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Dealer/integrator insights: The changing face of managed services
Hosted and managed services make sense for the smaller integrator as well as the user
Integrators are embracing the many ways the cloud helps smaller companies succeed
Hosted and managed security services aren’t for large enterprises only. SMBs (small-to-medium businesses) are taking advantage of the inherent operational and cost efficiencies of deploying managed services.

Web-based or cloud services like access control and video provide convenience, ease of use and lower total cost of ownership. Cloud services are accessed without downloading and maintaining software locally, so servers or additional IT support isn’t necessary. For the integrator, technicians don’t have to circumvent a VPN, as is the case with on-site software. Users decide the “flavour” of managed services – a little control or a lot, and determine what they want the integrator to handle as part of the agreement.

Everything as a service

Hosted and managed services make sense for the smaller integrator as well as the user. Services are primarily deployed remotely, without a truck roll. Managed services include proactive system health and well-being checks, lessening downtime and keeping service calls predictable and part of regular scheduled maintenance.

For the user, there’s also the benefit of using the latest smartphone apps and the ability to get real-time updates on security status from a variety of connected devices.

Michael Martin, president of Martin Systems Inc., Green Bay, Wis., recently installed a web-based access control platform for the Holy Cross Parish and Grace Catholic Educational school district. The 130-student campus includes a church, rectory with administrative offices and private school in a rural area of Green Bay. Martin says school and Parish administration wanted increased accessibility, security and the ability to initiate lockdown remotely, without an on-site server.

He says the school district likes the fact that the cloud-based service makes it simple to manage permissions and yet yields detailed user data. Martin Security’s managed services contract bills users similar to cell phone providers – with tiered data plans – a concept that’s palatable to customers.

Service support provider

“For the dealer, a big benefit is recurring revenue,” Martin says. “Managed services also keep the customer connected and coming back. If you simply deliver on-site software, you may never see the customer again. With managed services, the customer knows we’re their support provider and they won’t be left to figure things out on their own,” he says.

 Managed services include proactive system health and well-being checks, lessening downtime and keeping service calls predictable and part of regular scheduled maintenance

Another plus for the user is remote accessibility. “Everyone wants an app or ‘at your side’ application. For a smaller operation, software can be a pain point, and the cloud takes the pain away.”

Rob Simopoulos, president of Advance Technology in Scarborough, Maine, says cloud and hosted services make a lot of sense. “With cloud technologies it’s easier to administer changes. Data is stored redundantly, so users don’t have that expense and don’t have to worry about backups.”

Simopoulos says Advance Technology continues to focus on RMR and its “white glove” managed services, with more than half its customers participating. “From a revenue perspective, managed services add a lot of value. We do the work for the customer, such as programming permissions or handling ID management. With hosted technologies our engineers can connect remotely through the cloud rather than transverse the customer’s internal network. And, one of the worst things that can happen is when a non-hosted system goes down and the customer hasn’t done a backup and we have to go in and try to recreate data. Using the cloud ensures data is stored redundantly,” he says.

Looking toward the future of managed services, Simopoulos says it’s only the beginning. “More and more physical security technologies are migrating to the cloud because of the cost of server farms and in-house IT expenses. Hosted video is still being held back by bandwidth challenges of streaming images, causing some limitations. But the benefits of moving to cloud-based services is tremendous,” he adds.

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