Outsourced IT support is a very popular solution for small to medium-sized businesses – the resources and expertise you have access to, compared with the price, is hard to beat. Outsourced IT support normally means the business, as a customer, has access to a helpdesk that they can call. They may have unlimited calls or capped calls per month. They should also be entitled to callouts to their sites – many IT support issues can be resolved remotely these days, but there is still a need for on-site support on occasion.
This arrangement works best if you are working with a provider that is local, or at least, based within commuting distance for those occasions where callouts are required. But what if your business has several locations, or perhaps remote workers, spread across a wide area. Can partnering with a single outsourced IT support provider work? We spoke with an IT Support London provider, TechQuarters, about the logistics of multi-location outsourced support.
“Our main base of operations is in London and the surrounding area,” says TechQuarters, “but we have valued customers further afield, across the UK.”
So, what is the key to delivering support to a wide area? Firstly, it should be noted that just because you are outsourcing your IT support, doesn’t mean it isn’t hugely beneficial to have one or two technical engineers internally – perhaps even just an IT manager. Having a counterpart in the office makes delivering physical support much easier. Your internal engineers can work with your outsourced IT provider over the phone, and work together to implement physical fixes to infrastructure.
Physical IT issues are perhaps the biggest barrier in remote support. Traditionally, critical business processes would be ran on physical servers; and businesses would have telephone and internet lines that required physical maintenance. When you experience issues with these things, it can halt your business in its tracks, and you may experience serious downtime if you are outsourcing your support to a provider that is not local. The solution is hosting your critical technology and resources in the cloud. Nowadays, all of your servers, and even things like your telephone system can be entirely cloud-based, if you are using one of the large-scale cloud services.
“At TechQuarters, we used Microsoft Azure to host our customers’ infrastructures,” says TechQuarters. Azure has over 100 different services to offer, all of which can be managed by an IT admin through the Azure Portal. This way, if you experience any issues with critical business processes, it is not the same catastrophe that it would be if you’re relying on an engineer getting out to your site to identify the problem. With the Cloud, troubleshooting and fixes can be implemented remotely, thus minimising downtime.
But what if users experience issues with their devices, or their user profiles? An excellent practice in those situations is to have backup devices in your office that can be switched on, and configured remotely by your IT provider. Then, whilst you usual machine is being investigated and fixed, you can continue working, with minimal downtime, on the backup machine.
So, these are just a few of the ways in which outsourced IT support works when you have offices or personnel that are working across a wide area.
If you are a business thinking of outsourcing your IT support, these are the solutions that you should be thinking about.