Managed IT vs. Reactive Support; A Comparison for Small Business

Thursday, August 18th, 2016 by Tyler Okhovatian

Preventive Managed vs. Reactive Break-Fix Server, Network and Computer Maintenance

There is a saying in medicine ‘prevention is better than cure’. It is something many IT departments also live by. It is always easier, cheaper and less stressful to proactively manage an IT infrastructure than reactively support it.
The increasing dependence on technology to drive productivity and innovation puts intense pressure on IT departments. Whether you’re a large multinational or a growing small business, you likely depend on technology to get the job done. There isn’t much that happens in business that isn’t enabled by an IT system of some kind.

What is proactive maintenance?

Proactive maintenance is a program of scheduled tasks that keeps IT systems working at their maximum efficiency. It can include everything from running database maintenance to changing out hard drives. The intent of proactive maintenance is to head off potential issues before they arise.

What is reactive support?

Reactive support is all about fixing something when it goes wrong. You’re reacting to a situation such as a server failing or a UPS going down. Reactive support will repair or replace the faulty item and aims restore service as quickly as possible.

Why proactive IT maintenance always trumps reactive support

There are three key reasons why proactive IT maintenance will always be preferable to reactive support.

  • Service availability
  • Cost
  • Active planning and decision making

Service availability

How long could you function without a core piece of your own IT? What if a production server went down right now? Chances are productivity would slow to a crawl or stop altogether. Customers would lose access or you wouldn’t be able to service those customers as efficiently. That’s something that can should be avoided at all costs.
The role of proactive maintenance is to minimize downtime as much as possible to avoid this kind of disruption. Planned outages are infinitely better for the company and its customers than unplanned ones. One type of outage makes you look good, the other does not!

Cost

Unplanned outages cost money. Response engineers, replacement parts and repairs, plus loss of service can be very expensive. Planned maintenance is still an overhead but is generally a lot lower than reactive support. For example, proactively replacing a power supply will cost money, but having to replace that power supply and a server because of a voltage surge will cost a whole lot more.

Proactive maintenance can also extend the service life of components, maintain higher productivity, reduce call-out costs and lower the overall IT spend.

Active planning and decision making

Proactive IT maintenance is scheduled, predicted and costed. The business will know when, why, exactly what is happening and how much it will cost. A stable infrastructure also helps IT planning. Upgrades, service improvements, hardware replacement, licensing and more all require a stable IT environment within which to work.
Proactive maintenance is always preferable to reactive support. It is cheaper, more professional and helps businesses cope with the demands put on them by stakeholders and customers. In their eyes, nothing less than 100% uptime will do!
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