Managed vs Co-Managed Services

What's the difference and why do they matter?

In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, it can be said that technology forms the backbone of modern society with a strong reliance on digital systems in everyday life. As we progress from the Information Age to the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the 21st century, we sometimes forget about the immense amount of data being processed and the significant effort it takes to maintain the systems we use daily.

Even before hybrid and remote working arrangements became commonplace, enterprise IT systems played an integral role in facilitating business operations and performance, and nowadays, these IT systems have arguably become more important than ever. While these systems can significantly impact business performance based on how they are run and who manages them, they are treated like an unseen force not actively thought about.

To ensure that your systems are running optimally, it’s essential to review your network resourcing and operating model so that your enterprise can optimize its business processes, develop flexibility, and not get left behind running legacy systems.

Moving from legacy infrastructure to modern network models

Most enterprises recognize the need to modernize their IT infrastructure and networking systems. However, digital transformation can be challenging. In the wake of the global pandemic, a harsh spotlight was cast on the current state of enterprise digitalization. The importance of digital transformation was highlighted as enterprises reliant on legacy systems were left ill-prepared for the rapid digital shift.

Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising — despite the way IT solutions, like software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN), critically underpin an enterprise’s network performance and scalability, their relative invisibility in day-to-day operations often results in networking optimization taking a back seat unless there is a problem. Top leadership’s understanding of IT solutions’ ability to provide the company with a competitive edge may also be insufficient.

To achieve quicker and more effective change, enterprises and IT leaders need to understand that embracing telco-independent SD-WAN and security architecture when implementing their digital transformation plan can be pivotal. But what makes this superior to legacy systems?

Software-defined networking allows the user to control the network through a central software-based layer. This enables seamless infrastructure management even when the network involves many different hardware components, enabling greater agility and flexibility compared to legacy systems. This new approach to wide-area networks (WANs) also enables enterprises to speed up their digital transformation to keep up with changes and adapt swiftly to industry demands when needed. In addition, having a telco-independent approach provides the client with unbiased opinions and services, stronger partnerships, and access to cutting-edge technology, among other things.

But an SD-WAN architecture is just one part of the digitalization equation. The current trend of network cloudification, which includes the software-defined approach, means enterprise networking solutions have increasingly shifted towards third-party cloud service providers and vendors. And, with ever-more vendors available in the market, enterprises have a wide selection of providers to choose from.

Big names like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform are a common pick for many organizations. These companies adopt a shared responsibility model where the handling of security and compliance is shared between the customer and provider. However, different network management models have emerged, giving enterprises the ability to pick the approach that best fits their needs — and their budget.

One example is the DIY model, where your enterprise’s own IT team sets up and manages all components. This route is most suitable for larger organizations that have an internal IT team to run the operations but want the additional security and configuration capabilities that Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can provide. Apart from the DIY model, managed and co-managed models are also viable options that many enterprises use to optimize their IT management.

Why managed and co-managed services matter — why you should care?

The popularity of managed and co-managed models has grown in recent years as enterprises continue to take advantage of cloud infrastructure, requiring more dynamic and specialized support like round-the-clock monitoring, dedicated IT support and increased operational agility.

Managed and co-managed services can allow an enterprise to achieve higher levels of efficiency and adaptability. In a 2021 report by NTT [1], 92.2% of organizations surveyed concurred that having a trusted technology partner lays the important groundwork for technology strategies. In addition, research by Mordor Intelligence [2] found that effective implementation of managed services has the potential to increase operational efficiency by 45% to 65%, while reducing IT costs by 25% to 45%.

Enterprises will also be able to address the skill gap when supporting next-generation networks and infrastructure thanks to managed and co-managed services. Without an MSP with the right knowledge to handle complex WAN transformations, it can be difficult to find capable IT talent that’s familiar with the latest technology and is able to drive better business performance and success.

With managed and co-managed services providing clear trajectories to better network performance, the question is: which one is right for you?

What are managed services?

MSPs provide fully outsourced and dedicated units which handle an enterprise’s IT needs completely. This means your company will not need to devote any resources to IT, and will rely on the MSP for network management, troubleshooting and strategy. With an MSP, you can expect benefits like access to highly proficient IT professionals, reliability, reduced risk and more time to focus on core business functions.

While this approach is acceptable for certain enterprises, it can be perceived to be too sluggish or fragmented for a fast-moving digital environment. For instance, traditional MSPs are beginning to face competition from newer and more agile solutions and providers that tout end-to-end automation and promise improved scalability.

What are co-managed services?

A co-managed service, on the other hand, will work in tandem with your internal IT team, filling the gaps and supplementing your in-house network management with value-added services like handling complex changes, providing after-hours support and lending additional manpower during busy periods. Put simply, the MSP acts as a partner to help steer your company closer towards its goals.

Apart from tangible advantages such as greater affordability and the presence of in-house staff who are intimately familiar with your business’s needs, the co-managed model can offer more flexibility and visibility, which helps to empower enterprises to make self-service changes. Furthermore, you get access to cutting-edge technology without extensive investment. Paired with telco-independent delivery, your enterprise gets unbiased access to the best market solutions without excessive cost and lock-in.

However, co-managed solutions are not ideal for every company. There may be conflict or difficulty when aligning the MSP’s and internal team’s goals. That’s why it’s critical to pick the right MSP for your enterprise, to ensure that both parties’ values and business culture are aligned.

How to select the right IT service model for your enterprise

Picking the right service model can be likened to choosing a personal trainer: you can either let them handle all aspects of your workout plan, or you can work together with them to design something that fits your objectives.

Regardless of the nature of your enterprise and how the internal IT team is run, here are a few key questions that every enterprise should ask before deciding on a managed or co-managed service model:

  1. How resource-intensive is your current IT solution?
  2. What services are important to your enterprise?
  3. How will the MSP solve your organization’s problems and how customizable is the MSPs service offering?
  4. What is the track record and skill set of the MSP?
  5. How can the MSP add value and enhance your existing IT solutions?
  6. What is the MSP’s service level agreement

Ultimately, choosing the right service means ensuring that the MSP’s solutions, system management, problem-solving abilities and best practices meet your business needs and enables it to develop agility and scalability when required.

The Coevolve approach

Managed and co-managed services both have pros and cons, so choosing the right provider will largely depend on your enterprise’s needs. Nevertheless, ensuring that your provider has the right methodology to execute plans and tailor its service is one of the critical factors for getting the desired results.

At Coevolve, we understand the effectiveness and importance of forming a partnership with our clients. For managed and co-managed services to perform to their greatest potential, we believe in staying agile, providing up-to-date methods along with proactive, data-driven management, and adopting next-generation technologies.

Through our Smart Services framework, we’re focused on meeting our clients’ requirements and challenges, adding new value to our service offerings. We provide our clients with actionable insights into the performance, health and usage of their networks. It’s with this approach that we’ve successfully helped optimize and transform our clients’ networks.

The importance of digitalization in business today means companies require a robust and agile IT infrastructure to not only maintain success but to gain an advantage. However, not every company is equipped with the right hardware, software, or personnel to ensure their networking architecture can keep up with their goals. That’s why it’s become essential to have either fully managed services that can take care of all the intricacies of your enterprise IT needs or co-managed services that act as co-pilots with your in-house IT team, depending on your requirements. With the help of an MSP, the invisible backbone of your enterprise can be reinforced, paving the way towards better performance.

If you’re looking for managed or co-managed services that provide the latest solutions and support your business growth and needs, schedule a chat with our team today.