24 Hour Support: The New NOC and Help Desk Norm?

For the second time in recent weeks, I've heard from a software provider that's marching toward 24-hour support for VARs and managed services providers. It made me wonder: Is around-the-clock support the new norm for software partners and MSPs that offer help desk services and NOCs (network operations centers)? Here are some insights.

First, the news: Autotask's product support desk over the next quarter s ramping up to 24-hour phone support on business days -- from Sunday (8:00 p.m. Eastern Time) to Friday (8:00 p.m. Eastern Time), according to an announcement today. It's basically around-the-clock support five days per week. Kirt Coonradt, Autotask VP of client services, is leading the effort. Meanwhile, ConnectWise is preparing to launch 24x7 support sometime in Q3 2011 I believe. Earl Provin, director of support, is leading the effort. ConnectWise currently offers support from 8:00 a.m. to midnight Eastern.

There are several key takeaways: Autotask and ConnectWise are becoming global companies that need to support VARs and MSPs across North America, Europe and Australia (in particular). There are also signs of momentum in South Africa (we'll be sharing details during our own MSPmentor 100 webcast on February 16).

Meanwhile, more and more MSPs are serving multiple time zones. Plus, we're hearing about an Australia-based MSP mulling investments in the United States. So, it seems like 24x7 support is a growing requirement for MSPs that pursue multi-region mergers and acquisitions.

Still, I could be overstating the situation. I reached out to several NOC providers and help desk specialists for their perspectives. Lane Smith, CEO of Do IT Smarter, a Master MSP, responded with some timely perspectives. Do IT Smarter offers 24x7 NOC and help desk services to its managed services partners. But "only about 45% of our NOC services are 24X7 and less than 10% of the Help
Desk services are 24X7," Smith added. "We recommend the 24X7 for NOC services for all customers but generally do not see a need for the 24X7 Help Desk services."

Now here's the twist: A lot of customers say they want 24x7 support. But when Do IT Smarter asks the reseller or the end-customer for an emergency overnight contact, most partners and customers say the best option is not to call until 8:00 a.m. the following morning. "Our response is always then you do not need 24X7," Smith said.

We've reached out to additional NOC and help desk providers. If they share views we'll be sure to post follow-ups.

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TAGS: Help Desk
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