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What’s the Limit of Managed Services?

Is there a point where managed services fall short?

Managed service providers exist to help businesses. Depending on the MSP, a client organization can expect a close, consultative experience in designing and implementing cloud and infrastructure support. However, is there a limit for what managed services should cover?

When speaking of what the client has to do versus what the MSP is responsible for and what they can do to go above and beyond that represents a line of delineation between managed infrastructure services and managed application services.

managed services

Is there a point where managed services fall short?

Where Managed services extend to now

From the MSP perspective, guarantees for how far up the stack they go is really code for the degree of managed infrastructure rather than managed application support a client can expect.

When we speak about going up the stack, every infrastructure provider is a managed provider to some extent. Some companies will always go a lot further than other providers. What determines that extent relates to the client. There are clients who don’t want to deal with the infrastructure. There are also businesses that don’t want to deal with technology. The latter group generally has a vision they want to bring to market but don’t want to be encumbered of having to create the things that make the vision work.

However, changes are occurring in the managed service space with infrastructure providers increasingly bleeding into application management. Many providers are looking to manage increasing volumes of services, from managed applications all the way through to more traditional managed database or reporting. This new approach has strong claims towards supporting entire healthcare systems, enterprise content management systems, enterprise accounting software packages, and more.  The MSP in these scenarios can step in and become the primary tier of support for client businesses.

Where does that leave client organizations in the spectrum of responsibility? The answer is complex and still evolving. Client responsibility used to fall on app functionality, resource usage, or API alignment, but now some clients are not even developing the applications the MSPs would be managing, choosing instead to outsource all application usage to vendors like Salesforce.com, Marketo, and other software-as-a-service offerings.

For example, in the managed healthcare space, a MSP might be managing Meditech from a system administration POV. The client company didn’t build Meditech, instead accesses it through third party software provider. The MSP has no control over how Meditech has written their code or anything else, but they do need to be able to stand up the infrastructure on that app and leverage their expertise to help the client achieve their business goals.

Where Managed Services End
The above example points to where MSPs need to draw a line of delineation, being at patient interaction and data level. The client would have to drive the internal training and adoption of the individual modules that comprise this healthcare software. They would also need to have their own non-technical administrators to manage the data from within the organization.

Perhaps the clearest delineation right now is that MSPs still do not manage the data inside the organization. By and large it doesn’t matter what their software package or field of business is. It also depends how the definition of what internal data means compared to external data is understood to be.

What MSPS cannot do and what they will never be able to do is take responsibility for the population of that data. Otherwise, the sky is the limit.

Thoughts? Let us know on Twitter @CloudGathering.

By Jake Gardner

Read the original blog entry...

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