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Look around any industry today and we see a huge change in the way they run their business. From large enterprises, to governments, to small and medium businesses, organizations are moving deeper into the digital era where technology is making an impact on the way they are changing their processes and systems for growth and expansion.
While a number of companies are making large investments in IT infrastructure and upgrades, most of them are faced with the challenges of evolving technology, the need for highly skilled professionals, etc. Simultaneously, they are also aware that managing and maintaining their IT infrastructure needs to be given priority, and, with the lack of know-how and skilled personnel, the trend is now moving towards outsourcing these IT requirements to Managed Service Providers (MSPs).
Key drivers for increased adoption of Managed Services
Increasing use of cloud based solutions
According to the Cisco Global Cloud Index, from 2014 to 2019, the Middle East and Africa is expected to have the highest cloud traffic growth rate (41 percent CAGR). Cloud based solutions help business support their growth, and they are moving their business applications to the cloud to ensure greater agility and flexibility. MSPs help organizations scale down the burden of employing specialized teams for IT management, provide the complex compliance requirements and support the organization with the most suitable technologies that can either be taken as a whole or avail of smaller components.
Regardless of the size of an organization, it is a huge challenge to hire and maintain skilled employees across various domains. On the other hand, most MSPs are equipped with well trained staff and their expertise provides strong capabilities to understand the customer’s business needs. Moreover, a much larger pool of professionals is available to provide strategic guidance for maintaining the IT systems and propose timely upgrades for better performance.
Growing security threats
While emerging technology uptake provides a competitive edge to businesses and organizations, they are faced with a growing number of cyber threats. In-house IT teams are focused on the daily needs of the enterprise and more often lack the time to look into complex security needs. Specialized Managed Security Services Providers or MSPs can provide the critical 24/7 service and deploy latest security needs in a highly proactive manner. Simultaneously, the global partnerships that MSPs have helps them leverage the latest technologies and global experience in a cost effective manner.
Data storage and Backup
Data is one of the most critical aspects of any organization and it is important that it is protected, stored and backed up against any unforeseen failures or natural calamities. The risk of losing data can be fatal to businesses. MSPs are equipped to deliver these services as well as capable of recovering lost data with services such as data duplication across different mediums and locations. They can ensure continuous availability of data which is vital for the day to day business operations.
There are multiple areas where cost reduction is very apparent in using MSPs. One of the biggest advantages is the OPEX model which does not call for high capital investments. Many MSPs also offer a Pay-as-you-go option which makes a significant impact by paying only for the services used. The choice to scale the services depending on the business needs also plays a huge role in ongoing IT cost reduction. Budgets for employee recruitment for IT management are lowered with technical support staff now coming in as a part of the MSP’s deliverables. MSPs are aligned with global technology partners who are able to provide advanced technology to ensure business growth and provide greater customer experiences.
According to a Frost & Sullivan report, the GCC is expected to see a strong growth for MSPs with spends rising from USD 1.07bn in 2012 to USD 11bn by 2018. While the initial uptake was mainly by the large enterprise sector, it is expected that the small and medium businesses are showing strong interest in Cloud-based infrastructure services and will contribute to the growth of regional MSPs.
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Migration to the Cloud is showing an upward trend and the State of the Market: Enterprise Cloud Report by Verizon affirms the same - 65% of today's organizations are using Cloud Computing. In fact, this figure is sure to rise as businesses are discovering the many benefits of moving to the Cloud, including lower CAPEX, improved application performance and high scalability, to list just a few.
Having said that, Migration to the Cloud is a journey that presents many challenges. Along the way, you need to consider more details than you first thought. We give you a 7 Step Guide to get started.
1.Do your research!
Your IT team must gain a working knowledge of the Cloud migration process. They must also allocate a suitable time frame for safe and secure data migration. Once the decision to migrate to Cloud is made, you must also evaluate whether to invest in your own IT infrastructure or seek the support of a Managed Services Provider (MSP).
2.Costs VS benefits
You must calculate the costs incurred through current computing systems versus those involved with adopting Cloud Computing. This includes training employees, software applications and service provider expenses. Once this has been determined, enterprises can choose their ideal Cloud platform.
3.Define a transition Strategy
Determine the best possible way to implement and migrate to the Cloud. Outline the level of virtualization, or how many current applications will be outsourced onto the Cloud platform. This decision will depend on several factors, such as internal budgets, data storage needs, the need to implement a long-term business model, and security concerns.
4.Identify areas requiring external support
It is advisable to consult an expert on the complex technological mechanisms that will manage and store business information and internal data, such that organizations can use best practices to maintain the internal infrastructure.
5. Assess business needs and Cloud scalability
In case a company needs to scale up with increased storage requirements, the IT team has to ensure Cloud scalability without any significant downtime. Additionally, they must find out whether the increased data volume might result in greater service costs.
6.Customize your SLA (Service Level Agreement)
Larger companies often invest in and implement in-house Cloud infrastructure. However, by consulting a MSP, they can maximize the benefits of Cloud through customized SLA’s (Service Level Agreements). This should outline terms and conditions specific to an organization’s data storage and IT needs.
Outsourcing business information systems and applications to a Cloud provider requires operational regulations and transparency. It is important to establish these terms in the contract to ensure that the Cloud service provided meets an organization’s dynamic requirements.
Organizations must read the fine-print of their Service Level Agreement before the Cloud migration to be aware of the guaranteed uptime. Often, Cloud Computing provides an uptime of more than 99% due to the multiple data centers available to providers.
If you do it right, there are huge savings involved, as well as strategic advantages like agility and speed to market. And Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce beautifully puts it across - “If someone asks me what Cloud Computing is, I try not to get bogged down with definitions. I tell them that, simply put, Cloud Computing is a better way to run your business.”
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If you are a business, looking to streamline your operations and to benefit from cost savings - while enhancing your functional efficiency at the same time – the option to engage a Managed Services Provider must, surely, have come up for your consideration. It seems everywhere one looks, Managed Service Providers in the UAE are stepping in to augment the core strengths of enterprises, by taking on the critical but tedious IT tasks associated with the everyday working of a modern business. However, there are some critical things for business to consider in choosing the right Managed Services Company in Dubai, as in any other part of the world.
One of the most crucial aspects of a contract with a Managed Services Provider is whether or not their services are available 24/7, all 365 days of the year. After all, the benefits of substituting an in-house department with the services of an external entity cannot simply be driven by reduced costs, they must also be gained without losing the advantages of a legacy system. While advantages gained through optimizing returns on investment and the outsourcing of specialized functions does indeed increase the viability of most businesses manifold, it cannot be an effective strategy without round-the-clock support that reduces the threat of downtime and operational disruptions.
A state-of-the-art and best in class Managed Services Provider in Dubai must commit to providing a round- the-clock service that includes the ability to monitor, diagnose and troubleshoot issues as they arise - without such concerns being deferred to a specific period of the week being identified as “working hours”. Given the availability of Managed Service Providers in the UAE who conform to the highest standards of uninterrupted service, it is incumbent upon enterprises to partner with such service providers, rather than expose themselves to unnecessary risks in order to cut costs. While it may superficially appear that the viability of a business model is largely predicated by cost considerations, the losses and damage that can result from delays in service far outweigh such benefits and expose the enterprise to avoidable and grave risks.
Several Managed Service Providers in Dubai and the UAE have realized that, the presence of innumerable multinational businesses in the location they are servicing, comes with the presupposition and expectation of the highest standards of service, available anywhere in the world. An inherent and inevitable benchmarking of Managed Service Providers in the UAE, against the best practices in the world, therefore, means that there is now no shortage of such services in the UAE market. It is advisable that any business, opting for a Managed Services company in Dubai and the UAE, consider such a standard of service par for course, rather than a premium service. A slightly higher ongoing cost – that still retains advantages over legacy systems – is a small price to pay for the peace of mind from being assured of a constant and uninterrupted service that manages the Cloud and IT infrastructure of a business.
Managed Service Providers in Dubai and the UAE are simplifying the working operations of businesses and increasing their viability and competitiveness. However, it is essential for businesses considering such solutions to identify a Managed Services Provider who is taking pains to provide uninterrupted and round-the-clock services. While the functional lowering of running costs is an obvious benefit to a business, it must not come with a reduction in levels of service and accountability.
eHDF provides 24/7/365 IT support and service and a dedicated hotline to its customers. We also have 24x7 onsite physical security including security guards, motion detectors, and security cameras in our state-of-the-art Data Centres in Dubai. Write to us firstname.lastname@example.org to know more.
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With the increasing adoption of Managed and Cloud services, where either an entire or a part of IT function is outsourced to a third-party services provider, the need for unambiguous, easy to apply and easy to follow service agreements are becoming more important. The level of effort that goes into preparation of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between a services provider and the end-customer, is usually proportionate to the duration of the engagement. Typically, a longer term contractual engagement will have more detailed and rigorous descriptions.
A Service Level Agreement is defined as an official undertaking between a Hosting Services Provider and an end-customer. This agreement describes various aspects of the service including quality, availability, and responsibilities. The SLA converts the Hosting Provider’s services into a known function. This is particularly important where continuity and consistency of services from the Hosting Provider is important for the end-customer.
In fact, SLAs are now widely used in a range of IT related services. These include IT administration services, managed application services, Cloud Computing, amongst others. Another spin off is the use of SLAs by IT teams within an organisation to manage the expectations of in-house stakeholders and customers. This helps the IT team of the organisation to have its services justified, measured and benchmarked with other external IT service providers.
Hosting Service Providers need such agreements in order to manage customer expectations. They also need to define the situations under which they are liable and not liable for deviations from the expected performance. For the end-customer having a prepared SLA allows the services of one provider to be objectively compared with another.
A well written and legally comprehensive SLA may include as many as two dozen different heads. This covers Definitions and Interpretation, Term of Agreement, Service Provider’s Obligations, Client’s Obligations, Fees and Payment, Provision of the Hosting Services, Service Levels, Scheduled Downtime, Service and Performance Monitoring, Confidentiality, Intellectual Property Rights, Termination, Post-Termination, Liability and Indemnity, Nature of the Agreement, Severance, Relationship of the Parties, Notices, Law and Jurisdiction, etc.
Notwithstanding the above, a few of the more important clauses used in a Hosting Services Provider agreement appear below:
· Services - This is a detailed description of the services that will be provided and the end-customer groups that will receive specific services.
· Availability - This is a description of the uptime limits of a service. The service may also be described in terms of performance, business expectations and outcomes. The higher the availability requirement, the more expensive the service.
· Downtime - This is a description of the situation when the service is not available, exclusions for responsibility and force majeure, and the process of rebate linked to established failure.
· Response time - This is a description of the time to respond and rectify based on the nature of the failure or complaint.
· Escalation - For an externally hosted service, especially when there are time zone differences, this description is the most important for rectification of a fault. Going through a help desk or call centre repeatedly may not ensure timely rectification of the fault.
· Schedules for notification - This describes the lead time required to be provided when there are any planned shutdowns or disruptions in the service. Planned maintenance cycles are usually known well in advance and can be built into business outcomes.
· Benchmarks - This is a description of the parameters used to gauge the upkeep of the SLA and the point of responsibility for producing, monitoring and escalating these benchmarks.
· Help desk - This is a description of how the help desk will respond based on the nature of the complaint or fault and the end-customer flagging the complaint.
In conclusion, just because a Service Level Agreement exists, it does not mean that the service provider and the end-customer will meet each other's expectations. Leveraging the terms in the Service Level Agreement must be the means of last resort. There is much that can also be accomplished without resorting to it.
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Few things are as fundamental to the survival and growth of a business as the integrity of the information and data that is critical to its functions and competitive advantages. Data security and protection against malicious intervention by external entities, seeking to create process disruptions, is a clear and present challenge to several key functional and structural elements that a business is built on. Compromised security can lead to multiple disruptions and losses, ranging from financial losses, loss of competitive advantages, loss of client trust, downtime and compliance breaches.
Until the recent past, firewalls and other technological filters designed to restrict access and effect, have served enterprises well in their pursuit of security. However, with the introduction for several new technologies, such as mobile IT infrastructure, cloud computing, collaborative access to data with clients and partners etc. have introduced a new range of vulnerabilities and security issues. In order to remain secure, in the current era, companies must endeavor to remain abreast of the latest technologies and strategies that provide them with the means to secure their data and other IT related assets. Managed Security Services Providers are an excellent option to place such critical requirements and functions in the hands of experts, who have the specific skills to execute them effectively.
Security risks and challenges can be broadly divided into some specific categories, each requiring its own set of strategic, process and operational approaches to minimize and control. Managed Security Services are a handy way to address these concerns.
Here are the top things you must do to help protect your business in 2017:
Manage vulnerability through mobile access and cloud computing: Technology is best understood and classified as a tool, which inherently makes it vulnerable to incorrect or thoughtless use. All the systems and processes at the disposal of an enterprise require that they are deployed so that their utility is enhanced and their misuse or malicious use is curtailed. Both cloud computing and mobile IT access, by their inherent nature, draw their advantages from the ability of multiple entities to gain advantage from their use through multiple locations, platforms and networks. This multiplicity of access, naturally, also makes these technologies vulnerable to malicious intervention, if they are not properly deployed, with an eye on security. Real world protection against the misuse of these technologies is largely dependent on controlling unnecessary background processes and restricting the access of unauthorized and malicious entities. Delegating these concerns to a Managed Security Services Provider can be a very effective way to address these issues.
Design and enforce IT processes and cybersecurity measures: A response to vulnerabilities should not undermine the core advantages offered by a process or technology, as a whole. Fortunately, with the application of good strategies and design, IT infrastructure offers users an opportunity to introduce high levels of security while still keeping the system functionally agile and effective. Enterprises should invest the time and skill required to identify an appropriate Managed Security Services Provider, who can design their IT infrastructure and systems to enhance the end user experience, but restricting access to unauthorized entities.
Manage Networks, Applications and Platforms with an eye on security: The rise in the delegation of IT process to specialized external support and management companies, businesses are reaping the rewards of lowered costs and enhanced service levels. However, the compatibility of the enterprise and the Managed Security Services Provider needs to take into account the security oriented measures inherent to the design and operation of the IT system. In the risk versus consequence equation, security is one of those concerns that can either enhance or undermine the relationship. Care should be taken in the selection of a Managed Security Services Provider so that these concerns and issues are addressed adequately.
Create best practices and policies around cybersecurity: No system can be secured effectively without the active participation and commitment of its end users. While a Managed Security Services Provider can greatly reduce the vulnerability of a system, the adherence of end users to a well drafted policy governing their use and access is essential to the successful provision of security. Enterprises must train their employees to ensure the optimal use of IT systems without the introduction of vulnerabilities due to work practices.
The increasing trend towards the outsourcing of IT functionality to specialized companies is enhancing the competitiveness of several companies. The benefits of such a move can often be so essential to the future of a company that the decision to embrace the practice seems inevitable. However, as with any change involving an external entity and a new set of processes, care must be taken that the policies, processes and delegation of resources and responsibilities is well considered, well conceived and well executed.
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