Dell has just unveiled a range of managed services specifically positioned at small and medium-sized businesses. Indeed, ProManage-Managed Services has already been pilot-tested in Dallas and New York, and is now available in 5,500 U.S. towns and cities in the United States.
The strategy behind Dell's move into managed services for the SMB market is to proactively monitor and manage customers' systems round-the-clock, be it network devices, desktop or servers, or even software applications. Where possible, potential problems are to be rectified before they happen.
Tim Griffin, Dell's vice president of global small and medium business services explains the value proposition, "Our new managed services do just that by remotely monitoring and fixing the vast majority of IT issues, so customers... can focus on running their businesses not troubleshooting the server that just went down."
According to Dell, the average business spends 70 percent of its IT budget on maintaining applications and IT infrastructure in general. Obviously, the company hopes to get some of that slice of the budget.
Three levels of services will be offered by Dell, which I summarize here:
Provides 24/7/365 remote monitoring; Dell Network operating center will alert customers or their appointed solution provider in the event of a problem. Repairs will be made either by customers or their provider. This is the bare bones plan here.
Cost per month: $9 per workstation; $29 per networked device; $59 per server
Includes all the monitoring and alerts found in Alert, and includes proactive remote repair of the monitored nodes. A service desk will also be available, and up to two hours of onsite customer support is provided every month. In addition, there will be an annual assessment as well as quarterly planning of IT resources.
Cost per month: $39 per workstation; $89 per networked device; $199 per server
Includes all the features of Resolution, and 24/7/365 end-user support as well as asset tracking. Assessment and planning is bumped up to every quarter, with patch management and vulnerability scanning thrown in. Application support is also provided in the form of support for Exchange and SQL. Dell says that there will be a local IT team assigned to each business to handle onsite repairs or to assist in IT planning.
Cost per month: $59 per workstation; $199 per networked device; $299 per server
Finally, there is a host of optional add-on services for any of the above plans. These include fixing virus and spyware issues, software support, data migration, installation, data storage and backup - just about everything done by a traditional IT department.
So what is my opinion of Dell's ProManage-Managed Services? Well, I am sure that some smaller SMBs will find one of the plans an excellent fit for their needs. However, I am not certain how more "medium-sized" businesses with more servers and perhaps a couple of hundred workstations can generate a reasonable return here - depending on locality, they might actually be better off hiring their own IT department.
In addition, while the various plans and pricing look pretty clear cut, I think that the devil is in the details. For example, how does Dell intend to remotely monitor and perform remote remediation, especially systems from other computer makers? Also, what are the resources and response time that Dell will be committing to in the event that an on-site visit is inevitable? After all, the quality of support can only be lackluster if the ratio of support personnel to customers is too high.
I am all for managed services; in this case, however, I recommend taking your time to carefully evaluate if Dell's managed services offering meets your requirements before jumping into it.