What are Managed Services (MS)?
Too many variations of MS float around and it’s confusing. We are going with the definition, “Outsourcing of all, or part of information technology service needs such as 24x7 operations, and administration of network, security, operating systems, virtualization, malware, databases and storage to a service provider whose primary focus is to provide such services across a wide customer base”. A key test of managed services is whether the provider can provide these services agnostically, remotely, comprehensively and without a need for proprietary tools, or platforms.
What are 24x7 Operations?
24x7 Operations (24x7 Ops) or Continuous Operations means having in place the necessary monitoring tools to monitor in details (threshold monitoring) all components of information systems, and having full staffing of qualified system engineers present around the clock to resolve problems as soon as they occur so that the business impact is zero to minimum. Having some level of monitoring (binary), and/or having engineers on call covering only some areas of expertise is not considered having a true 24x7 Operations capability.
Why is it difficult to implement true 24x7 Operations?
Let’s do the math. So if you think it takes 3 engineers to conduct 24x7 Ops, think again. 1 engineer per shift covers only a limited set of skills, but let’s go with that. Now add weekends, holidays, PTOs and sick days and that number grows to 5. This is just to have a human engineer (did we just say that?) to look at the alerts. Even large corporations working in one time zone find it hard to implement 24x7 Ops for the obvious reason that there are only so many qualified engineers who will jive with the tunes of monitoring alerts and not quit your company as soon as they discover that restaurants, movies and parties are the place to be. Last but not least, information systems only break down Friday nights, in the middle of holiday celebrations, or when your company is doing a big product push. Experienced that? A true 24x7 Ops team is like being flanked by a SEAL team that can summon helicopters with Army Rangers at a moment’s notice. Yeah, that’s assurance!
Are there things you don't do?
Oh boy, don’t get us started. Most companies find it hard to focus. It’s easy to be distracted by shiny new objects and little pots of money. In our business, companies get sidetracked with help-desk support, reselling, staff-augmentation, application coding, and selling vacuum cleaners. But we refuse to be distracted! We don’t do any of these things. If you have managed mission-critical systems, you know that it’s kind of like keeping the rappelling rope tight. One distraction and the climber is descending rapidly towards terra firma. So, we keep our eyes peeled on the systems. Our customers like that.
What product do you resell?
Can you really trust someone to make the right decisions for you if they get a kickback every time they make a recommendation? We pride ourselves on maintaining our loyalty to our customers. It’s our Pledge of Allegiance if you will. The fact is that there are so many good technologies out there. We like to pick just the right ones for our customers to suit their exact needs. We don’t want to be bound by alliances that will diminish our ability to be objective. So, long story short, we don’t resell anything, but we will certainly help recommend the right stuff from the right resellers on best terms.
Do you do projects?
Glad you asked. We do several types of Projects. The most common that we are tasked with are: install detailed monitoring, automated Windows patching, upgrade backup infrastructure, upgrade backup infrastructure, migrating infrastructure from server room to a colo, MS Exchange upgrade and VMware builds/upgrades. When we do projects for customers we manage systems on an ongoing basis, the inherent knowledge and the existing working relationship allows us to do those projects in lesser cost and time than anyone else. Sometimes, projects are the entry into managing a customer’s infrastructure 24x7. Either way, we like them projects!
Do you manage applications?
The list of applications we manage is 1.5 long. No typo there. We manage Microsoft Exchange in its entirety and we manage the infrastructure part of Microsoft Sharepoint. And that’s it. We are just not the application type you see. Oh, we do have a great relationship with those application types though. We work with them to deploy new applications – hold hands and walk the distance all the way from sandbox to go-live. We routinely collaborate to make a stuck app unstuck, thaw a frozen database, or even work with the end-user and developers to solve a pesky application problem. But for most part we let them do their stuff and we do ours. It also keeps things honest when it comes to compliance issues.
Do you own datacenters?
Have you seen one? Sure you have. Those warehouse sized buildings with enough power to bake the largest cake for the Guinness Book of World Records. We love datacenters and respect folks who build and operate them. After all that’s real engineering you know. However, we don’t own any. We partner with them a lot, have worked with so many over many years and understand how to work with them. Why, we even manage every aspect of your datacenter needs, from selecting the right colo facility to provisioning to setting up and ongoing operations aspects; so you don't have to worry about any of that physical stuff.
Which vendors do you support?
We support most major vendors in all areas of IT, from networking and security in the front, to storage and databases in the back. Please refer to the list of Supported Technologies here.
Do you provide help desk support?
Noooooo! As we see the IT world, there are two sides to it. The Help Desk/User Management Side and the backend side. We like to believe that we are the masters of the backend engineering. We just like those big servers. We hear them, we talk to them, and we make them hum to our tune. Then there are little laptops and mobile devices. We do lend a helping hand to our counterparts on the Help Desk side when they have difficulty reaching the backend, but as a general rule, we don't cross the border of a local firewall into an office.
What is Stratogents delivery structure?
Great question! Here at Stratogent we pride ourselves on delivering a collaborative experience for all of our customers. Every account, no matter how large or small, is assigned a Solution Delivery Manager. The Solution Delivery Manager, or SDM, is your point-of-contact who you will do a majority of your daily interaction with. Working with them is their dedicated team of admins, which help with all level II and level III support and assist in any Projects. This team will act as a backup to the SDM should they be away for any reason. All system alerts go to our 24x7 NOC, which follows our standard Service Flow. When additional expertise is needed, we have our Global Services team who are experts in their respective areas such as Networking, Monitoring, Storage, Backups, etc..