You Can’t Solve Your IT Staffing Problem with Technology

The biggest problem in many IT departments isn’t technology; it’s people. There just aren’t enough of them. Hiring and retaining quality IT personnel is difficult given the high demand.

There are some technical approaches to this problem that offer some help. Automation eliminates the routine manual work, but it requires someone to write and test the automation scripts, which isn’t always simple. It also means that when the automated processes fail, fixing the issue falls to staff who are now less familiar with the technology because they aren’t working with it every day. Finding the balance between failing to alert and alerting too often isn’t straightforward, either.

Artificial intelligence is starting to be added into data center support tools, but is still novel and the benefit is uncertain. If your environment is different from the environment where the AI was trained, its insights may not be relevant.

Using cloud greatly reduces the amount of support required from in-house IT teams, as the cloud provider’s staff handles a portion of the routine staff. However, data center teams remain responsible for their own applications in Infrastructure and Platform as a Service. Supporting these platforms is often complicated by limited visibility and limited expertise with this new technology.

So the solution to the problem of not enough people isn’t more technology; it’s more people. The best way for business IT teams to get those additional people isn’t by hiring them directly. Instead, businesses should look at IT consulting and managed services as an efficient way to add skilled personnel to their teams.

How Managed Services Can Help

Using managed services eliminates the challenge businesses have in attracting and retaining staff. In addition, managed services brings several other benefits:

  • Expertise. The IT employees of a managed services provider have gained experience working with technology for multiple clients. This gives them a deeper understanding of the benefits and challenges of a technology than someone working on an internal IT team. In addition, because they’ve often seen how technology is applied in multiple industries, they have a broader perspective and new ideas on how technology can provide you benefits.
  • Access to new technology. Introducing new technology is often slow because internal IT teams need to be trained and gain experience in supporting the tech before it can be broadly rolled out through the business. By virtue of working with multiple clients who use a variety of technologies, a managed services provider can assign experienced personnel to any new technology initiative at your business. The learning curve and ramp up time is vastly shortened.
  • Cost savings. Employees of a managed services provider aren’t your employees. That means you save money on the overhead and benefits associated with adding someone new as a member of your team.

If you’re ready to solve your IT staffing problem, contact CCS Technology Group.

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7 Sources of Network Problems

Solving network problems is a frequent task for IT departments. While there are many possible network problems, problems commonly arise from these causes:

1. Configuration problems

There are multiple places where misconfigurations can lead to network problems. These include IP addresses that are assigned incorrectly, firewall rules that block valid data, and pointing to the incorrect DNS server.

2. Hardware problems

Hardware problems can arise in any of the devices involved in networks, including bad network cards in users’ computers, bad routers, and damaged cables. These problems can be as simple to fix as tightening a loose cable or require replacing the whole device.

3. Overload problems

Overloaded networks greatly degrade the user experience. Buying a bigger pipe can help, but so can solutions such as blocking user access to bandwidth-intensive sites that aren’t required for business, such as video streaming services.

4. Network design problems

Bad network design can lead to both performance problems and security problems. Sometimes the problem is that the network wasn’t designed to provide the type of service being used, such as VoIP. Even a good network design that’s badly documented can make network support harder than it needs to be.

5. Security problems

Problems can be the result of malware or a targeted attack on your systems. Appropriate security tools can help block malware and detect attacks before they’re able to damage your systems.

6. Application problems

Poor application design can contribute to network overload.

7. Shadow IT

Although shadow IT is often used to describe unauthorized usage of cloud services, there can also be unauthorized use of applications and other technology resources on premises, and these can put excess load on network. Be on the lookout for unapproved applications as well as internet of things devices.

Many network problems can be diagnosed through real-time monitoring that shows where slowdowns are occurring. Applying policies to users and groups will help ensure the existing network capacity is properly used. Sometimes the best solution is upgrading the network to higher speed or higher capacity components, along with redesigning subnetworks to improve traffic flows.

One way to minimize the impact of network problems is through comprehensive managed services such as those offered by CCS Technology group. Managed services provide around-the-clock monitoring and resolution of system problems, as well as planning and preventative maintenance to prevent problems from developing in the first place. With network support, server support, and desktop support, managed services provide all your IT resources with the care and attention they need. Contact us to learn more about how managed services can help your network and your business run more smoothly.

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Managed IT Services Help Businesses Cope With a Crisis

The Covid-19 crisis is forcing many businesses to operate in a modified disaster recovery mode, with limited on-site staff. For businesses that rely on IT consulting or managed services, coping with this challenge will be easier due to services such as:

Remote support

When managed services include remote support, you’re already prepared for COVID-19 or any other disaster that prevents normal operations at your data center. Managed services can ensure your virtual desktop infrastructure is capable of supporting the load and provide help to employees who need assistance accessing their applications remotely.

24×7 monitoring

Coping with outages is tough at any time, worse when there’s chaos outside. The around-the-clock monitoring provided by managed services means problems are detected and correct before they impact end users. This is especially important when users are already stressed by the unfamiliar situation of remote work or reduced on-site staff

Experts on call

When teams lack technical expertise, they stumble through problem resolutions. Managed services mean you’ve already got experts assigned to keep your business running; you don’t have to scramble to find help in the middle of a crisis.

Staffing support

When in-house staff are unavailable, the service provider’s team provides a supplement, ensuring you’ve got adequate resources to perform key technology operations.

Backup and disaster recovery support

Managed services ensure your backup and recovery solution work properly. During the crisis, this is important for two reasons: 1) you may be relying on your disaster recovery strategy for day-to-day operations. 2) because of the existing staff disruptions, responding to any new disaster will be more difficult than usual.

Security when you’re most vulnerable

There’s been an increase in hacking efforts targeting remote workers. In addition, staffing limitations mean businesses are finding it harder to monitor networks and respond to potential intrusions. Managed services mean your systems are protected with all current patches, automated alerts ensure that potential threats are not missed, and security experts are prepared to respond to problems.

These benefits of managed services help protect businesses when they’re stressed during a crisis, and they also help companies function more smoothly during routine business operations as well. With managed services handling IT support, companies can remain confident of their capacity to operate no matter the situation in the world outside the office. Contact CCS Technology Group to learn more about the benefits of our managed services.

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“Shadow IT” is both a management and security problem. Leveraging managed services offers a potential solution to bringing it under control.

Shadow IT Problems

Shadow IT is any IT service that is accessed without the oversight of company information technology teams. It can be in the form of spending approved by business departments or it can be accessed by individual employees without the knowledge of their supervisors.

While the motivations behind this unapproved IT usage are generally good—employees or departments are trying to access the best technology to help them get their jobs done—it presents several risks from an IT management perspective.

First are the management risks. By definition there’s a lack of visibility into shadow IT. You don’t know what technology you’re using, you don’t understand your dependence on it, and you are vulnerable to outages if the service becomes unavailable. You don’t know the demand these shadow services place on your networks and other resources. In addition, you can’t manage licenses and usage properly, potentially leading to audits and penalties.

Second are the security risks. You don’t know if the technologies being used comply with the regulations relevant to your business. Because the technologies haven’t gone through any official approval process, you don’t know where their vulnerabilities are. Access isn’t being controlled properly. You can’t monitor for breaches because you don’t know where to look.

To resolve the challenges of shadow IT, you need to identify where it’s being used and then understand why employees are going around the official IT procurement processes.

Limit Shadow IT Usage

Network monitoring can help identify new hardware devices and new software services being accessed, as can employee surveys (that don’t impose penalties for admitting to such use).

Then you can take steps to block unapproved technology. Both policies and firewalls can help limit access to unapproved cloud services to prevent shadow usage. Data loss prevention tools and cloud access security brokers can limit the unauthorized movement of data to cloud services.

Eliminate the Need for Shadow IT Through Managed Services

Surveys can identify the reasons employees use unapproved services, but may not be necessary. The big reason for shadow IT is that conventional IT teams are a roadblock, offering limited choices of technology and slow approval and implementation processes. Other common reasons employees opt for shadow IT include frequent outages and poor problem support from the internal IT team.

That’s why managed services offer a solution to the shadow IT problem. With a dedicated team of expert IT personnel dedicated to proactive systems maintenance and support, the routine IT problems that frustrate employees are reduced. Managed services can also speed up procurement and deployment, allowing you to deliver better technology to your employees faster. In addition, managed services free up your own IT team to focus on business-specific IT solutions rather than routine maintenance, allowing them to provide forward-looking technology.

Contact CCS Technology Group to learn more about how managed services can help you solve your shadow IT problem.

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The Metrics That Mean You Need Managed Services

The time to consider managed services is when you realize you’re not getting the results you need by managing your IT yourself. How do you determine that? Assess yourself with these key metrics to determine whether managed services can help your business.

Infrastructure and Application Metrics

These metrics reflect the results you’re getting from your current infrastructure and your approach to support.

  • Are you getting the network and application performance you need? Assess performance details and performance variability, along with any user complaints about performance.
  • Are your resources under- or over-utilized, or are they appropriately sized to meet your demand?
  • Are you achieving acceptable uptime? Excessive downtime creates significant costs for your business.
  • Are your batch jobs running within their specified SLA? First make sure you’ve determined an SLA for every batch job—how long you expect it to take to run, and then determine how many batch jobs are actually completing within the required period.
  • Do you have frequent production problems? If you’re having daily, severe problems, that’s a good sign that your current approach to systems management is not effective.
  • Is your change process under control or do you need frequent, unscheduled fixes? Not only are unscheduled fixes disruptive, they indicate that routine maintenance isn’t being performed effectively.

Project Metrics

The infrastructure and application metrics reference deployed infrastructure. New infrastructure and changes to existing infrastructure happen in the context of projects. You should assess how effectively your IT is performing those projects.

  • Are projects being completed on time and within budget? Is the IT team overloaded with routine maintenance and upgrades, or are they able to handle the projects that provide business value?
  • Are the end users affected by the projects satisfied when the new technology is in place?
  • Are projects being completed with defects or with second phases necessary to complete items that couldn’t be done within the original schedule and budget? Additional phases are fine if they were part of the original plan, but if your team continually has to shrink scope to complete projects, you should explore other approaches to planning and delivering the work.

Human Resources Metrics

The IT work you can complete depends on how many IT resources you have, how skilled they are, and how long they stay with your business.

  • Do you have enough IT staff to complete the work you need done?
  • Does your IT staff have the skills needed to support the technology your business requires?
  • Do you have excessive turnover of your IT team?

User Metrics

IT is ultimately in service of the business employees and customers who use your IT resources.

  • Are the users happy with the level of technology they use or do you hear many complaints?
  • Do users receive help with their support problems rapidly or are there many delays?

To learn more about managed services and how managed services can help you improve these metrics, contact CCS Technology Group.

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IT Services that Meet Routine and Special Needs

The vast range of managed services available means you can get help for every technical challenge you face. Managed services can help you handle the everyday support and maintenance your technology needs or address unusual special circumstances.

Managed Services for the Routine

Managed services shine in handling the routine tasks required to support technical infrastructure. Whether applied to networks, the cloud, desktops, or any other type of technology, the routine services handled by a managed services team include:

  • monitoring. No matter how much you wish it were different, technology can’t be left completely unattended. Problems develop, and the earlier they’re caught and corrected, the better. Managed services can ensure there’s appropriate monitoring of system activity and logs to trigger alerts that allow problems to be addressed as soon as they develop. Developing problems such as low capacity can be identified and handled before they create issues for users.
  • maintenance. It’s even better to prevent problems from developing than to fix them fast. Routine maintenance services ensure upgrades and patches are applied in a timely way.
  • backups. Every business should be routinely creating backups. Managed services can ensure they’re created reliably and stored where they can be accessed when they’re needed.
  • support. Users have questions every day; a managed services team can provide the answers they need to use their technology effectively.
  • security. Ensuring security is a critical IT function that’s made effective through execution of routine procedures such as installing patches, keeping firewall rules current, and reviewing log files.

Managed Services for the Unusual

Most of your IT needs are routine and they’re well-handled by managed services. One-off occurrences and unusual needs are also a good fit for managed services:

  • new technology. A managed services team can help you introduce new technology into your data center. No matter how much training you give your team, by definition they lack experience with a new technology. Managed services teams have expertise that comes from working with multiple clients, and they can smooth your transition to a new technology.
  • disaster recovery. No one want lots of experience with disaster recovery. Developing a solid plan is tough and executing it in the middle of true disaster is even tougher. Managed services can calmly guide you through resolution and restoration of services.
  • planning for the future. Staying competitive requires more than keeping your current technology operational; it requires assessing your needs and opportunities and developing a strategy for the future.

If you’re facing an IT challenge, managed services from CCS Technology Group can help you get on top of it. Contact us to learn more about how our range of services enable you to solve your IT problems.

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5 Reasons Managed Services Are Good For Your Business

Every investment in information technology has as its ultimate goal to help the business operate more effectively, efficiently, and to help the business grow and succeed. That’s true when you invest in managed services, as well—it isn’t just about helping out your overstretched technology team. If you’re evaluating that investment, consider these 5 ways managed services benefit your business:

1. Focus on business

Because your managed services provider handles your technology, you can focus on what really matters to your business rather than stressing over how IT is getting in the way. This is true for your IT employees, too; rather than solving routine technical problems, they can leverage both their technical insight and their business knowledge to develop new ways to use technology that align with your overall business objectives. In addition, the support offered by the managed services provider can scale with your needs, meaning growing business won’t be hindered by a lack of IT support.

2. Cost management

Reducing IT spending without reducing the quality of your technology means you can invest those funds elsewhere. Managed services provide you with predictable expenses for IT services and support.

3. Increased productivity

With a managed services team looking after your technology, you’ll get more uptime, meaning your employees will be able to complete their work more efficiently. A managed services provider can keep an eye on your systems 365x24x7, meaning the systems are always available for employees to use.

4. Meet compliance requirements

Keeping current with changing compliance requirements is time-consuming; satisfying audits is a distraction from running your business. With a managed services team that’s fully up to date on your industry’s regulatory environment, your technology is kept compliant, making you more likely to easily pass audits.

5. Reduced security risks

Information security presents an ever-increasing risk to your business. Customer expectations are increasing, their tolerance for breaches is diminishing, and new data privacy laws make incidents extremely costly for businesses. In addition to thefts of customer data, thefts of intellectual property can have a direct impact on your business’s level of competitiveness. A managed services provider can focus on implementing security tools and processes that decrease the risks to your business.

Choosing the Right Managed Services Provider

Choosing the right managed services provider requires first understanding your requirements and then finding a provider whose capabilities match those needs. Be sure you understand how resources will be assigned to you, and how you will be charged and billed. Contact CCS Technology Group to learn more about how our managed services can help your business succeed.

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Choose the Right IT Service Type to Best Meet Your Business Needs

IT services come in several different forms. If the service type you choose doesn’t match your requirements, you won’t get the benefits you expect and will likely be disappointed by your experience. Make sure you know what different IT services offer so the one you select is a good fit for your business.

1. Break-fix

Break fix services provide support to fix problems after they occur. When hardware breaks or software fails, you can call the break-fix company to investigate and resolve the problem. This approach is entirely reactive and doesn’t look beyond the immediate problem.

2. Contractor

A contractor is effectively an addition to your staff without adding a permanent employee. Through the contracting agency, you’ll select someone with the appropriate skillset for the job. They then work under your direction on whatever assignment you give to them. While contractors are sometimes called consultants, a contractor’s services are less independent than true consulting.

3. Consulting Services

Consultants are brought in to solve specific problems. Unlike contractors, consultants are expected to think independently to develop solutions to larger problems. The scope of the consulting work is up to you. Generally, you provide the consultants a statement of the problem; they investigate to determine the requirements, propose a solution, and complete the project implementation.

4. Outsourcing

When you outsource your IT to a provider, you hand over control of your IT resources to the outsourcing firm. They handle all the ongoing support. Unless you request a project to expand or upgrade your IT technology, the focus is on maintaining your current infrastructure.

5. Managed Services

With managed services, as with outsourcing, you rely on a provider and their staff to provide you with IT services including monitoring and support. However, unlike outsourcing, the managed services provider looks towards your future needs. Outsourcing is “outside” of your business. Managed services providers are partners with your business and take ownership of resource-related issues, including making sure the infrastructure will support your business as it changes. They can recommend and implement the infrastructure you will need tomorrow, not just support the infrastructure you need today.

Learn more about the benefits of partnering with a managed services provider.

Be clear: none of these services is better than any other, but one might be a better fit to your business. It entirely depends on what your IT challenges are, the level of IT expertise you have in-house, and how much control of your IT resources you’re willing to turn over to a third-party. Contact CCS Technology Group to discuss how our IT services match your business and IT needs.

Interested in learning more? Find out the benefits of working with IT pros.

Give Your Managed Services Provider This Information If You Want Them to Succeed

After you’ve reviewed the benefits of managed services and completed a careful evaluation to choose the right managed services provider, you’ll want to take steps to make the transition to managed services successful. Gather information about the following topics and be prepared to discuss it in detail with the managed services provider:

Current IT Infrastructure

In order to support your IT effectively, the managed services provider needs to know every detail of the technology you use. They’ll want to see a detailed inventory and diagrams of your network, servers, and desktop systems. They also need to know about the operating systems and applications you use, including version numbers. Don’t forget to include the IT technology you don’t manage directly, including any cloud services and “bring your own device” mobile technology.

Current IT Processes

It’s likely the managed services provider will change the way IT services are performed, but to make changes easier, they’ll want to understand how your team handles things now. Have documentation about the current processes for monitoring, provisioning, and patching IT infrastructure, as well as your backup and disaster recovery processes.

Business Information

Providing the right technology solutions requires understanding business needs. Be ready to speak with your managed services provider about critical business processes, how your business is succeeding now, and the dreams and plans you have for future growth or new lines of business.

Priorities

Managed services providers need to know what your priorities are so they can make sure they focus their efforts on the things that matter to you most. Have details about where you’re experiencing the biggest problems and feeling the most pain. If you’ve identified weaknesses and security vulnerabilities, share that information, too.

Along with knowing the current problems that are your current priorities, let your managed services provider know about your future priorities, too. Share your plans for changes in technology, such as increased use of the cloud. Let the provider know if you anticipate an increase in demand, either from more employees using more online systems or from a larger customer base. If you expect to change core business processes or increase collaboration with outside partners, share those details, too. All of this information will help the managed services provider make better decisions about your infrastructure.

Key Contacts

Your managed services provider can’t succeed on their own. They’ll need information and support from your employees. Be sure you’ve identified a contact for day-to-day questions, as well as a more senior contact for periodic reviews to ensure you’re receiving the services and the quality you expected. It’s also a good idea to designate an employee for knowledge transfer from the provider, too.

Ready to get started with managed services? Find out how CCS Technology Group can help you meet your current IT needs and position you for future growth.

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Can managed services solve your IT problem? Chances are, it can: managed services are available to help you address almost any IT need. The scope of managed IT services available includes:

Infrastructure support

Designing, provisioning, monitoring, and supporting all your IT equipment is a time-consuming effort. Desktops, servers, storage, and networks all require ongoing monitoring and maintenance. Managed services provide the routine care plus problem resolutions services needed to keep core infrastructure functioning.

Information security

Every business holds both customer data and intellectual property that’s valuable outside the business. Protecting data effectively requires staying up to date with using a wide range of tools including antivirus, firewalls, data loss prevention software, and encryption to keep data secure. Managed services help you design an effective information security strategy and implement, configure, and support the tools that keep you protected.

Desktop support

Unlike your data center staff, your business folks aren’t IT specialists, and they need ongoing support to use their desktop applications. Managed services can address their needs, including user management, patch management, and help desk services.

Backups and disaster recovery

The burden of day-to-day support can prevent in-house IT teams from focusing on issues like effective backups and disaster recovery solutions. Managed services can make sure your backup process is efficient, in terms of time and storage required. Managed services can also make sure your disaster recovery process is able to take those backups and get your business operational again after a disaster shuts down your primary data center.

Cloud support

Cloud has made all kinds of technology more available and less expensive, but using the cloud requires both an underlying strategy and ongoing monitoring and support. In house IT teams lack familiarity with the cloud’s new way of doing things. Use managed cloud to ensure your cloud provides the services and security your business needs.

Storage management

Storing data effectively requires making multiple choices about storage technology and allocating the space available, as well as maintaining the equipment and dealing with any failures. Managed services can take care of all these issues for you.

Why are managed services so effective?

Managed services are effective because they provide you with a team of experts who can focus on your technology while your own team focuses on your business. Managed services teams develop expertise and insight from working with multiple clients, giving them deep exposure to technology, its uses, and the potential problems it may develop. They know the best practices and design patterns that support effective use of the selected tools and technologies, along with workarounds and quick-fixes that get you going until permanent solutions are in place.

Ready to learn more about managed services?

Download our guide or contact us to learn about how managed services from CCS Technology Group can help your business solve your technology problems.

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