Carousel Industries: A Deeper Look into Managed Services

Jeff Gardner, CEO Five years ago, the view of IT was relatively simple. Businesses across the board would utilize their in-house teams to install voice and data networks, the nap point specific members of their teams to maintain the networks on a daily basis. If technology were stagnant, perhaps this idea would be long-lasting; however, companies operating in every vertical now face the same set of challenges. They must decide whether to invest in keeping their IT departments grounded in maintenance duties or to outsource those day-to-day responsibilities to a Managed Services Provider (MSP) that will act as an extension of their team, allowing their IT members to deal with more strategic roles.

"Would you rather pour money into training technicians to keep up with constantly changing trends, or put them somewhere else where they can drive revenue and potentially cut down costs?"

It is a new form of competition that has given way to an entirely different set of demands and expectations, and Carousel Industries’ story attests to this. The need for IT to keep up with the staggering pace of technology has made MSPs like Carousel a very common, accessible option that spans across every vertical. Whether or not MSPs are the proper option, however, is a question that varies from business to business.

The Challenges of Self-Management

The competitive benefit of managed services lies in the strategic reallocation of the CIO’s IT department. As simply put by Jeff Gardner, CEO of Carousel Industries, “Would you rather pour money into training technicians to keep up with constantly changing trends, or put them somewhere else where they can drive revenue and potentially cut down costs?” Instead of working with a multitude of manufacturing vendors to understand how to service and support new technologies, CIOs can rely on the expertise of an MSP as an extension of their team.
Choosing an MSP isn’t exactly a no-brainer, CIOs have to perform a considerable amount of self-assessment before deciding which MSP is right for them. “They need to understand what they’re being chartered with, the type of innovation they need to drive, what maintenance and support tasks can be sent outside of the organization, and whether or not managed services even make sense for them strategically,” points out Gardner. For a fee, companies are essentially trusting MSPs to work with their technology providers so that they don’t have to. This includes upgrades, monitoring, and giving these companies a support number they can call— 365x24x7—to resolve any problem they come across.

So, for example, MSPs specialize in making products and solutions work together. This can include integrating complex real-time applications such as Polycom and Cisco Video with different Unified Communications (UC) clients and Skype for Business across an enterprise. When these real-time applications run in highly resilient VMware environments over wireless networks such as Aruba
and complex Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) networks, the management, care, and feeding increase exponentially. This is where MSPs can deliver high value to IT departments by providing the talent and tools to rapidly triage, manage, and remediate issues. Some MSPs even offer to service those products without having personally sold them to the customer. A great MSP will bring a wider knowledge base than usual by integrating their real time applications and data infrastructure experts into a collaborative team, which gives them the ability to approach a problem area or new innovative solution in a holistic manner. According to Jim Marsh, Chief Revenue Officer of Carousel, “Failure of teams to connect the dots and collaborate on complex issues is probably the leading cause of extended outages and failed IT initiatives: a great MSP takes care of this.”

The competitive benefit of managed services lies in the strategic reallocation of the CIO’s IT department

Heads in the Cloud

“I think where a lot of solution providers get in trouble is when they don’t take the time and aren’t innovative upfront about evaluating customers’ current environments, evaluating how the clients’ existing technology will integrate with what they’re bringing in,” explains Gardner. More companies today are shifting IT investment from a CapEx to an OpEx model. This is another way that MSPs find traction. Companies such as Carousel offer cloud solutions that address the needs of small to large enterprises. These include the voice/ UC, contact center, video, network, and security cloud solutions. When it comes to the cloud, it can be cheaper, faster, and better to outsource day-to-day responsibilities to an MSP rather than sinking money and time into training internal teams.

There’s also virtualization, which brings a more proactive mindset to businesses everywhere. Rather than waiting for a problem to occur, customers can take charge by monitoring real-time statistics on their applications and better managing how they use resources on the processor. VMware in particular allows these organizations to host a lot of their applications on a single physical server, while placing a great deal of focus on leveraging hardware resources that would otherwise go mostly unused in a physical server solution. With virtualization, organizations can maximize their remaining physical infrastructure and drive major cost savings by reducing their technology footprint.

Carousel recognizes that as companies continue to grow into their VMware environment, resource optimization becomes a critical function to maintaining stability. “We monitor and manage our clients’ VMware environments to actively acquire real-time resource statistics,” comments Gardner. Such statistics help virtualization engineers determine how clients are using their current environments and identify potential risks before any issues occur. Designing and deploying VMware environments with optimization in mind, an MSP’s product knowledge assists clients in reducing cost, maximizing the
resources already in place, and facilitating future growth within the environment deployed. “No longer do clients have to procure a server for every application they run; this in itself is a massive cost saving for any organization,” adds Gardner.

Ultimately, companies that are looking at cloud services have to decide whether to keep devoting finances to stay ahead of the curve or migrate to cloud, where they’ll always be upgraded to the latest technology. “A strong MSP can assist in an organization’s migration to the cloud by managing the legacy environment, freeing up internal IT resources to focus on the new, without constantly being pulled back into day-to-day chores,” comments Gardner Vendor agnostic MSPs yield the advantage of being able to take a consultative approach and explain the pros and cons of the cloud, while representing a variety of partners-offering innovative solutions based on client needs.

Partners, Packages, and Policies: The Power of Managed Services

There is a vast array of options when pursuing MSPs. Some CIOs may keep their IT department focused on some of the maintenance and outsource some of the workload. MSPs are usually partnered with multiple technology vendors, enabling them to customize solutions and map the right technologies to solve the exact challenges of each client. This type of working relationship is incentivized by an MSP’s ability to help drive a provider’s products by making them more accessible and useful to the customer.

Still, when looking for an MSP, the wary CIO may consider the possibility of these services being managed or implemented inadequately. “We do not mind at all betting on ourselves as a company in our service delivery with some percentage of the bill. We actually welcome it: it just makes everyone better,” explains Gardner. An MSP’s success is driven by a strong core philosophy that prioritizes the customer and a willingness to offer warranty if they miss the mark.

Are MSPs the Future of IT?

It stands to reason that the conveniences offered by MSPs could become a staple in IT. Choosing one is similar to making an investment, as many CIOs are leveraging potential profits versus a temporary decrease in profits. “Sure, you could pay an IT team significantly less for the upkeep and advancement of your servers, but you risk wasting time, effort, and money on a team that could be driving profits elsewhere,” notes Gardner. What if they’re understaffed? What if these exhaustive efforts offer fewer benefits than a specialized team that most likely has the experience to do it better? These are the pressing questions that every CIO will have to consider as MSPs continue to offer a significant benefit to companies of all shapes and sizes.

With the CIOs now being vigilant as to whether they can maximize the benefit of this growing trend, MSPs are constantly looking for ways to bring added value to clients through innovation. The criteria for their usefulness, however, remains the same. While finding a good MSP is important, CIOs have an equally pressing responsibility to determine whether or not an MSP can deliver technologies and services that are critical to their company’s growth in the most effective manner possible.

Carousel Industries

Exeter, RI

Jeff Gardner, CEO

A specialist in consulting, integrating, and managing technology solutions that solve business problems and contribute to corporate growth