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What are managed IT services?

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A managed service is any task handled by a third party, frequently in the context of business IT services. Managed services are a way to offload general tasks to an expert, in order to reduce costs, improve service quality, or free internal teams to do work that’s specific to your business. A company that provides these services is called a managed service provider (MSP).

The third party that delivers services is called a managed services provider. A managed IT services provider is most often an IT services provider that manages and assumes responsibility for providing a defined set of services to its clients either proactively or as the MSP (not the client) determines that services are needed.

The managed service provider is responsible for the functionality of the service or equipment, managed under a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The customer receiving the service often pays a monthly subscription fee. 

Organizations outsource the responsibility for maintaining, and anticipating the need for, a range of processes and functions in order to improve operations, cut expenses, and realize other benefits.

Managed services are beneficial for both large organizations and small businesses; new companies and established ones. Some of the benefits of using managed services include:

  • Filling the skills gap. Managed services can be good for teams that don’t have the time, skills, or experience internally to manage certain business functions on their own, or they choose to focus their efforts on something else. Relying on an expert to provide a service allows your teams to focus on innovation without getting bogged down in routine tasks.
  • Cost savings. Many managed services are tied to variable cloud expenses. These services can save you money on staff and training. Other managed services are tied to a fixed monthly charge. Using a managed service instead of building the capability in-house can be cheaper and the costs can be more predictable, which is helpful for budgeting.
  • Reliability. You can worry less about outages because the managed service provider is responsible for keeping the service available at all times. The service and support are provided under a service level agreement (SLA) so it is clear what to expect and when to expect it. An in-house team is often juggling multiple responsibilities but an MSP can focus on perfecting delivery of their specific service. This means focusing on the health and security of the service, applying patches and upgrades as needed.

Managed IT services can range from quite general to very specific, depending on your needs. Common services can include the monitoring and maintenance of equipment, systems management, remote monitoring and management of servers, network monitoring, and other services.

The traditional approach to managed services is a break/fix model which monitors systems until there is a problem to remediate. Many modern managed services providers take a more proactive approach to maintenance and management which can include patch management and predictive maintenance. 

Cloud-based managed services can range from specific applications delivered "as a service" (Software as a Service, or SaaS) to platforms and infrastructure as a service (IaaS and PaaS). These services can help businesses scale rapidly to meet increasing demand without the associated datacenter costs. Cloud-based services can also provide greater access to data, analytics, and storage.

Other companies provide managed security services for both traditional bare metal infrastructure and cloud services. Having reliable and trusted security experts is especially important to companies with hybrid cloud infrastructure.

The phrase "managed services" sometimes appears alongside other terms like "cloud services," but what’s the difference?

A cloud service is typically presented as either a public, private, or hybrid cloud. But not every cloud service provider provides managed services on their cloud whereas managed service providers typically provide the cloud platform on which their service is delivered as part of their service. 

Red Hat® Cloud Services include hosted and managed platform, application, and data services that accelerate time to value and reduce the operational cost and complexity of delivering cloud-native applications. Organizations can confidently build and scale applications with a streamlined experience across services and across clouds while Red Hat manages the rest.

Red Hat’s cloud services comprise a platform for developing, deploying, and scaling cloud-native applications in open hybrid-cloud environments. The combination of enterprise-grade Kubernetes, cloud-native approach to application delivery, and managed operations allows enterprise development teams to increase application velocity and focus on core competencies.

  • Data services provide on-demand data access, storage, prep, and/or analysis.

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