IT services firms increasingly rely on automation tools to boost efficiency.
SearchITChannel has followed this development over the past few months, covering the adoption of managed service provider (MSP) software products and emerging robotic process automation tools. The move to automate is a direct outgrowth of evolving channel business models. Channel companies that become MSPs find themselves offering services for a fixed fee. With that pricing approach, an MSP makes the most money if it can handle customer issues remotely, thereby minimizing truck rolls and on-premises support.
Dataprise, an MSP based in Rockville, Md., has followed that evolutionary path, shifting from a time-and-materials, break-fix approach to an MSP business model.
The fewer issues the customer has “the better it is for us,” said Mick Shah, senior vice president of technical services at Dataprise. “Our goal is to make sure that clients’ networks and servers and infrastructure are as healthy as possible.”
Tapping automation tools
To that end, Dataprise has been using Kaseya’s remote monitoring and management (RMM) software for about a decade. But over the past three years, the MSP has been tapping Kaseya’s automation tools. The MSP uses Kaseya’s IT Automation Framework, which embeds automation into an MSP’s management processes, and Kaseya’s Automation Exchange, an online marketplace for sharing, buying and selling automation tools for Kaseya products.
Currently, Dataprise has automated more than 300 scripts using Kaseya, Shah said. The scripts automate otherwise manual tasks that address a range of IT infrastructure problems. For instance, if Dataprise gets an event ID for hard disk error, it automatically runs a script to check/test the disk and send the results, Shah explained. In another example, if the MSP gets an Active Directory error, it runs a command through the script to fix the problem.
The scripts “automate a lot of the steps and the workflow so we are able to self-heal issues and do more with less folks,” he said. “We are more efficient now.”
Addressing clients’ business needs
Clients benefit as well. Shah noted customers might have to wait 15 to 20 minutes for a technician to manually fix an issue. But when automated tools do the work, there’s no wait time, he added.
Automation also means that the MSP’s personnel have more time to address customers’ business issues. He said Dataprise has specialists on staff who can advise clients on how to leverage technology to improve their businesses. Dataprise can help customers find the right line-of-business application or deploy business intelligence software to analyze their data.
“We are able to focus more on how to help customers get efficient and help them grow,” Shah said.