Life at a Managed Service Provider

By: Tom Ace

I have been a Systems Administrator now for going on 10 years and I have been around as far as working with different types of organizations. I started out as a Helpdesk drone with a local ISP and it took a while to adjust after being brainwashed at school that we all would come out being superstars and make lots of money. After a few months of explaining to people how to run IPCONFIG /RELEASE and RENEW I took the plunge and applied elsewhere.

My next position was with a bakery that had several offices all of Atlantic Canada and intially I was just a Support Tech but not long after I had been promoted to Sys Admin. I was happy. I liked being able to interact with staff and getting to know all of the inner workings of the environment. I felt very comfortable supporting everyone and ended up being one of the "go to" people after a while. Even after the company had been aquired by a much larger Organization I syill felt very much in control...and really it was good for me because I got to get exposed to new Technologies and become a part of larger projects Canada wide.

A few years later things began to slow down, same old thing day in and day out. Due to red tap and office politics it seemed like more projects were being cancelled or put on hold than actually moving forward to completion. Eventually I had enough, nothing to do and no new knowledge being aquired. Some people like the idea of just cruising along being the master of their domain but for me it got to be like pulling teeth. Once again I found myself browing the job sites and beefing up the resume.

My next adventure was with a large MSP. Well, it didn't start out large but we grew rather quickly and soon enough we actually had to move offices because we ran out of office space. The reason for the increase in staff of course is because we took on a lot more clients. Those of you not familiar with MSPs...a Managed Service Provided basically handles and supports systems for oraganizations that either do not have an I.T. department of their own or have decided to outsource pieces of the work in order to save money.

Each day was something new at this place and I was loving it, the time just flew by and there was so much work to be done barely looked up to peer out the window during an 8 hour shift. We had to know so many things about so many clients that before long the learning curve for new hires was very demanding and we did find ourselves losing the new guys quite often. Another challenge was actually training people for what we do. I felt bad seeing some of these people look at me with pale faces and nervous eye twitches after they sit through a day or two of listening to calls, fixing server, installing applications and lord knows what else.

As the years past we got to the point where we had to actually dedicate certain people to be Client Experts as we were just growing out of control. This gave some of the Junior people that actually did survicve the first few months a resource to talk to about a given client depending on what the issue was. At present our Client Experts now have several companies under their wing and it almsot seems as though we're migrating back to the "know everything about everyone" model. It starts to get a bit hard on the head from time to time trust me.

Another thing I find about working with a MSP is that the amount of correspondence between all of us with like email and Portal Announcements can pretty much take up your entire day. We get so many FYI's, proceedures, escalations notes and monitoring alerts to process in our brains that I'm surprised we can even think long enough to actually fix anything. lol I was thinking the other day that there are many clients whom I've never had dealings with for a very long time due to other commitments or projects and it's very easy to get out of touch with what is happening sometimes. I find I forget things like my login, what servers we access from the Internet and what applications they use.

It's common knowledge that the world of Information technology is very fast paced and ever changing but when you take that and multiply it across 40 or 50 seperate Clients all running unique infrastructures it can make for a scary work week. Feel free to visit my website http://techhelp4free.googlepages.com/myarticles for more articles, thanks for reading.

chao for now

TA

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