Municipal IT Budget Planning – Part 3: Municipality Proactive Maintenance

Blog / Municipal IT Budget Planning – Part 3: Municipality Proactive Maintenance

This is part 3 of a 9-part series that will look at selected areas of interest to Municipalities, pertaining to IT Budget Planning.  Please contact me if you would like copies of other articles. 

 

Since their introduction into modern business environments, IT Systems have required maintenance to provide the functionality and performance they claim to have. They are incredibly complex systems that process hundreds of millions – sometimes billions – of pieces of information every day. Maintenance is usually divided into 2 segments; Hardware – ensuring the physical components are operating correctly, and Software – ensuring the operating instructions don’t corrupt the processed data. Maintenance can be either Break-Fix – waiting for something go wrong, and then fixing it, – or Proactive – performing preventive tasks to reduce the risk of a system crash. Because of our dependence on the data processed and stored on these systems, Proactive Maintenance – and it’s Big Brother – Managed IT, have become vital parts of ANY well-run IT system.

 

To avoid confusion, let’s define the two terms:

Proactive Maintenance (PM): Is the act of ensuring an IT system or component is functioning correctly, by monitoring its’ performance and applying Manufacturer’s updates, as they become available.  For example, in the case of a server, it would be monitored to ensure there are no hardware errors (such as overheating or reaching capacity) and Microsoft Windows updates would be applied monthly.

Managed IT (MIT): Is the act of ensuring the IT system or component is performing its’ intended purpose by meeting the business needs and objectives of the Users.  Using our server example, it means that Proactive Maintenance is performed, Technical and Capacity issues are resolved, Task Suitability is evaluated, the Life-Cycle is managed (i.e.: Planned Replacement), and its’ status is reported regularly.  MIT treats IT systems and components as Business Assets and focuses on their effectiveness in the organization.

Thus, PM is a Technical Service, whereas MIT is a Technical and Business Service; PM is part of MIT. Even last week’s topic – Backup and Disaster Recovery – can be considered part of MIT.

For years, PM was an acceptable method of maintaining IT Systems, especially in small Municipalities.  So why has MIT become important? What’s changed in IT systems, when compared to 5 or 10 years ago, that requires a better (Business) approach?  There are 3 primary reasons:

  1. IT Systems are more complex
  2. IT Systems are more tightly-integrated into the mission-critical aspects of Municipal Operations
  3. IT Systems are under greater threat from Cyber Criminals than ever before (Little Idea #3 **)

I’ve written about these topics at length in previous editions of our Weekly Tech Update and highlighted some of them in Part 1, an Introduction to IT Budgeting for Municipalities, so I won’t belabour them here; the numerous examples speak for themselves.

 

A central component of most MIT offerings is their “all-inclusive” fixed-cost price model, meaning that the Services provided, such as any Troubleshooting and Break-Fix work, are included in them, while PM usually treats this type of labour on an Ad-Hoc basis.  For example, think Full Meal vs. A La Carte.  

We’re going to compare PM with MIT in our Budget Planning – and we’re going to assume that the existing hardware and software are sufficient and do NOT require any replacement.  We’re also going to assume the hardware has appropriate Manufacturer’s Repair or Replacement Warranty. Thus, there will be no Capital Costs in our Budget Planning. Here is our scenario *:

  • New System – or one that’s LESS THAN 5 years old (Little Idea #2 **)
  • IT Systems comprised of:
    • 1 x Physical server hosting 4 Virtual (VM) servers
      • (Domain Controller, File Server, Exchange Email & Applications)
    • 4 Network Devices (Firewall, Switch & 2 x Wi-Fi Access Points)
    • 25 Workstations & Laptops
  • Budget Plan: 12 months

 

Option #1: Proactive Maintenance (PM) for Servers & Network, plus Ad-Hoc Support Services

In the previous 5 to 10 years, this level of Maintenance & Support was considered normal.  By today’s Standards, it would be considered bare-minimum of Support for an IT System this size.

 

Operating Costs:

  • 5 x Server Hardware Alerts (Physical + 4 x Virtual [VM]): $250 x 12 months = $3,000
    • ($50 each physical server or VM)
  • 5 x Server Windows Updates: $625 x 12 = $7,500
    • ($125 each physical server or VM)
  • 4 x Network Hardware Alerts (Firewall, Switch & 2 x Wi-Fi): $60 x 12 = $720
    • ($15 each device)
  • Monthly MISC Ad-hoc Support Services Provision (2 hours): $350 x 12 = $4,200
  • Total: $15,420

Total Budget Option #1: $15,420 + 10% contingency = $16,962 -> $17,000

 

Under this program, the servers are monitored for Hardware Alerts to detect malfunctions, and they receive monthly Windows updates. It’s Best Practice to install Windows server updates manually, as not all updates are compatible with all hardware and 3rd party applications. Having Microsoft automatically install server updates can cause a server to crash. The network devices are also monitored for Hardware Alerts, but the workstations are not.

Alerts are sent to a Technician when a component fails (i.e.: bad hard drive) or a parameter exceeds a predefined value (i.e.: excessive temperature.)  Once alerted, the Technician proactively resolves the problem before it brings a system down; using the provisioned 2 hours of Ad-Hoc Support.

This causes confusion for many people as they assume PM includes “everything” related to the server and monitored network devices, which is NOT true.

The Ad-Hoc Support also covers items such as User Help-Desk calls, Server and Network Troubleshooting, and other required Support (i.e.: 3rd party Software Vendor Support, Email Recovery, Cyber Security issues, etc.)

Ad-Hoc Support is listed as a Provision and is most often charged by-the-hour.  Thus, actual monthly costs could vary, depending on the amount of Service required.  In some instances, Ad-hoc Support could amount to thousands in unplanned expenses, if a system-wide issue requires extensive Service (i.e.: Ransomware attack.)

 

Option #2: PM for Servers, Network, and Workstations, plus Ad-Hoc Support Services

This is the same as Option #1, but adds Workstation and Laptop Hardware Alerts

 

Operating Costs:

  • 5 x Server Hardware Alerts (Physical + 4 x Virtual): $250 x 12 months = $3,000
  • 5 x Server Windows Updates: $625 x 12 = $7,500
  • 4 x Network Hardware Alerts (Firewall, Switch & 2 x Wi-Fi): $60 x 12 = $720
  • 25 x Workstation & Laptop Hardware Alerts: $500 x 12 = $6,000
    • ($20 each Workstation or Laptop)
  • Monthly MISC Ad-hoc Support Services Provision (2 hours): $350 x 12 = $4,200
  • Total: $21,420

Total Budget Option #2: $21,420 + 10% contingency = $23,562 -> $23,600

 

The budget has increased by $6,600 and the Service now includes Workstation and Laptop Hardware Alerts.  Thus for example, if a workstation were to have an overheating problem – or a failing hard drive, the alert would be sent to a Technician and it could be resolved (using the Ad-Hoc Support hours), often before the workstation fails completely.

 

Option #3: Fully-Managed IT for All Systems

Fully-managed IT encompasses a wide variety of Services designed to fulfill the mandate of Managed IT defined above.  Most often, the cost is a fixed monthly fee per-device.

 

Operating Costs:

  • 5 x Server Fixed-cost Managed Services (Physical + 4 x Virtual): $750 x 12 months = $9,000
    • (Physical Server + 2VMs: $650 plus $50 each additional VM = $750)
  • 4 x Network Fixed-cost Managed Services (Firewall, Switch & 2 x Wi-Fi): $120 x 12 = $1,440
    • ($30 each device)
  • 25 x Workstation & Laptop Fixed-cost Managed Services: $1,250 x 12 = $15,000
    • ($50 each Workstation or Laptop)
  • Total: $25,440

Total Budget Option #3: $25,440 + 10% contingency = $27,984 -> $28,000

 

Notice that monthly Ad-Hoc Support Services are no longer needed, as the intent of the Managed IT program is to provide all Troubleshooting and Support Services, as part of the fixed-cost Service.

So far, this speaks to the Technical maintenance aspect of Option #3, but typically included are a suite of Business Services: Asset Management – including Inventory and Technical History, Life-Cycle Management, Procurement & Deployment, new Technology Planning, and Cyber Security Services – to name a few.

In essence, Managed IT transfers the Management and responsibility for IT Systems to the IT Provider, who have the proper resources and expertise.  

This is the true benefit of Managed IT ***.

 

Next week, we’ll explore Cyber Security.  Until then, please contact me or your Account Manager, if you would like some personalized help with some stress-free Proactive Maintenance Budgeting.

 

Thanks!

Dave White 

TRINUS

stress-free IT

dwhite@trinustech.com

trinustech.com

 

* – Full Disclosure: we’re going to use services and prices for Trinus-supplied systems and services. Other provider costs and equipment may vary.

** – Little Ideas – along with the BIG IDEA – were presented and defined in Part 1 of this series

*** – We’ll explore Managed IT services in greater detail in the final part (9) of this series

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