What is Managed Services?
Managed Services is a framework used for maintaining a system or system of systems. The purpose is to reduce operational costs and improve how assets are operated. The responsibility for the technology, applications, and systems outcomes rest with the Managed Service Provider (MSP). Managed Services is most commonly applied in the IT industry.
What is IT Managed Services?
When an organisation outsources IT functions, they are acquiring the skills of an IT Managed Service Provider. The range of functions that the Service Provider is responsible for is determined by the outsourcing organisation and tailored to match internal resource capability or the longer-term goals of the organisation. An organisation’s purpose in using IT Managed Services is varied, however common goals are related to economies of scale, focused management of IT Infrastructure and access to industry experts who are current in their industry knowledge.
Other benefits provided by IT Managed Services could be:
- Smaller internal resource investment
- Improvement in IT Support Staff productivity
- End User productivity improvements
- Fixed or predictable cost structure for standardised services
- Performance guarantees on up-time, response and quality
- Not all of these benefits apply for each situation and IT Managed Services contracts are tailored to complement an organisation’s capabilities.
What is OT Managed Services?
At the highest level, OT Managed Services are similar in principle to IT Managed Services. Both IT and OT domains rely on systems for managing systems, the coordination of experts, incident management, intimate access to vendors and most importantly the responsibility for defined outcomes.
The convergence of IT and OT has been a discussion point for many publications, however, at a technical level, organsiations struggled to find agreement due to the differences between OT and IT. The commoditisation of IT has made it possible to provide improved organisational capability which is why IT Managed Service providers exist today in ever increasing numbers. The convergence of IT and OT management has occurred at a governance and financial level. This is evident by senior roles having responsibilities for both IT and OT budgets and uniform organisation change management practices.
Why don’t we see many OT Managed Service providers?
There are significant challenges in the OT space which limit the ability to commoditise the management of bespoke operational systems. Technologies and system architectures are never the same and expertise is required for the OT infrastructure components, the design, the unique configuration and the day-to-day customisations that occur as assets go on and offline. The number of devices and vendors are significant, implying a very broad set of skills are required to manage the scope of technologies reliably.
Though the OT environment is technically challenging and extremely diverse, the management of higher-level services including incident management, support resolution management, advisory and consultancy services, and the management of design, can be unified as Managed Services with performance guarantees. Some of the governance benefits enjoyed by an IT Managed Service arrangement can be realised, but perhaps the most significant OT benefit is a reduction in asset operational risk.
In the IT infrastructure domain, operational risk is reduced due to commoditisation, standardisation of redundancy technologies, and access to a large pool of service engineers and IT consultants. The higher risks associated with OT is not mitigated by industry commoditisation because commoditisation of OT technologies is not yet possible.
OT Managed Service providers sit above the individual technology engineer. The benefits of a single platform for coordination and planning specialised resources cannot be underestimated when it is applied to complex and ever-changing specialty technologies.
What OT Managed Services do you provide?
Our mantra is that our customers operate their assets, and we manage the OT infrastructure, the application technology and the associated vendors. We work alongside and advise operators on how to make best use of their chosen technologies and provide advice about lifecycle management including complete refresh.
Whether an organisation has extensive or limited OT expertise, the Service Agreement identifies areas of scope for both parties. As the OT Managed Services framework provides a governing role, we manage customer teams or resources when it makes sense to achieve the desired outcomes. This may also work in reverse for special projects, strategic development and lifecycle planning for the IT infrastructure that under pins OT.
Under one canopy Management Function we provide incident management, consulting and project activities that can be broadly summarised as:
- Simplified Accounting
- Proactive Support
- Remote Support 24/7
- Lifecycle Maintenance & Roadmap
- Systems Management
- Improving Asset Performance (OT technology infrastructure and asset automation)
Systems Management is especially important for OT where unique configurations are commonplace and change management is almost an organisational dream.
For future proofing, cost reduction and cost avoidance, improving Asset Performance is an extension to maintaining existing operational stability, i.e. maintaining status quo.
How does OT Managed Services by Parasyn blend with IT Managed Services?
More often, IT Managed Service Provides are helping businesses reduce their financial exposure imposed by looking after IT assets which are essential, but not their core business. This is the same principle for OT.
At Parasyn, we specify or provide IT Infrastructure to support OT systems. This usually means working closely with IT Managed Service providers. The infrastructure we provide (or specify) may be hosted in a public or private data centre. Usually, they are configured for high availability. Though we provide consulting advice on lifecycle maintenance, in more recent times we are less often required to implement the lifecycle maintenance activities for servers, workstations and networks due to the rise of commoditisation. However, Operational situations still exist where segmentation of OT systems require their exclusion from the IT Managed Service Agreement in place for the balance of the enterprise.
Our OT Managed Services Mission
Our goal is to create organisational confidence in OT by staged tactical improvements and operational consistency. This requires the right management systems, the right people, the right practice and discipline.
Our goal is to complement our customer’s OT knowledge workers and deliver with certainty.