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April 4, 2007

Managed services are alive and well

Computacenter recently extended its flagship IT services deal with BT Group to supply and manage its desktop infrastructure. The deal replaces an existing five-year contract that was worth around GBP30 million annually to Computacenter. It also reveals that, while there is an influx of managed services deals being taken back in-house, the managed services marketplace is very much alive and well.

By CBR Staff Writer

Desktop management can be a complex discipline for IT departments. IT managers continue to be frustrated by the high cost and growing number of tasks required to keep their desktop infrastructure ticking over. Much of the cost of owning an unmanaged PC is incurred after the initial deployment: on maintenance, helpdesk support, security, and software distribution and management charges – these can amount to as much as five times the initial purchase cost of the PC.

Under pressure by their boards to reduce IT costs, IT managers have found that, although the price of desktops has plummeted since the mid-1990s, any savings on product acquisitions have been overshadowed by support costs, which have escalated beyond many people’s expectations. Managed services is one possible answer to the problem, freeing up IT staff to concentrate on more strategic, value-adding functions rather than answering helpdesk telephone calls and emails.

This contract renewal from BT Group comes with an extension for Computacenter, in that the former deal covered the UK only, but this new agreement covers 112,000 PCs and laptops across 54 countries. Computacenter will support BT’s international operation from a centralized helpdesk, but will use partner companies to handle onsite support in countries where it does not have a presence.

To be fair, this BT/Computacenter deal is not managed services in its purest form (which is a one-to-many delivery model for the IT services provider), as it includes Computacenter buying back most of BT’s desktop and laptop estate, and leasing it back to BT at a fixed monthly rate. Although this is not pure managed services, it does make sense in that it gives Computacenter more control. As part of the deal, Computacenter will offer BT a menu of desktop models and services, reflecting the broader industry trend towards standardized desktop management services.

However, it is not necessarily the case that one size fits all. Some desktop managed services offerings, for example, are for organizations with 100 to 1,000 seats – there are clearly many organizations that fall outside these limits, including this BT/Computacenter deal.

Of course, some organizations have discovered that managed services is not right for them for various reasons, be it desktop support or another area, and have therefore brought the service back in-house. There are, however, plenty of organizations that have found managed services to work well. The use of managed services by companies such as BT Group highlights the potential successes that are out there for the taking by organizations of all sizes, and the growth in managed services overall looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (

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