When Tennessee Urology Associates IT Manager/Compliance Officer, Scott Hawkins, undertook the challenge of identifying a new IT managed service provider, little did he know that his investigation would lead him to Driven Technologies, a sister company of Chattanooga-based MSA Digital, which was founded in 1974 solely as a copy machine sales and servicing dealer. Having recently relocated from Indianapolis, Scott was unfamiliar with the area’s managed service providers. But after interviewing a number of providers, he found himself intrigued with Driven Technologies. Although smaller than other providers, Driven Technologies appeared both more agile and responsive to the growing computer network requirements.
Tasked with the responsibility of maintaining a network system that supported a large staff of medical care providers in seven separate offices, Driven Technologies has exceeded the expectations of Scott and Tennessee Urology Associates’ many users. Cost-effective, secure, and predictably reliable, Driven Technologies proved to be the ideal solution for Tennessee Urology Associates.
In this issue of Everything Knoxville, We are pleased to provide this interview with MSA Digital’s Knoxville-based Technology Consultant, Yvonne Malewski.
EK: Tell our readers just what a managed service provider is and what critical services they provide.
Yvonne: From individualized services to full-scale managed solutions, Driven Technologies helps businesses manage their technologies better and more efficiently. With a truly holistic approach to partnership, we’ve built our company on keeping the business goals of our customers in mind while constantly adding value through all phases of projects and across all major technology verticals. This can range from your one-person operation to 1,000+ employees.
EK: Some businesses with larger networks, often spanning multiple locations, rely on their own internal resources to provide these computer network services. Describe the recent trend for a growing number of companies to outsource these responsibilities to an independent managed service provider like Driven Technologies.
Yvonne: We are definitely seeing a trend in IT now towards innovation, utilizing various tools and alternative strategies such as cloud and managed services. The cloud can be utilized for many things, including application as a service and data center/network resources. Managed services can be utilized to support and augment the existing IT organization and, in some cases, provide additional cost savings.
The reasons for the shift towards managed services specifically starts with a simple question: Can we benefit from IT support provided by individuals located outside of our organization, and if so, is there a cost benefit to doing this as well? That’s a great question, but to frame it properly, let’s first talk about what business trends are pushing IT employees and how IT staff is facilitating the trend.
Uber, the world’s largest taxi service, doesn’t own any taxis. Airbnb, the world’s largest hospitality group, doesn’t own a single hotel. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, doesn’t create content, and Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. These innovations are fantastic and create new opportunities for organizations to go to market and engage with their customers in many new and exciting ways. Technology innovations are also allowing organizations to conduct business internally in new ways, as well allowing 61% of the work force today to work remotely. Providing mobility on campus through ubiquitous wireless coverage and allowing individuals to bring their own devices to work are now expected by employees, guests, and contractors.
So how are IT organizations keeping pace with supporting far more devices, providing access to more robust applications, preparing for disaster recovery and back-up solutions, and defending against cyber threats, all while being asked to reduce cost? The answer is difficult and unique to each organization and requires many things, including additional training and research, use of centralized management tools, improved network and data center design and architecture, use of automation, and a great support structure.
The problem is that in smaller organizations (a couple of hundred desktops or less), you’re talking about a one to three man IT shop where each person wears many hats and is already maxed out in time and day-to-day responsibilities. Where are they going to get the time to learn all of these new skills, where’s the budget for all of the new tools and classes, and what happens if one of these key employees gets frustrated and leaves, taking their knowledge about the environment with them? Filling that gap and losing that knowledge base can be detrimental to the business. In many cases, the answer is to partner with a managed services provider to manage a piece of the IT infrastructure so the team can be more strategic and focus on the more difficult and meaningful projects like virtualization, network and data center upgrades, re-architecting the current network or DC for optimization. In other cases, an IT organization might say “we have expertise in some areas like desktop management, network and data center implementation, and support; however, we require assistance in designing and supporting our wireless infrastructure and security.”
There is no one answer, as every organization is unique in the skills that they currently have and strategy that they employ, but utilizing an outside service to fill the gaps in personnel where needed can help add additional expertise where needed, provide relief to an already overstressed and overburdened organization, and be a fall back plan for a business and a receptacle for knowledge transfer in the event that they lose a key IT employee.
EK: Driven Technologies provides an extensive list of critical services necessary to meet the growing needs placed on your clients’ growing computer networking demands. Describe several of the most important services that you provide.
Yvonne: Driven Technologies has a number of services we provide. We classify each in its own Technology Vertical and provide managed service, proactive monitoring, and support, as well as project related services. These range from SECURITY (firewalls, policy, social engineering and penetration testing), DATA CENTER (server storage, disaster recovery, load balancing/application delivery), NEWTORKING (routers, switches, design, SDN/SD-WAN), WIRELESS (AP’s, Per/Post mapping, security configuration), and MANAGED SERVICES (support account all verticals, custom support agreements, patch management).
EK: How has the growing public concern for security and privacy, not to mention liability, changed the manner in which you address these issues with your clients?
Yvonne: Security is on the top of everyone’s radar these days. Cyber hackers are getting more sophisticated, targeted in their attacks, and professional in their approach every day, and it is very difficult and likely impossible to prevent a well-funded cyber attacker from breaching the walls of their target.
If an organization is interested in optimizing their security dollars and partnering with someone who focuses on security solutions as a whole and not just selling hardware and software to provide security solutions, they will often employ the services of a security based managed services provider. When choosing a managed security provider, it is important to choose one that understands the security lifecycle process, the layered approach necessary to provide optimal security solutions, and one that is able to provide more than just one manufacturer’s security products.
EK: With the need to provide routine performance monitoring, preventative maintenance, optimization, and security backup management, it would seem that many businesses might lack the capacity internally to provide these services. Your thoughts?
Yvonne: That is correct! We talk to customers all the time that have some or all of the tools to facilitate some or all of these functions but don’t have the time or personnel to provide the care and feeding that these tools require. Sometimes we find that the tools that they have are outdated or were never really installed and integrated properly, so they’ve not been useful to the organization in a meaningful way. In other words, the systems are there, but the human resources required to operate them are not, or vice versa. This is where a managed service partner can provide a tremendous amount of value by delivering a current relevant tool set or personnel to support these needs.
EK: What size networks does Driven Technologies support, and how can a company or organization that might have use of your managed services learn more?
Yvonne: Driven Technologies provides services to businesses from 20 desktops to Fortune 500 companies. Some of our customers require remote support only, and others require a combination of full-time or part-time on-side support. We provide project related services, managed services, and sell hardware and software solutions to help our organizations achieve their business goals. Driven Technologies can often save a customer a tremendous amount of money, provide additional expertise and support to their current IT team, and facilitate business growth through technical solutions while protecting the organizations from cyber threats and increasing uptime and availability.
To learn more, you are encouraged to visit www.driventechmsa.com or contact Yvonne Malewski at Driven Technologies of MSA – Knoxville at 865-323-2459. Additional offices include Chattanooga, Atlanta, Dalton, and Houston.
Driven Technologies of MSA – Knoxville