IBM is extending its outsourced IT management services to appeal to a broader range of business customers. The new portfolio includes a set of standard services that will make outsourcing more affordable for SME customers as well as large organisations.
Available immediately, the additions to IBM's Remote Managed Infrastructure Services (RMIS) are more modular and standardised than was previously the case, enabling customers to choose which functions they wish to outsource to IBM.
"We can help take the operational workload off the customer, so they can re-allocate resources in their IT department to dealing with other challenges," said Andy Rowarth, UK director of IBM Global Technology Services.
In the current economic climate, IBM believes it can help firms that may have been forced to slash their IT staff by taking away some everyday management tasks. It can also support firms migrating from legacy systems by taking on the management of these while the company shifts resources to the new systems.
In addition, IBM said that its team can bring skills and processes such as change management and asset management, that a company may be too small to have rolled out using its own staff. IBM's definition of an SME includes companies with fewer than 1,000 staff.
The new services are divided into Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. Bronze offers basic monitoring and notification services, while Silver includes everything from Bronze level plus systems administration functions. Gold level is for customers that want high availability of IT services and "major involvement from IBM" in the running of their infrastructure.
Mike Dorosh, Global Services manager for IBM, said that, while Bronze level is chiefly about sensing and delivering alerts, the firm had "aggressive" service level agreements on response times.
The Silver level includes operating system management, print output management and root cause determination, and may in future be split into more than one service level to give greater choice.
Dorosh said that customers could choose to have some servers managed at Bronze level, while others were on Silver or Gold. IBM will in future add the flexibility to provide a different service level at weekends than during the week, for example.
Customers outsourcing IT management to IBM will on average see savings of about 20 per cent compared with managing internally, according to Dorosh, while some customers may see savings up to 50 per cent. IBM is introducing a return-on-investment calculator so that prospective clients can clearly see the benefit they can expect to receive.
The entry-level price is about £50,000 to £100,000 for a three-year contract, according to Dorosh, who claimed that IBM can come in and start managing all but the most complex IT systems within 30 days of the contract being signed.
Dorosh also said that RMIS could be seen as an intermediate step before customers move over to having much of their IT infrastructure hosted by IBM or other service providers.
"In five years' time, most firms will be looking to get services off site completely to the cloud. In a way, this is about preparing customers for this," he said.
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