The role of the IT manager is changing. From being a technology manager, the role is morphing into a technology facilitator. On one hand, the change is driven by increasingly complex IT environments. On the other, the growing sophistication of managed services solutions.
Many IT departments lack resources to manage daily tasks and pursue digital transformation as well. Typically, they rely on a managed service. This resolves the ongoing problem for IT managers: if they’re away, who’ll keep the lights on if incidents occur?
As a further advantage, a service provider who proactively fixes problems can be more economical and less disruptive than remediation after the event.
Then of course, there’s the traditional cost benefit of moving from CAPEX to OPEX. And more recently, the ability to save on procuring scarce skills. In fact, it’s estimated that IT skills costs have increased by 20-30% - if you can get them. The cost of managed services hasn’t.
Importantly, since a service provider shoulders some of the management burden, it releases internal resources to focus on more strategic activities.
However, it’s evident that managed services themselves are playing a stronger strategic role. More than keeping the lights on, they’re helping organisations pivot with change.
That’s welcome news to challenged IT departments under growing pressure as COVID-19 up-ended work practices. But the pandemic merely accelerated many of the existing issues illustrated below. This is where a managed service can deliver real value.
The growth of cloud
Already high on the agenda for many organisations, the move to cloud soared with the pandemic. The resulting hybrid work model forced major changes to network architecture.
Real-time visibility, security, traffic prioritisation and optimisation became critical. As the network became more central to e-commerce, customer satisfaction and order fulfilment, IT departments had to meet these demands while streamlining costs.
In addition to ensuring performance to the cloud, stretched IT departments had to deliver best performance in the cloud. Many had issues with stability, security and compliance. Or operations that weren’t as agile or cost-effective as they should be.
In response, forward thinking service providers like Telstra offered cloud-native capabilities like DevOps and an application-led mindset in conjunction with network services. This provided one point of call to both simplify and assure cloud operations.
Mounting network complications
In addition to cloud, other factors are making network management more arduous. For example, decentralising traffic is in focus due to people working from home. The current exponential growth of IoT - and future Edge devices – will also create further complexity and stress in the network.
Leading service providers can solve these issues with capabilities like AI and automation, using composable networks that abstract compute, storage, and networking resources from physical locations. They can offer tailored solutions to support near-real time decisions, performance and compliance.
The need to rethink security
As operations become dispersed, the challenge is not just to optimise traffic flows. Security must evolve too since the traditional perimeter defence isn’t as effective any more.
Security and networking need to converge. But that means IT departments will face a triple workload – traffic control, securing the perimeter, and now, all the access points to it.
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) promises to be the answer. Based on SD-WAN architectures, SASE unifies both network and cloud security. It also puts security where it’s needed - closest to the application’s point of connection.
Generally, SASE is delivered and managed from the cloud by a provider. The provider can offer better protection while reducing the cost and management load on the organisation.
As an example, Telstra’s Adapt S1 brings SD-WAN and security together in a single cloud model. It’s a simple, affordable and proven path to SASE.
With a hybrid work model, organisations often adopted multiple clouds and networks to access them. The result was multiple vendors.
Managing many vendors can be a burden. Apart from consuming time and resources, defining vendor responsibilities can also be an issue. Fragmented processes can mean sub-optimum performance, and if a problem occurs, who is responsible for what?
A single whole-of-service provider offers one point of responsibility to simplify management. Just as important, the provider has a complete view of the environment to offer strategic advice.
The licensing maze
With so many vendors and technologies, it’s no surprise that managing licences and their intricacies has become exceedingly difficult. Get it wrong, and you can be fined for a breach.
A service provider will have the necessary knowledge to cut through the complexity. In fact, licencing today is so complex, it’s one of the top reasons why organisations consider a managed service.
Managed services can be a partner in innovation
Today’s technologies are multi-faceted and evolving at speed. The rules of both customer and employee engagement are constantly being redefined. And in the background, industry standards and regulations are changing.
Keeping up with non-stop change is becoming harder for most organisations. They simply don’t have the resources and budget, or the time to evaluate new technologies and upskill for them. This is where a managed service pays dividends.
At the least, it can offer a single point of contact for design, pre-sales, deployment, commissioning and support to simplify the adoption of new technologies.
But it can also do a lot more. A managed service can reduce the risk of adoption, speed deployment, and ensure every dollar is spent wisely.
When it comes to maintaining environments, leading managed services have advanced capabilities like automation and machine learning to both analyse and respond to events. They can react faster and even stop problems before they occur.
Crucially, they can be a partner in innovation. Especially providers like Telstra who have close relationships with global technology companies, yet are vendor agnostic. They can optimise your current environment, but do so in a way that positions you for future change.
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