When we talk to people about managed IT services we frequently hear something like this: “So we pay a little each month to ensure that we’re covered when something bad happens, rather than paying a lot when it happens. That’s basically insurance, right?” Sort of. We don’t think of it as insurance because we proactively invest in processes, monitoring, and tools to prevent bad things from happening. I started to write that insurance doesn’t proactively try to prevent problems, but that’s not exactly true.

At a macro level, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests cars and pushes for laws to improve vehicle safety. And though it is not directly tied to insurance companies, certification by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is often a prerequisite for items being installed into an insured environment. Insurance companies don’t appear to do much on a micro level though. For instance, would an annual home inspection help prevent homeowners insurance claims? If so it seems like that would be a smart investment.

The managed IT services industry is still young, and not much is happening yet on a macro level to improve the reliability (IT’s equivalent to safety) of hardware and software systems. Our proactive efforts happen at a micro level. They basically revolve around root cause analysis (figuring out how to prevent a recurrence of something bad that has happened) and predictive risk assessment (guessing the things that might break based on a knowledge of how the underlying systems work). These are some of the things Ripple does to proactively prevent disruption, downtime, and data loss:

• Weekly root cause analysis reviews of similar cases across clients and brands.
Server backup and antivirus software is included in our service plan. They’re not optional.

• Customized processes for each client (new employee, retiring employee, new computer, retiring computer, etc.). These are living documents that get updated as things change and (try to) ensure that we only have to learn things once.

• Monitoring of servers and services running on those servers, computers, and network equipment.

• Training and education (of employees and clients).

• Periodic scheduled maintenance and updates.

So even when you don’t see or hear us, we’re working on ways to prevent IT problems, because, to update an old saying, a dollar of prevention is more profitable than 16 dollars of cure.