Preventative maintenance with remotely automated, outsourced IT

When buying a new car, you would not drive it indefinitely without maintaining it. That’s why most vehicle manufacturers include a service plan for routine maintenance and unforeseen problems.

Why then should you wait for a problem with your network, e-mail, software or data before you call an IT technician who charges you by the hour to fix the same problem over and over again?

Although comparing your network to a new car seems impractical, they share two commonalities:

1. The longer you neglect to maintain it, the more costly it becomes to own.
2. The sooner you detect and fix a problem, the less disruptive and costly it becomes.

What is remotely automated, preventative IT maintenance?

Exactly as the name implies, it aims to prevent IT problems within a managed, secure, remote IT support framework, by detecting IT problems before they become disruptive. Clipping levels are set for performing automated, routine IT maintenance to decrease costly downtime.

It allows an outsourced IT provider to monitor your systems over an Internet connection, giving complete visibility over all your IT assets and network status, allowing them to respond to, or fix IT problems quickly without sending a technician onsite or billing by the hour.

It’s almost like having IT health insurance. Most providers charge a flat-rate, monthly fee for unlimited IT support done in this way, because there are no major expenses or time demands.

What exactly can be monitored and automated in this way?

1. Windows updates (patching)
Windows relies on updates to fix security and data vulnerabilities. If you rely on users to allow these updates, you are leaving the fate of your network in the hands of your employees. Most employees discard updates, as they usually take up valuable time to install. Remote automation can schedule these updates to happen on auto-pilot in the background, without the need for user interaction. This means your network will be less vulnerable to malware attacks, resulting in less IT problems.

2. Virus protection
Anti-virus updates can be enforced and pushed to users instead of relying on them to update.

3. Software and drivers
With a remote session, your IT company can install software and drivers on your machine without interrupting your work or relying on you to do it. Remote sessions also allow technicians to resolve any software-related problems you might have immediately over an Internet connection, meaning you don’t have to wait for hours for a technician to come around. Less downtime, more productivity.

4. Data backups
Managed data backups can be performed or scheduled remotely without slowing down the network during peak working hours. Data can be shipped offsite for enhanced security.

5. New users
A remote session can be used to set up a new employee on your network and systems instantly. All settings, drivers and software can be loaded, as long as the hardware is connected to your network. This means new users are up and running immediately, without waiting for technicians.

6. Audit and inventory
Perform fast, accurate and up-to-date audit and inventory of computers, servers, and mobile devices. Deployable over the LAN, WAN, and Internet, making it easy to keep control of your assets across your network and a breeze when being audited.

What does all of this mean?

With remote sessions, monitoring and automation, you get access to a virtual IT department and support centre at a fraction of what it would cost to have your own IT department, or call in technicians to solve routine problems. IT could virtually pay for itself in direct savings many times over.

If you already have an IT department, outsourcing routine maintenance this way can cut your IT manager’s workload in half, allowing him to focus on strategic projects instead of fighting fires.

With automation, your financial director can get a monthly executive IT report with metrics that make business and financial sense, addressing all activities and tasks performed during the past month. This means they are able to better forecast and budget for IT because the executive report also states the network rating compiled during electronic audits as well as blueprints of your entire IT infrastructure.

By bundling remote sessions with preventative maintenance and monitoring, you can turn IT from an unmanaged, break-fix expense into a fixed monthly cost. Most outsourced IT companies charge a fixed, flat monthly rate for their services, including unlimited helpdesk support, because up to 80% of problems can be solved remotely, immediately at virtually no expense. In short, it enables small-to-medium businesses to play on the same field as large organisations with their own IT departments without the usual headaches, costs or risks attached.

It opens the door for smaller companies that understand the business value of IT to turn IT from an unmanaged cost-centre into a value-added part of their sustained business strategy. This allows them to compete better and to act on their own information and intelligence faster – because of increased uptime – while it is most profitable.

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