Category Archives: Managed services

How to Build a Modern 24/7 Help Desk

Check out the infographic below to learn how GreenPages’ Help Desk helped a customer drastically improve service desk support while saving 30%. Learn how we can help you lower cost, reduce risk, and increase services efficiency. 

If you’d like to decrease time to resolution, measure service improvement, build a first-class knowledgebase, and leverage support communities, listen to this recent presentation from Jay Keating, SVP of Cloud and Managed Services, and Steven White, Director of Customer Service.

GreenPages Help Desk

 

By Jake Cryan, Digital Marketing Specialist

Solarwinds acquires LogicNow to form new MSP business unit

Expansion1SolarWinds has completed the acquisition of LogicNow, which it plans to merge with the N-able business unit to create SolarWinds MSP. The new company will now serve 18,000 managed service providers worldwide, managing more than five million end-points and one million mailboxes.

For LogicNow’s General Manager Alistair Forbes combining his company’s expertise with capabilities of SolarWinds was an opportunity to take the business to the next level.

“This acquisition is the culmination of a journey which we’ve been on for the last 12 years,” said Forbes. “We saw the opportunity to combine with SolarWinds and the N-able division, and really shift gears into the next phase of our business. Since N-able was acquired by SolarWinds we’ve really seen them become a much more prominent player in the market.

“If you have a look at opportunity SolarWinds gave N-able, we see this as the best way we can accelerate the growth of the LogicNow business and take it to the next level.”

What is worth noting is that the growth of LogicNow has not hit a glass ceiling, Forbes highlighted the business has grown 40% over the last twelve months, however the association with SolarWinds can open up new doors for the team. While LogicNow is in itself a respected brand in the industry, SolarWinds has made its name as a specialist for enterprise scale organizations. By leaning on the SolarWinds brand, Forbes believes opportunities will be created which would have been significantly harder by taking the organic route.

The SolarWinds MSP business will now focus on a number of areas including remote monitoring and management, security including anti-malware, multi-vendor patch management and web access control, backup and disaster recovery, data analytics and risk and vulnerability assessment, amongst other areas.

First and foremost, the new brand will focus on understanding the technology, expertise and assets which are now available, to both business units. “The immediate focus of the business will be to take the combined assets and see what we can create,” said Forbes. “There will be some areas of overlap and also a few redundancies, but nothing massive. This acquisition is all about putting two and two together to make something bigger.”

For the moment, the LogicNow and SolarWinds N-able brands will continue, though this will be phased out over time. Internally, both units are working to shift the culture from the separate businesses to the SolarWinds MSP mentality, though it is thought the restructuring and integration process will be a relatively simple one. For the most part, there is little overlap, and although certain functions will require redundancies, there are only a couple of offices which would be deemed to clash. Boulder, Colorado is one of those offices, and there will be a requirement to merge into one physical location, though the headcount reduction will be minimized overall, Forbes claims.

Rackspace extends Azure Fanatical Support footprint to Europe

Europe At Golden Sunrise - View From SpaceRackspace has announced the unlimited availability launch of its Fanatical Support services for Microsoft Azure customers in the UK, Benelux and DACH regions, as well as two new service levels, Navigator and Aviator.

The Fanatical Support was previously available in US markets, though the expansion puts the Azure service in line with its other offerings, such as for Amazon Web Services. The Navigator service offers access to tools and automation, whereas Aviator does the same, and goes further to offer a fully-managed Azure experience, providing increased man-hours, custom architecture design and all-year support, as well as performing environment build and deployment activities.

“It’s been nearly a year since Rackspace announced Fanatical Support for Microsoft Azure, which we launched to assist customers who want to run IaaS workloads on the powerful Azure cloud, but prefer not to architect, secure and operate them first-hand,” said Jeff DeVerter, Chief Technologist for Microsoft Technology at Rackspace.

“Our launch of this offering marked an important expansion of our strategy to offer the world’s best expertise and service on industry-leading technologies, and is a natural progression of our 14-year relationship with Microsoft.”

As part of the announcement, the confirmed Help for Heroes would be one of the first UK organizations to utilize the new offering. The company has been utilizing the Azure platform for some time now, as a means to counter website downtime during periods of high traffic volume during fundraising campaigns.

“Being able to scale up quickly is important, but so is scaling down during times that are quieter,” said Charles Bikhazi, Head of Application Services at Help for Heroes. “As with any charity, we’re always looking to make cost savings where possible and that’s exactly what this solution has delivered. Now, we only pay for infrastructure that’s actually being used which ensures that costs don’t spiral out of control. The new offering gives us access to this much needed scalability and resilience without the burden of having to run the platform ourselves.”

Rackspace prioritises AWS and Azure partnerships for future growth

Taylor Rhodes

Taylor Rhodes, President and CEO at Rackspace

Rackspace has reported healthy growth for Q1 2016, as the team continues its transition to become managed services provider, leveraging partnerships with AWS and Microsoft Azure.

Revenues for the first quarter were reported at $518 million, a year-on-year growth of 9.9%, while profits grew 77.5%. Although the growth of the business over the last 12 months has been viewed as generally positive, industry commentators highlighted the $24 million gain from the divestiture of Jungle Disk, and what could be perceived as a lacklustre outlook for the rest of 2016 has dampened the news. The exec team expects revenues of between $519 million and $524 million for the second quarter.

“First, we saw a strong demand for our expertise and support on the AWS and Microsoft Clouds and for our OpenStack private cloud offer. Collectively, we now serve more than 400 customers on these platforms and our demand is scaling rapidly,” Taylor Rhodes, President and CEO at Rackspace. “From the October launch of our AWS service through the end of April, we’ve been actively marketing with AWS and have signed 187 customers across every firm size, geography, and vertical.”

The transition to a managed cloud services company began a number of years ago with the launch of Rackspace’s Fanatical Support services, though seemingly began making real traction within the industry last year, as the team announced expanded partnerships with Microsoft in July, when Azure public and private cloud infrastructure was incorporated into the offering, and AWS in August. The team also recently announced a new partnership with Cloud Technology Partners, which it believes will increase cloud adoption rates.

The partnerships are also enabling the company to diversify its geographical focus as over 40% of the AWS customers are coming from non-U.S. regions. Rhodes also believes the new capital-light business models employed enables the company to roll-out new offerings worldwide. Previously, new products were rolled out first in the USA, due to capital intensity, and then phased out over time into other regions worldwide, however the new model is claimed to offer Rackspace increased flexibility and agility in bringing new offerings to the market.

The shift in strategic direction is supported by a renewed effort in the marketing department, as Rhodes highlighted campaigns will now be directed towards driving brand awareness and demand generation for the managed cloud services business, specifically the Fanatical Support services offered to AWS and Microsoft Azure customers.

“Our new head of Global Sales and Marketing, Alex Pinchev, started work at the beginning of Q1,” said Rhodes. “He and his team are moving aggressively to shift resources toward our new fast-growing offers while sustaining our core business. They are training more of our sales teams to sell our new offers and are hiring additional specialists in areas of high demand. We advised you last quarter that these sales and marketing efforts will take time to gain full traction, that transition contributed to our slow start to the year”

Efforts for Rackspace on the OpenStack front would also appear to be bearing fruit, with the launch of OpenStack Everywhere, Next Generation Bare Metal Servers and the Private Cloud Powered by Red Hat offering. All three offerings would seemingly demonstrate the company’s drive towards the OpenStack private and hybrid cloud market segments. The team are confident in the growth potential of the OpenStack private cloud market, and highlighted a number of major customers wins were through this aspect of the business.

“Our role as the co-founder of OpenStack has given us unique capabilities in software development, DevOps, continuous integration and deployment, and other key disciplines,” said Rhodes. “Those capabilities provide a major differentiation for us versus other managed services providers as we expand to provide managed cloud services on AWS and the Microsoft Cloud.

“We’ve really seen a tipping point, what really looks like a significant tipping point in the market for OpenStack private clouds in the last six months to nine months. Some of our largest deals that we closed in March were OpenStack private cloud deals and some of the largest deals that we have in our pipeline today are OpenStack private cloud deal. So, really that’s the traction that we’re seeing.”

Frankly Speaking: IT Execs on Moving to Managed Services: Strategies, Curveballs, Results

We’re excited to announce that we’ll be hosting a managed services webinar on March 31st at 11am ET. Instead of a GreenPages presenter, we’re switching up the format and will be interviewing two IT executives. Our first panelist will be Darrell Bodnar, the Director of Information Services at Weeks Medical Center. The second panelist is going to be Dave Widener, the Director of IT & Project Management at Dead River Company.  The conversation will be moderated by Geoff Smith, GreenPages’ Director, Managed Services Business Development. The main topics will be around Darrell & Dave’s experience using Managed Services. There will be live Q&A with the panelists as well.

This should be a great way to hear directly from fellow IT executives to get a better sense of the challenges they were facing, how they approached those challenges, and some of the outcomes of moving to a Managed Services model. Below is some additional information about the webinar. You can register here!

Frankly Speaking: IT Execs on Moving to Managed Services: Strategies, Curveballs, Results

Companies turn to Managed IT Services for many different reasons: M&As, growth, limited staff, need for agility, EOL technology, or to focus on more strategic business initiatives. This is your chance to hear two IT executives from two very different industries—a hospital and a petroleum company—candidly discuss the “why, what, and how” of implementing Managed IT Services in their organizations.

Live Interview & Discussion Format. Hear Darrell and Dave explain:

  • The Business Drivers that pushed them toward a managed services approach, for example 24/7 support for medical staff and increased emphasis on modern IT and business innovation.
  • The Burning Platform Issues that were unacceptable: users pointing out issues before IT knew, no clear visibility across infrastructure, IT lifecycle management, etc.
  • Other Options they considered and why: hiring more staff, adding technology, doing nothing, etc.
  • The Decision Process within their internal IT teams, executive leadership, and across their larger organizations.
  • The Planning & Strategy to address critical areas such as servers, storage, networks, VMs, firewalls, plus integration methodologies and end user experience.
  • Specific Technologies involved including management and support of Microsoft, Citrix, VMware, and Cisco environments.
  • Challenges Faced: anticipated and unanticipated; what worked, what didn’t, onboarding curveballs, change management, etc.
  • Results & Lessons Learned: short- and long-term outcomes, system availability and stabilization, and areas for improvement.

 

REGISTER NOW!

 

By Ben Stephenson, Emerging Media Specialist

Webinar Reminder: IT Help Desk for the Holidays

As a reminder, we’ll be hosting a webinar tomorrow morning at 11:00am ET! Jay Keating and Geoff Smith will be hosting a discussion on modern IT Help Desk approaches and how cloud platforms and a tech-savvy workforce have fundamentally changed the support game. Learn why your IT Help Desk can’t be an afterthought, and why it needs to be scientific and handled by professionals. Finally, discover how easy it is to leverage IT Help Desk services and why it’s the best present you can give this holiday season to your organization…and yourself.

Topics will include:

  • Market trends in Help Desk: Modern vs. Old School
  • Considerations for building your own IT Help Desk
  • How to significantly reduce ticket resolution time down to minutes.
  • Tailoring Help Desk to unique business needs and IT environments
  • How to support complex devices that require different authentication methods
  • Handling distributed appliances in private data centers needing VDI connections

 

Register now!

 

About Jay Keating, VP of Managed Services – Jay has 21 years of IT experience, with the past 16 years focused on Managed Services, and is currently responsible for GreenPages’ Managed Services organization. He has a strong data center and infrastructure operations background with substantial experience managing and optimizing 24×7 delivery organizations to execute with quality.

About Geoff Smith, Director, New Business Development, Managed Services – Geoff has more than 25 years of experience working in all verticals and markets, from the SMB to the enterprise, focusing on the application of IT solutions that enable businesses to achieve their goals. As a Director of New Business Development, Geoff is focused on the development of co-sourced and federated infrastructure operations, help desk, and cloud service frameworks designed to optimize IT operations and drive economic value to the business

 

 

Are Your Users Happy? Tips for Running a Successful IT Help Desk

What do you think of when you hear the term Help Desk?  Is it a room full of technicians with noise-cancelling headsets, logged into an IT Service Management (ITSM) system, talking with their hands and guzzling Red Bulls?  In your vision, do they appear haggard, glassy-eyed and stressed?  Do they participate in the corporate culture, or languish in that basement call center the rest of the company thinks is some super-secret laboratory?

That may seem a little outrageous, but consider this: Google and Bing searches on “help desk” don’t show a real human representative until almost 20 images in.  And even then, the images are stereotypical and generic.  So you have to ask yourself, is that how the rest of the organization sees your help desk team?  Are they relegated to anonymity?

Back when I started my career in the IT industry as a service technician in the 1980s, I was a pretty popular guy when I strolled in the door to solve someone’s computer issue.  I would come in with my bag of tools, some floppy disks, and my trusty degausser.  I was that guy who could perform the voodoo ritual that would breathe life back into their systems while they went off and filed something or made some sales calls, and, because what I did was largely a mystery to them, they were (generally) pleasant and patient.

{Register for Geoff’s upcoming webinar, “IT Help Desk for the Holidays: The Strategic Gift That Keeps on Giving”}

There is a new reality today, one born out of the following facts:

  1. Little productive work can be done without a functioning system today
  2. Users are more sophisticated with the basics of computer functionality
  3. Systems are more integrated and inter-dependent
  4. Remote support capabilities and call center technologies have matured greatly

These are not unique to IT; there are many parallels to other industries.  Are you more patient today when visiting the doctor, getting your car serviced, or when your Internet goes out?  Or do you find yourself self-diagnosing, visiting the forums, or fiddling with the cables first, and then when you do call or visit the specialist, you’re frustrated and impatient?

With these new realities, IT help desks have to mature to maintain value and provide good client satisfaction.  Our customer base is better educated, more dependent, and less patient than in the past.  However, we have new technologies to reduce wait times and improve resolution times and can leverage data and analytics to identify trends and predict usage demands. I’m actually hosting a webinar next week to go over strategies for reducing wait times and improving resolution times if you’re interested in learning more.

The development of help desk services has been traditionally based on user counts and request quantities: X amount of users placing Y amount of requests equals the number of people I need to staff my service with. But there are other factors that can complicate that seemingly simple calculation, such as the ebbs and flows of requests by time of day, day of the week or month of the year, usage spikes due to new platform and application roll outs, and the geographic dispersion of users to be supported.  Other factors include the types of requests and length of the typical resolution cycle, technologies being consumed, potential complications from BYOD and mobile workforce requirements, and the quality of support artifacts.  And that doesn’t even consider staff burn out, attrition, and career advancement impacts on delivery capabilities.

So, as the person responsible for the delivery of a seemingly basic, vanilla and anonymous service, how do you create something that is world-class, aligned to your specific business outcomes, and is the face of all IT support to a sophisticated, diverse and impatient workforce that needs to work anytime, from anywhere on any type of device?  Seems a pretty daunting challenge.  Here are some tactics you can use:

  • Consider starting at the end. What is the desired business outcome from your help desk service? Ask the question of the line of business owners, determine their individual needs, and correlate that into a prioritized list of requirements. Is speed-to-answer the most valuable? Or is it resolution time? How much can you rely on their users to self-service?
  • Think like a services provider, not as a member of the organization. If you had to craft a solution that provides a consistent and predictable outcome, but that can flex non-linearly as demand changes without impacting your SLAs, how would you do that? What challenges may impact your service delivery capability, and how can those be dealt with proactively?
  • Determine what information is critical in self-evaluation of your service delivery, and in demonstration of value. How would you share that with the rest of the organization, and how can that be leveraged for continual improvement? Your constituents should feel empowered to opine and provide feedback, but equally as important is how you assess yourself.
  • What can I achieve within the given budget? Do I have to downgrade service levels, or can I save money by utilizing lower cost resources and enabling them with better documentation and support artifacts? What are the trade-offs?
  • Think creatively. If I move some services to a provider, can I improve the overall experience by re-dedicating the internal team to more complex issue resolutions or provide a more robust, hands-on response? Will providing end user training based on issue type allocation reduce the help desk need and create a more sustainable service?

Above all else, set the proper expectations, be realistic, and don’t over-commit.  At the root of it, help desk is a human experience, and since all humans are bound to be imperfect, so will your help desk.  While the prevailing perspective may be that they are automatons toiling away in some deep dark lair, we know that they are the face of all we deliver to our constituents.

Interested in hearing more from Geoff on how to run a world-class help desk? Register for our December, 10th webinar!

 

By Geoff Smith, Senior Manager, Managed Services Business Development

GreenPages Helps Wire Belt with Managed Services & Business Transformation

Here’s a video we did with a great customer of ours, Beth Lindberg. Beth is the Director of IT at Wire Belt Company of America. Wire Belt is a multinational stainless steel conveyor system manufacturer with locations in the US, Germany, and England. At Wire Belt, Beth is in charge of keeping all systems up and running, as well as thinking strategically for the US location about ways to utilize IT to help successfully drive the company forward into the future.

In order to focus on this long term strategic vision, Beth uses GreenPages’ Managed Services to work in the background 24/7/365 to keep the lights on. Without this help, she may be too bogged down to be able to concentrate on projects that have a direct impact on Wire Belt’s users, customers, and business.

[Register for our upcoming webinar – Microsoft Office 365: Expectations vs. Reality]

Along with Managed Services, Beth is also working with GreenPages on the company’s plans for business transformation.

Recently, Wire Belt experienced a major network outage that resulted in its ERP system going down. Wire Belt relies heavily on its ERP for everything from ordering, to scheduling, to shipping and invoicing. With the risk of aggravating customers by not being able to deliver orders on time, they brought in GreenPages to help solve the problem. Watch the video below to hear from Beth!

 

GreenPages Helps Wire Belt with Managed Services & Business Transformation

 

A special thank you to Beth for taking the time to do this video with us! If you have any questions about how GreenPages can help your business, reach out to us at socialmedia@greenpages.com.

Register for our upcoming webinar – Microsoft Office 365: Expectations vs. Reality

 

 

Interoute buys Easynet for £402 million

interoute logoNetwork and cloud service operator Interoute has entered an agreement to buy European managed services provider Easynet in a deal valued at £402 million.

Easynet manages services for clients including Sports Direct, EDF, Bouygues, Anglian Water, Bridgestone, Levi Strauss and Campofrio Food Group. It has a twenty year pedigree of running integrated networks, hosting and unified communications solutions to national and global clients. Its data center and cloud computing services include colocation, security, voice and application performance management. It has been appointed by the UK government’s Procurement Service to assist the UK Government in creating a ‘network of networks’ with an emphasis on machine to machine (M2M) development.

Interoute’s technology estate includes 12 data centres, 14 virtual data centres and 31 colocation centres along with connection to 195 additional third-party data centres across Europe. It owns and operates 24 connected city networks within Europe’s major business centres.

According to Interoute, the acquisition means that enterprise, government and service provider customers of the two companies will get a fuller suite of products, services and skillsets.

“These are exciting times for Interoute customers,” said Interoute CEO Gareth Williams, “Interoute is creating a leading, independent European ICT provider. This is the next step in our acquisition strategy and moves us much closer to our goal of being the provider of choice to Europe’s digital economy.”

Easynet CEO Mark Thompson reassured customers that the combination of the two service providers will bring better service to clients of both. “The combined companies can offer broader and deeper connectivity options, as well as an expanded portfolio of products and services,” said Thompson. “The acquisition will expand an already market-leading cloud hosting capability in Europe.”

Williams had previously told analysts that Interoute needed to grow before going public. The takeover will double revenue in the division that sells telecoms services to large companies and government departments.

British telco Easynet became one of the champions of broadband competition in Britain after it was acquired in 2006 by Sky for £211 million. In 2010, Easynet announced its sale from BSkyB (Sky) to Lloyds Development Capital (LDC), the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group.

In December 2013 the company was acquired by MDNX Group, the UK’s largest independent carrier integrator.

Interoute was recently recognised by market analyst Gartner as a leader in its 2015 Magic Quadrant for Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting, Europe report.

Build-Operate-Transfer Model: Creating a Valuable Framework for IT

The build-operate-transfer model is about taking the concept of a long term outsourced service, traditional in the Managed Services space, and addressing it in a way that allows the customer to get value out of the services at the end of the engagement. It’s also a way to address challenges within the IT operational team that feel like their services are being replaced by outside services.

With a build-operate-transfer model, you really need to start with the end-game in mind. Where are you going to be in 5 years? 7 years? 10 years? Are the services you’re consuming today going to be the same services you need then? How could your future plans be altered (mergers, acquisitions, etc.)? You need a way to be able to transfer those services but get value out of what you have been consuming in the previous term. That’s what the build-operate-transfer model is all about.

 

 

The corporate IT department has evolved. Has yours kept pace?

 

By Geoff Smith, Director, Managed Services Business Development