Most IT departments, no matter how large or small, aspire to help their organizations solve business problems, develop new business opportunities and map new technologies to strategic corporate directions. But they actually spend most of their time and resources—reportedly up to 90 per cent of their operating budgets—just maintaining their existing environments. Smart organizations of all sizes are turning to third-party Managed Services to address this problem. Managed Services providers perform routine infrastructure monitoring and maintenance using specialized expertise, processes and technology tools to provide these services proactively and efficiently. In addition to infrastructure monitoring and maintenance (e.g., for desktops, servers, storage, networks, IP phone systems, printers, security), a comprehensive Managed Services offering may also encompass deskside end-user support, incident management, hardware break/fix, IMACs and perhaps most significant of all, a Managed Help Desk. By separating the routine maintenance from the strategic, business-enablement functions, smart organizations free their internal IT teams to creatively tackle the higher-value opportunities that they would like to address but cannot for lack of resources. Infrastructure Maturity Drives Business Agility A mature IT infrastructure plays a critical role in enabling the real-time enterprise do what it needs to do to compete–sense earlier and respond faster. On several occasions, Tuesday Technology Report articles have addressed the concept of 'IT maturity' and introduced us to terms such as Basic, Standardized, Rationalized and Dynamic that are used by Microsoft to classify IT maturity levels. These terms offer IT managers and professionals a framework for assessing current levels of maturity and taking steps to achieve greater levels of automation, efficiency, control, manageability, flexibility and security. So, how does an organization at one level of IT maturity move to the next? For a start, adding trained analysts and experienced technical staff with integrated monitoring and management tools is fundamental to ensuring quick, effective response to issues affecting operational efficiency. Having deep expertise and leveraging an IT problem-resolution knowledge base developed through years of experience lead to more accurate problem diagnosis for more precise troubleshooting. Often the best way to get this training and experience with the right tools is to ask a Managed Services provider. Another key element is to use advanced auditing software, asset tracking software, ticketing systems, monitoring software, trend analysis software, alert notification systems and remote management. In the hands of experts, these tools reduce human error, improve the accuracy of monitoring and tracking and facilitate better root-cause analysis. These tools can reduce labour-intensive manual tasks that consume valuable IT resources. A Managed Services provider can help you get these tools and resources right now, without months of training, hiring and associated technology purchases. Another aspect of IT maturity is represented by the Help Desk. Many organizations don't have adequate processes in place to document service issues that occur; and without this history, they have no way to improve their service process–and results–by learning from past events. A modern, ITIL-compliant Help Desk, staffed by trained, experienced staff and supported by advanced systems for problem tracking and resolution, technician dispatch and knowledge management, is a key step along the path to IT maturity. A comprehensive Managed Services offering includes such a Help Desk. Managed Services Adoption Growing Rapidly Some interesting statistics from in-depth survey work in this area are worth noting:
- Companies in the U.S. with fewer than 1,000 employees will have spent $7 billion on managed services in 2011 (representing 27% of their total support and maintenance costs), and this amount will grow by more than a billion dollars each year for the next few years (reaching 40% of total support and maintenance costs by 2015); 
- 62% of surveyed organizations currently use managed services, 63% of which plan to increase usage over the next 12 months; 42% of non-users intend to implement managed services within the near term; 
- The SMB Managed Services market, which represented more than 34% of the total Managed Services market in 2009, is expected to grow to over 40% by 2013; 
- 64% of large businesses surveyed plan to increase usage of managed Services over the next 12 months.
Overall, more and more organizations are recognizing the need and value of focusing on solving business problems rather than on making IT work–and Managed Services is an effective way to enable that. For information on Compugen's comprehensive 24x7 ITIL-compliant Managed Services offering, which helps customers optimize their IT infrastructure, e-mail me or call 1-800-387-5045.