October 14, 2019

On-site versus remote IT support: Which is the better choice?

Technology infrastructure forms the backbone of many critical everyday business operations, but things aren’t getting any simpler under the hood. To ensure their systems run smoothly and to keep the increasing costs of unscheduled downtime at bay, business leaders need to think carefully about the choices they make. One of the most important is whether to have on-site versus remote IT support. For most small businesses, a mix of the two tends to be the optimal choice, but it’s important to know the pros and cons of each.

On-site support

Before the age of ubiquitous cloud technologies and workforce mobility, most IT support was provided on-site. On-site IT support may be provided by an in-house IT department, especially in the case of larger businesses with plenty of funding. For smaller organizations, which don’t need and/or can’t afford to maintain their own IT teams, the only practical option is to call an IT expert. This is also known as break/fix support, since you only ever call someone in when a problem arises.

However, over the years, managed IT services providers (MSPs) have moved beyond the break/fix support model to a more proactive support model that usually includes both on-site and remote support. On-site support is critical for physical hardware problems, such as a malfunctioning server or workstation that can’t be resolved remotely over the internet. In other words, if your company relies on its own physical hardware, you’ll need an on-site support contract to ensure issues are resolved quickly.

The biggest drawback with on-site support is that it can end up costing a lot. For more complex issues, the invoices can quickly pile up, since you’ll have to pay for hardware replacements, while support technicians themselves normally charge by the hour. If, however, you’re renting your hardware, your vendor contracts might include support at no extra price.

Remote IT support

Also known as remote help desk support or proactive support, remote support is favored among most small businesses because it’s more affordable, and costs are more predictable. With a remote support service, IT specialists will respond to support tickets within the deadline specified in the vendor’s service level agreement (SLA). They’ll then access your systems without having to be physically present at your premises. Remote support typically comes as part of managed IT services and/or cloud computing packages.

One of the most important advantages of remote support is that it’s delivered on demand for a set monthly fee. This makes it easier to budget for, and there aren’t any hidden costs, save for any hardware replacements or upgrades that might be necessary. However, since most IT issues are software-related, they can usually be addressed immediately and resolved fast, especially since vendors are bound by their SLAs to respond within a certain time frame. MSPs often go even further to proactively prevent problems from occurring in the first place by monitoring your systems around the clock.

The biggest drawback of remote support is that it can’t resolve physical IT problems, which means it’s not something you can solely rely on if your business is still heavily dependent on in-house hardware. As such, the best option for you depends on your current technology environment. Some businesses, such as those which have an entirely remote workforce, only need remote support, while those with complex in-house systems will usually find a combination of remote and on-site IT support far more valuable.

In the end, there’s a rapidly growing preference to move all suitable operations over to the cloud to enjoy proactive support, built-in redundancies, and anywhere accessibility. This also eliminates the need for costly hardware upgrades and manual deployments of new systems.

Frontline offers IT support solutions tailored to the unique needs of your Los Angeles-based business. Call us today to schedule your first consultation.

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