With the advent of the cloud era of IT, more and more managed service providers (MSPs) are finding themselves in the role of managing infrastructures and services that they may have only played a small part (or often, no part) in deploying, yet are held accountable by customers for the continued availability of.
The role of managing third-party vendors on behalf of customers is becoming increasingly important to MSPs, and as such, it is becoming important that MSPs deploy more advanced monitoring tools so that they can meet their customers' expectations.
But what types of opportunities should MSPs be looking for—or, indeed, find thrust upon them?
Here are three examples where MSPs can deploy advanced monitoring to their, and their customers' benefit:
Monitoring Remote Access Solutions
Nearly every business now has some sort of solution in place to facilitate employees to work remotely, be that occasional working from home, full-time home workers, or the traditional “road warrior” such as travelling sales or service staff.
Nothing is more frustrating for these remote workers than to find they are cut off from company resources due to an IT issue. It often entails them telephoning the office to garner support from their colleagues—taking two people away from the work they should be getting on with.
For IT companies, monitoring remote solutions such as remote web applications is common—but how many IT companies simply monitor these solutions for the availability of a logon portal alone? How many IT companies monitor remote solutions to ensure the availability of log-on pages for end users, and also ensure that users can actually log on and use the service they require?
An IT company needs to consider doing more than simply monitoring web-pages for availability; it needs to ensure remote solutions are available at every level of access.
Monitoring Multi-Vendor Solutions
The MSP’s role of managing vendors is becoming increasingly important as the complexity of IT solutions are increasing.
Take a cluster of virtual machines hosted on a storage area network (SAN). The virtual machines themselves might be used by the customer and managed by the MSP with the support of a virtualization machine (VM) vendor, and run on top of a network provided by a SAN vendor.
If a customer complains of poor performance within a VM, where might the problem lie? The MSP will probably investigate, and turn to the VM vendor. The VM vendor might, in the first instance, suggest the MSP contact the SAN vendor. The SAN vendor may take a cursory glance at the issue and suggest the issue falls with the VM vendor. And so on.
With good-quality monitoring of each layer of the customer solution, the MSP can quickly highlight where the problem lies, who to turn to for advice, and provide the evidence required for the vendor to take the issue seriously.
The bottom line is, the customer won’t want to hear excuses from the MSP over who is to blame—the customer will just want a solution.
Monitoring VoIP Gateways
IT Infrastructures and Telecoms have long since converged. Many IT companies are now providing telecoms services, such as voice over IP (VoIP), and many telecoms companies are looking to muscle into management of customers' IT infrastructures.
However, there is a subtle but very important difference between IT and telecoms. Whereas customers will tolerate and almost expect computer faults, having been led to believe that computers work “most of the time,” if they pick up a telephone handset and don’t get instant service—their tolerance is much, much lower.
Traditionally, telephones have “just worked,” so the bar of expectation has been set high. Customers certainly appreciate the additional flexibility that VoIP brings in terms of additional features over plain old telephone systems (POTS), but they want this flexibility without sacrificing any of the reliability.
For IT companies, there is an opportunity to monitor IP gateways used by VoIP telephone systems not only for uptime, but also latency and reliability.
A basic PING check on an IP gateway will reveal whether the gateway is up or down, but it won’t reveal if there is poor latency leading to sub-standard quality during VoIP calls.
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