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My company has very small IT needs and wants to outsource most of our IT operations. We've moved some stuff to hosted services, but other things like network administration, setting up new employees' machines, creating VMs, managing license servers for some software we use internally, etc., have to be done on-site.

We don't have enough work to hire someone full-time, and we've had a hard time finding a qualified person who is willing to work part-time. Ideally, we want to hire a company that completely manages all the IT work for several small companies.

  1. How do we search for such a company? Is "Managed IT Services" the proper term for this, or are there other terms?

  2. Is there anything we should not reasonably expect such a company to be able to handle, such as user account administration, restructuring our network, etc.?

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    1. Yes. 2. Yes. – joeqwerty Apr 27 '13 at 1:48
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    you are looking for an MSP - Managed Services Provider. Lots of companies will setup plans where its x hours a week/month depending on your needs. Most MSP can do everything a dedicated IT guy would do. – Jason Apr 27 '13 at 2:44
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You're correct in that the term describing the service you're requesting is "Managed Services" from a Managed Services Provider (MSP).

This is becoming a more common approach to business IT since technology is changing rapidly. The types of projects businesses implement these days require specialists and specialized knowledge. It's difficult to hire good people. It's even more difficult to retain them.

For example, let's say you need a new virtual infrastructure deployment (VMware, a SAN and the related networking).

  • Do you try to hire a generalist in-house who knows enough?
  • Do you outsource to a firm who has a track-record of successful deployments?
  • Once the project is done, will you have enough work for your in-house resource?
  • Can you attract talent that has the right skill-set, experience, and willing to accept your salary without them being a flight risk for a better/sexier opportunity?

These are issues I see often as a consultant. You're thinking about this the right way. The main advantages of an MSP are:

  • They have a broad view of a larger number of environments.
  • They will typically keep abreast of new trends/technologies and may even be required to train/certify staff on specific solutions.
  • Due to the larger installation base, certain processes are streamlined (workflows for user management, tracking product licensing, mail system support, etc.)
  • Better staff coverage and sometimes a dedicated NOC or helpdesk.

Since you're also Illinois-based, here's a well-defined managed services definition and guide from an extremely reputable firm in the region.

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