Yes or No to Managed Service Providers?

CIOs are tasked with many important duties and responsibilities, two of which include the management of IT personnel and maintaining IT systems and operations.  The number of IT professionals with experience working on the IBM i (AS/400, iSeries) platform being brought into this environment is far less than the number of individuals retiring in the next several years.  The number of businesses that still utilize the IBM i to run their most critical applications is abundant and many of them do not plan to migrate away from the platform any time soon.  Notably, more than 50% of these companies have just one or two system administrators tasked to maintain this hardware. In the unfortunate event that one or both admins retire, resign, or leave this important position, for whatever reason, the performance and security of the system running your core business applications will be put at risk. Combined with the fact that the talent pool for system administrators on this platform is small, it begs the question: Do you need to consider collaborating with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) sooner than later?

Where is your Level of Concern?

Low Level of Concern – With several administrators on staff, backup support is available should someone need to leave his/her position permanently or for an extended period.

High Level of Concern – With just one or two system admins on staff, backup support is non-existent or minimal at best.  The system maintenance begins to fall behind. This leaves the system, which may run more than half of your core business applications, vulnerable to performance and security issues. In addition, not having the resources to manage mission critical system alerts that can, and do occur, when a system is not being monitored or maintained properly, can cause businesses to stop running.

When & How to Move Forward

When to engage an MSP depends on the level of concern you have about the available resource(s) you employ to help you maintain your system(s) properly now and in the future.  If you have an elevated level of concern, it is time to consider partnering with an MSP.  How to go about engaging an MSP is not difficult. The best resource is talking with other companies that currently utilize the services of an MSP. References are necessary and will put you at ease when it is time to make the final decision.  Be sure to discuss your specific requirements in detail with the companies you are considering.  Carefully evaluate the different options you are afforded to engage their services.  Please keep in mind that choosing to collaborate with an MSP does not mean that you need to replace your current system administrator.  In most cases, an MSP can effectively augment the administration of your system by helping with 24/7 support, scheduled monthly/quarterly/yearly hardware/software updates, etc. This helps reduce the workload of the existing system admin so he/she can focus on other important system maintenance requirements.  It would also be nice for them to occasionally take some needed time off, knowing there are experienced backups to help in their absence.  There are a variety of options available to you in terms of how many people you require, what tasks need to be managed, and how long your contract will be with an MSP.

Additional Resources

For more information on Managed Services, please visit the iTech IBM i Content library.  Search for Managed Services and you will discover articles, blogs, and webinars on the topic to help you in your research to form a business partnership with an experienced IBM i-focused MSP.  Don’t wait until it is too late, especially if you have a high level of concern now.

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