Director of Managed Services,

It’s a quandary many organizations face regarding cloud IT services. They can go the do-it-yourself (DIY) route, keeping most, if not everything, involving their IT environments in-house, or they can outsource the responsibilities to a third-party company.

Both options offer certain benefits, depending on a company’s specific business and digital transformation needs. The problem – one of them, anyway – is that IT operations today go far beyond applications and desktop computers. They’re now critical to meeting key business initiatives.

This creates a challenge for many organizations. Their IT staff are already busy deploying new software, staying on top of evolving cybersecurity threats, maintaining hardware and handling other day-to-day tasks. Few have the time or expertise to step back and create a comprehensive strategy that aligns with their organization’s overall goals.

That’s why companies must consider how outsourcing certain aspects of IT operations to a managed services provider can help them. The following are five benefits of managed services to consider when determining whether to outsource to a managed cloud service provider or go with the DIY IT approach.

Free Up Internal Resources

In discussions about managed services, freeing up internal resources gets mentioned a lot, and for good reason. It’s one of the biggest benefits of IT outsourcing.

Offloading routine IT tasks, such as system monitoring and patching, enables in-house IT professionals to focus on the business, whether that entails developing products, improving operational efficiency, or other strategic endeavors. These are the kind of initiatives that are essential to enabling organizations to undergo critical digital transformation and gain and maintain a competitive edge.

But it’s not just routine tasks that can be handed off to managed services providers, particularly regarding cloud environments. Managed service providers can take on things like cloud security monitoring, reporting and technical support, as well as forecasting, planning, optimizing and allocating cloud spending effectively across various channels, which frees up internal IT staff time and enables organizations to get more value out of their cloud resources.

Rather than spending time researching best practices, trying to stay on top of trends that impact their cloud environments, and going through all the steps required to invest in the latest and greatest tools, internal IT departments can count on their managed services providers to take on those responsibilities.

Tap Needed Expertise

A lot of IT projects are relatively straightforward and don’t require special expertise. However, some run high on the complexity scale, tend to be time-consuming and may require experience beyond what in-house IT professionals possess.

In many cases, these are high-profile projects with a lot riding on them. They could entail migrating regulated workloads to the cloud, or developing applications that employ advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence. If these projects aren’t executed correctly, they can result in business-disrupting downtime, product failures or other consequences.

Midway through one of these projects is not the time to determine your staff doesn’t have the right skills to pull it off. However, it’s also not cost-effective for companies to hire full-time employees with the requisite experience and expertise just for a single project.

Using managed services solves the issue by allowing organizations to access the necessary project-specific resources. The key is to work with managed service providers that have proven success in the type of project you need delivered. In addition to benefiting from the provider’s experience and knowledge, by partnering with a managed services provider your team can learn along the way.

Improve and Optimize

A successful digital transformation project doesn’t end with deployment to the cloud. In-house teams often must move on to the next task. They aren’t always available to provide the ongoing enhancements that help ensure that a solution is leveraged to its full potential and the business gets a return on its technology investment.

For a managed services provider, this responsibility is often part of the project scope. It’s in their interest to not only develop an optimal solution, but to take the added steps after deployment to ensure the solution works as expected and delivers the anticipated value.

The best managed services providers have broad cloud expertise in ongoing optimization. That optimization encompasses both application and infrastructure performance, as well as cost control.

These companies employ tools such as user enablement frameworks, ROI reporting, cost audits and continuous improvement to ensure the cloud solutions they develop and implement deliver long-term value.

Access Service When Needed

Many in-house IT staff are available around the clock. However, that doesn’t mean they’re available to handle specific issues that might arise with a cloud environment or service. That often requires special expertise that might not be available within a company. Plus, internal IT staff are often already bogged down by competing priorities. Even if they have the expertise to deal with an urgent issue, there’s no guarantee that they have the availability to do so.

Among the benefits of contracting for cloud managed services is that expert support is just a phone call, text or email away. Most managed services providers that offer 24/7 technical support also provide service level agreements (SLAs) that specify the amount of time in which they’ll address customer requests.

Some of these companies also offer support arrangements that can be customized to customers’ needs. That may include delivery of support during specified times or a block of hours that can be used at any time. This kind of flexibility helps supplement internal IT resources and provides for access to the expertise needed, when it’s needed, without a long-term investment.

Enhance Security

This is another area where going with a managed services provider can make a huge difference. Managed services providers that specialize in IT security for cloud operations maintain highly experienced teams of security experts. They are at the forefront of their fields and stay on top of emerging cyber threats.

These organizations invest in leading-edge defensive tactics and tools as well as mitigation strategies. The best among them take a multi-layered approach to IT security, employing a variety of resources to defend against both external and internal breaches across endpoints, at the edge and throughout the network.

Among the resources they can employ are security and vulnerability assessments to identify issues and fix them before they become problems. They can also take over the responsibility of monitoring your organization’s network and cloud infrastructure, maintaining the security integrity of your endpoints and incorporating practices like application vulnerability monitoring, firewall management and configuration management.

Some managed IT security service providers also have expertise in compliance with various regulatory requirements and industry standards. They can help integrate the necessary controls to meet HIPAA/HITECH, PCI-DSS, and a variety of other regulatory compliance needs.

More Reasons to Outsource Cloud Operations

We’ve covered just a handful of issues to assess when determining if managed services are right for your company. There are many others, and the list of considerations grows once you opt to go with managed services. That includes the qualifications of the managed services provider itself. This is an area of research you should conduct to make sure you find a great managed service partner that is also aligned to your current or desired cloud environment.