Magazine Article | January 17, 2012

Technical Assessment, Managed Services Net New Client For MSP

By Pedro Pereira, Business Solutions magazine.

If you want to win deals in the IT services market, it helps to offer something your competitor doesn’t, and that is what WebPoint IT Solutions did when it recently approached a prospective client with chronic IT problems. WebPoint won the client over by proposing a comprehensive network assessment and promising long-term stability through managed services.

The client, Rose Rand Wallace Attorneys, was experiencing issues caused by overloaded servers, unstable workstations with inadequate memory, spotty virtual private network connections, and unfiltered spam. Problems were especially acute in the Kinston, NC, location, where sluggish computers hurt productivity.

“We sent a sales representative to discuss WebPoint’s capability to identify the current state of the network through a technical assessment,” says Bill Long III, COO of WebPoint, a $4.5 million MSP in Rocky Mount, NC. “The sales rep also relayed to the client the importance of ongoing managed services to keep the network stable once all the issues were resolved.”

Rose Rand Wallace already had a service provider, which did not offer 24/7 remote monitoring and management (RMM) services. The provider, says Long, had been unable to resolve the client’s needs and concerns satisfactorily.

The client agreed to an assessment by WebPoint, which identified a number of problem areas, including the need to replace workstations and networking gear, update business applications, and upgrade operating systems, infrastructure, and security software. WebPoint proposed a $50,000 IT overhaul and a long-term managed services contract, all of which were accepted by the client.

Selling The Advantages Of RMM Services
Since changing its focus to managed services in 2007, WebPoint has been engaging clients with assessments that match IT proposals to business goals. Key to this approach is the promise of long-term stability through managed services following corrective action. It’s an approach Long says WebPoint started to use after receiving business process training from its managed services vendor, N-able Technologies. WebPoint uses N-able’s N-central RMM tool to monitor client networks.

The Rose Rand Wallace project consisted of a sixmonth phased implementation. Phase one included deploying N-able software agents to monitor the project from start to finish, allowing for immediate corrective action when necessary. The first phase also included the automation of data backups, workstation replacements, software security updates, and deployment of a new NetGear switch in the Kinston location.

Five more phases followed, during which a T1 connection in Kinston was converted to Metro Ethernet, speeding connectivity to 10 Mbps from 1.44 Mbps. Login VPN scripts in Kinston were modified so users could access resources locally instead of having to use a VPN. A new server was deployed in Kinston to handle the workload, and Exchange was deployed as a virtual server. WebPoint also installed malware protection and antispam software across the network, in addition to updating Microsoft Office and Windows.

Less IT Troubleshooting Is A Win-Win
Throughout the process, preventing downtime was paramount. “As a result, changes to the infrastructure were performed slowly and with much testing. Between each small change, we waited sometimes a week or so before making additional changes to the network,” he says.

Through each phase, WebPoint engineers kept tabs on the work remotely through the N-able tool. At one point when an Exchange server went down during the night, a WebPoint engineer was able to remotely reboot it before the office staff got to work in the morning.

Long says the N-able system helped in other ways, such as remotely updating software systems, which allowed WebPoint to perform tasks off-hours that otherwise would have required interrupting the staff.

“We’re getting near the end of the project, and we are currently working to deploy another physical server in the client’s Raleigh office since they are growing at that location,” says Long.

Results so far have been positive, Long says. The client is functioning at a higher level of stability, reliability, and speed, and has enjoyed a 50% reduction in the number of troubleshooting calls — all of which bodes well for future business.