For MSPs scaling a business whilst keeping up with the latest technologies is a difficult task in a market where margins are slim and competition...
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MSPs and High Availability
Being a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a lot like being in a shallow raft on the Pacific Ocean and the deep blue is full of Sharks chomping away at you to become the next client provider.
The competition is fierce with competitors ready to pounce should your service fail to live up to increasingly steep demands.
High availability and the continual desire for operational effectiveness 100% of the time understandably puts a lot of strain on businesses. It’s not uncommon for MSPs to claim that “they have very high SLAs to meet” on a “budget that doesn’t dedicate resource for monitoring”. In fact, there’s even an entire eBook written about the subject of 100% uptime expectations and reality.
The phrase ‘High Availability’ generally refers to a system or component that is continually operational for a desirably long length of time, hence the obsessive measurement of 100% and never failing. There is a clearly problem here for MSPs to meet this expectation, however in reality high availability can help deliver directly to the bottom line and here’s how.
How High Availability Helps
High availability reduces both system downtime and data loss helping MSPs meet those high demand SLAs. Systems that employ high availability benefit from one sole continuous system with alerts, reporting, and KPIs pre-assigned for their customers.
Employee productivity in turn takes a boost and there is diminished risk in losing valuable customers to unnecessary faults in service. This keeps those precious customers happy overall and sticking with you as an MSP for longer. Which of course, means less spend on acquiring new customers.
Many providers however still try and forge ahead with old systems and infrastructure that is more a hindrance than a help. This not only makes delivering on those SLAs extra tough but scalability takes a hit meaning you lose efficiency as a provider.
Slaver Server Clustering – Its Role in High Availability
Monitoring systems can automatically load-balance across multiple slaves and reallocate monitoring duties if a slave server fails. This is a godsend for MSPs as you get everything that your heart desires. You get the high availability needed to keep your customers happy. You also get the scalability and functionality to expand and adjust whilst still remaining operational; great in an industry where business can fluctuate. Finally, you get all the aforementioned without any additional overheads. Winner.
The Proof in the MSP Pudding
Schiphol Telematics, the network infrastructure provider for Amsterdam Airport is a great example. They quickly found that their network environment grew increasingly complex and difficult to monitor. Having high visibility and availability was paramount for them as they simply can’t ask air traffic control to “stop for a moment while they shut down and restart”.
After implementing an MSP high availability solution Schiphol Telematics were able to improve their delivery of network services to their customer base. Being under so much pressure from customers, implementing a system such as this made them able to deliver as older systems got in the way and added to the complexity. You can check out the full case study here.
Similarly Atomic Data; an MSP that identifies, designs, implements and manages their customers’ technology solutions also saw fit to move to high availability. They needed a fully flexible and configurable tool which could monitor 1,100 devices split over 100 sites. Sixteen servers were needed to handle the administration, while databases and multiple slave clusters in multiple internal and customer locations were used to handle the load monitoring and email notifications.
Ultimately availability means money in today’s world, none more so than the ultra-competitive MSP market where providers need almost continuous operation of their resources. Loss of service and outages impact directly to the bottom line in defaulted SLAs and potential loss of clients. High availability is there to pre-empt, minimize and help rectify loss causing outages and is something all MSPs should consider.
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