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Network and Systems Management On Demand: An Industry Outlook

The industrial economy has given way to the Internet and in turn created a new set of rules, opportunities, threats and challenges for business.
Feb 10, 2004

Mark Scott

The industrial economy has given way to the Internet and in turn created a new set of rules, opportunities, threats and challenges for business. The Internet is the new medium that organizations are increasingly using to manage their business and now they must quickly adapt..

The reliance on the Internet has increased the use of technology and the dependence on Information Technology (IT) to fulfill corporate objectives. This has caused the IT service organization to become one of the most critical components of any business.

The New Standard for IT Service Delivery
The concept of IT Service Management and network management has existed for as long as IT services have been recognized. Today, service quality demands are at an all-time high and technology users no longer accept mediocre IT functionality or service delivery.

Homegrown service methods and reactive service models have failed to cope with the ever-changing, mission-critical needs of today's users and have resulted in the expectation for more effective service management.

With this new paradigm for IT service delivery comes the introduction to outsourcing and managed services and the tools to deliver these services remotely, proactively and profitably. The driving forces behind these market needs are:
  • Optimization - Do more for less; provide proactive IT support to reduce costs and increase profits
  • Business Continuity - 24x7 assurance of the security and integrity of data
  • Corporate Governance - Ongoing monitoring, testing and reporting to address industry-specific regulations and legislation, as well as, stakeholder investments.

Outsourcing Tools of the Trade
Traditional Network and Systems Management (NSM) tools do not meet the needs of today's outsourcer or Managed Service Provider (MSP). These firms require a system that aggregates data from all customers across disparate networks leveraging the Internet as the communications medium (Web services model).

Other key attributes for the MSP include: ease of customization and interoperability with other tools, applications for security, storage and service-desk functions and no requirement to reconfigure the security infrastructure.

MSP: Managed Services Please!
It is no secret that outsourcing is being driven by these new set of rules. The question is: How do solution providers seize this multi-billion dollar market opportunity?

You have heard the existing outsourcing pitch, "ABC Networks is a total solution provider offering 24x7 managed services to provide you IT peace of mind. We are experts in networks, security, storage" The problem remains though, when you look at most of these outsourcers, they are delivering IT services in the reactive delivery models of the 1990's - block service, time and materials or project-based.

The evolution to managed services is not an easy transition for solution providers, but it is what today's budget holders demand. Organizations that are considering managed services to support all, or part of their IT infrastructure do this for three main reasons: optimization of existing technology infrastructure, expertise of the MSP and compliance with industry regulatory requirements (i.e. HIPAA, GLB).

It is important to understand the MSPs service management methodology (i.e. ITIL), its use of NSM tools to deliver the services proactively and its technical skills inventory to assess expertise. Request for proposals reward these attributes today more than ever before.

Delivering NSM software as a service, on demand, is paramount to becoming a "best in class" MSP.