be able to renegotiate their contracts. Here's what's going on.
  • CIO's guide to outsourcing application development and management
    Application outsourcing will lead enterprise CIO agendas again next year, with IT application development and management services in high demand. Learn more in this guide.
  How managed services providers can benefit DR/BC and security
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CIOs are signing on to managed IT services for DR planning and BC services. With the right DR/BC plan in place, employees can resume working as soon as possible after a disaster. Finding the appropriate strategy, however, and focusing the business around it, can be a challenge.

From weighing the risks and benefits of using managed IT services for DR/BC plans, to understanding the options available and contract terms, get the lowdown on DR/BC services.

Learn more in "Managed IT services for disaster recovery and business continuity." Also:

  • Remote-location disaster recovery risks
    With multiple remote locations, there's often risk associated with disaster recovery policies and technologies. Learn about the challenges of remote-location disaster recovery.
  • Security, storage give rise to managed services
    The managed services model is catching on, say experts, as an increasing number of small and medium-sized businesses struggle with the rising costs of managing IT.
  IT managed services provider success stories
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Hurricane Katrina brought clouds of a different sort to Schumacher Group, a Lafayette, La., provider of medical informatics to 2,500 emergency room physicians and administrators nationwide. "I recognized the susceptibility of our data center," CIO Douglas Menefee said.

Following the storm, Menefee moved 10% to 15% of Schumacher's sales force and recruiting processes into the cloud with implementations from Salesforce.com Inc. and the related Force.com development environment for the Salesforce.com platform. Next to be moved were customer relationship management, financials, e-signatures, email for providers, email marketing, tax filing, contract management, and time and attendance processes. Those were handed over to a variety of SaaS providers. To date, 85% of the company's business processes reside in the cloud, an effort that made the business resilient but led to a "spaghetti bowl" of multiple passwords. "As we brought on cloud services, the challenge was identity management," Menefee said. "We needed single sign-on."

Learn more in "A CIO's approach to managing single sign-on in the cloud." Also:

  • Firm moves from tape backup to managed backup and recovery service
    The move from tape to disk-based replication continues, as does the demand for online backup and DR services. Just ask the CIO of a $200 million nonprofit in hurricane-prone Houston.
  More resources
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