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what is managed services

Most of us are capable of mowing our own lawns. Yet, a lot of us don’t. Rather, we outsource that job to a lawn service. When asking yourself what is managed services in IT, think of the team caring for your servers like landscapers bringing in the necessary equipment to expertly care for your lawn.

What Is Managed Services?

Before we get into this, a little grammar. For those of us who survived 6th grade English, the words “managed services” constitute a plural. The question “What are managed services?” is correct English, while “What is managed services” would seem to be wrong. However, as is so often the case in technology, rapid shifts in the business lead to some awkward linguistic constructions. Managed services, as a collective noun, is correctly used in the singular form. It refers to a group of services as a single unit, much as you would use in a sentence like, “Professional sports is a competitive field.” Okay, enough grammar!

Managed services in tech refers to the outsourcing of a wide range of IT services that were previously handled by in-house personnel. For example, you could employ people full time to set up and manage an SAP instance running on public cloud infrastructure. This might be a bit expensive, though. As an alternative you could contract with an SAP Managed Services Provider (MSP) to take care of all the work involved in managing your SAP landscape.

There are virtually no limits on what can be arranged as a managed service.  MSPs come in a wide variety of sizes and specializations. They offer security monitoring, database management, hardware maintenance, data center operations management, backup and disaster recovery, SAP Basis admin and more. The need for your company to recruit, hire and retain skilled IT employees drops as you engage with MSPs.

What is Managed Services? The Definition by Gartner

Gartner offers an authoritative definition of managed services. According to Gartner, “A managed service provider (MSP) delivers network, application, system and e-management services across a network to multiple enterprises, using a ‘pay as you go’ pricing model.” Gartner makes a distinction between companies that offer managed services as part of a broader IT consultancy and “pure play” MSPs, for whom management services are their core offerings. Gartner also broadens the definition of MSPs to include other comparable businesses like application service providers, Web hosting companies and network service providers that supplement basic offerings with management services.

What is Managed Services – Two Types Explained

Broadly speaking, two main types of managed services predominate. One is IT services. The other is application support. IT managed services work like a bridge between IT infrastructure and the workforce who uses it. This could be things like an internal help desk or new employee onboarding. In contrast, managed services for application support are on the backend. They are meant to administer and maintain IT infrastructure. Application Support also helps with the installation and running of complex applications. This is what we do with SAP Basis, for example.

Another variant of managed services is what is known as IaaS enablement. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) enablement is typically an add-on managed service for companies electing to move their infrastructure to an IaaS provider. These managed service models range from hyperscale clouds which were designed with developers in mind, to managed application providers who run mission-critical production environments.

Services to Suit Your Needs

MSPs offer a variety of services, usually specializing in a distinct competency. Symmetry, for example, focuses on SAP Basis work and managed services for SAP in the cloud. This includes application support to help companies install, run, maintain and upgrade the mission-critical applications they rely on. These services range from day-to-day software administration and monitoring to upgrades and implementations.

Our command center, which runs all-day, every day, continuously watches the network bandwidth between the systems we manage for you and your customers. This involves monitoring network performance, but our approach goes further to offer proactive assessments of your SAP landscape. By analyzing report trends, we can quickly identify and remediate performance degradations, regardless of where they occur in the customer’s system. This ensures users experience quick, consistent performance.

We track multiple carriers along with the networks that transfer data between them. As a result, we can spot causes of performance problems quickly. If there is a slowdown in your hybrid cloud, spanning your on-premises servers as well as those we host for you, we can tell if the problem is with the server onsite, the one we’re hosting or on the network.

What Is Managed Services in the Cloud?

The cloud is no longer considered a “new” concept for enterprises running SAP. Many of our customers move some, or even all, of their SAP landscapes into the cloud. Cloud managed services is a natural outgrowth of this trend. A cloud migration itself is a form of MSP outsourcing. The cloud provider, not an internal team, manages the infrastructure changes. Many SAP companies want to go further, and they want an MSP to ensure the cloud runs optimally.

Poor cloud performance negatively affects the business. Analytics become sluggish. Customer experience suffers. Administrative work slows down.  A cloud MSP can help alleviate these problems.

Working With an MSP for SAP

A reliable MSP tries to solve problems before they occur. They should analyze your system to predict and prevent looming performance issues. As an experienced MSP, Symmetry also continuously tunes your ERP environment, producing regular health reports that include a wide array of data. In our experience, it may emerge that a specific workload is affecting performance by overburdening your system. Alternatively, we may see seasonal or monthly trends that require attention to avoid strains on ERP assets.

Working with a managed application provider can be an ideal way to stay on top of demanding production environment like SAP. As your SAP partner, we have the ability oversee your enterprise landscape and inform you about your systems using automated alerts and a self-service portal.

Our managed services also deliver flexible support models. This can help companies wanting to supplement their in-house talent with outside expertise. In some cases, it’s simply a matter of helping out when your employees are sick or on vacation.

Contact us to learn what our managed services can do for your organization.

Nick McCall, Senior Basis Consultant

Nick McCall is a Senior Basis Consultant on Symmetry's consulting team, delivering expert technical day to day system monitoring support directly to Symmetry’s valued SAP customers. Nick goes beyond performing daily database administration by also providing SAP system troubleshooting and problem solving – he is always willing to learn the latest SAP trends and advises customers to take advantage of new technologies should it fit their business needs. He pairs his sound technical knowledge with outstanding customer service. This is demonstration by his work on large customer project initiatives, most recently working on: S/4HANA 1809/1709/1610, Fiori FES 5.0, AWS/Azure implementation, SLT, BOBJ/BODS, Solution Manager full implementations and configurations, domain migrations – homogeneous, database upgrades, compressions, reorgs, and much more. Nick’s skilled approach ensures Symmetry’s clients receive highly disciplined support instilled with industry best practices to keep their SAP system continuously running smoothly.