"Remote Hands" vs "Smart Hands" Services: What's the Difference?
In this article we aim to provide a simple yet detailed explanation of Smart Hands and Remote Hands services and how they fit in your business strategy and IT function.
In short, Smart Hands and Remote Hands services are various levels of first line tech support provided in data centres. It is a great way to extend your office based IT team with ‘hands and eyes’ at any data centre around the world where you have hardware and network infrastructure.
The general perception is that these services are very expensive and are only provided by data centres and colocation data centres.
However, there are independent companies out there specializing in first-line tech support. They provide the same quality service, their field technicians are equipped with the same qualifications and usually worked at data centres before joining an independent Smart Hands service provider. Furthermore, independent Smart hands vendors often work in partnership with colocation DCs as they do work there for customers regularly.
Practically, large organizations that own large network infrastructure at multiple geographical locations, more often than not utilize these local experts for on-site first line technical support. Outsourcing this function has become the industry standard.
These field technicians and field engineers become part of your extended IT department, working together with your office based employees remotely every day or on demand. Yet they are not on your payroll and they work on demand to suit your business needs.
The complexity of the tasks can vary from simple tasks like rebooting a server to more complex tasks like replacing server components or troubleshooting router ports and fibre optic connections. More on this will follow.
What are “Remote Hands” Services?
Remote hands services include tasks such as server reboots, reseating connections, checking port numbers, securing cabling, observing or reporting indicators on equipment and rudimentary observation of the environment. These tasks are accomplished remotely without the client having to be present at the colocation facility.
Why are Remote Hands Services Vital?
Remote hand services are ideal for businesses that lease space in colocation facilities located miles from their office.
These services enable you to manage your data center without incurring the costs of sending your IT team to the data centre. Another consideration is that you can scale up and down the team sent by the service provider, instead of employing a number of permanent IT personnel.
Remote hands services allow you to perform crucial IT tasks during odd hours, weekends and holidays. What’s more, these services are available 24/7 even when your IT staff isn’t available.
Keep in mind that problems with your IT infrastructure tend to occur when you least expect them.
The ability to attend to critical IT issues within a data center quickly by extension means that you can enjoy guaranteed uptime with improved speed and flexibility.
Remote Hands Services
Typically, Remote Hands services differ by vendor. To give you an idea, here are some of the tasks that remote hands services traditionally cover:
- Moving or securing network cables
- Network router and switch port checking
- Server reboots
- Power cycling
- Inventory management and labeling
- Handling shipping and receiving requests
- Reporting on equipment performance
- Visual Audits
What are “Smart Hands” Services?
Smart Hands services include more complex tasks that need someone physically present in the colocation facility. Some examples include large deployments or decommissioning projects, setting up a firewall, operating system installation, troubleshooting and fixing network infrastructure equipment, media and supply management, complex cable configurations, equipment testing, and general troubleshooting.
Due to the additional expertise required, smart services typically aren’t included in the colocation providers’ fees. Instead, Smart Hands services get billed by the hour. It is essential that organizations coordinate with service vendors to clarify the services that are not covered. These tasks will vary in size, often requiring larger teams. Independent Smart hands vendors are most suitable in these instances.
Why are Smart Hands Services Vital?
There will always come a time when there are too many things on your IT department’s plate. It’s not ideal for any growing company to have an IT team that manually handles all operations within the datacenter. That would require maintaining a larger IT staff as well as providing comprehensive training, two things that significantly reduce your profit margin. Deployment and decommissioning work are particularly labor intensive and require larger teams.
Freeing your IT department from having to deal with infrastructure issues allows them to focus more on value-adding projects. Smart Hands Services strengthen the data infrastructure of companies without compromising their productivity. They offer immediate responses to various data center problems to reduce liability issues and potential data breaches.
Smart Hands Services
Typically, Smart Hands services differ for every vendor. To give you an idea, here are some of the tasks that smart hands services usually cover:
- Configuration of the firewall
- Complex cable configurations
- Router and switch configuration
- Server repair, part replacement
- Hardware and software replacement or installation
- Placement device management
- Test devices and fix errors
- Rack and stacking services
- Shipping and receiving
- Automated maintenance
- Setting up and Maintaining Backups
- Pack and unpack
- Detect and respond to threats
- Moving equipment
- Operating system and server installation
- Power cycle
- On-site and off-site technical support and troubleshooting
- Remote server restarts
- Cloud cross-connect
- Remote Hands VS. Smart Hands
As previously mentioned, different service vendors offer different services. Colocation DCs may offer most, if not all, of the data center support services mentioned above. Independent service vendors typically offer you an all inclusive service or tailor it specifically to your requirements.
In terms of services, remote hands and smart hands differ significantly from one another.
Remote Hands services often include initial support services by colocation providers. These involve remote IT support usually kept at a minimum. Simple tasks like cycling a server’s power, checking the status of an indicator light, and reporting the status back to the customer are performed depending on the organization’s needs.
In contrast, smart hands services offer IT services beyond what is initially provided by colocation facilities. Smart Hands service covers complex tasks like receiving hardware shipments or performing hardware deployment at an added cost. Service vendors can also deploy technicians to the data center to repair equipment such as servers, components, power supply units or router port issues.
Pricing varies by vendor and product
Inevitably, large colocation data centers will charge a lot higher fees for Remote hands and Smart hands services than independent vendors. Independent Smart hands vendors often work in partnership with colocation DCs as they do work there regularly for customers.
Some of the global colo DC vendors that make remote hands available to their customers include Digital Realty Trust, CoreSite, Equinix, NTT Global, IONOS and 365 Data Centers.
The pricing of a remote hands service varies by colocation provider. Some colocation companies bill in 30-minute increments and some colo providers offer remote hands service fees included in the monthly colocation bill. Remote hands are also called Smart hands by some colocation providers, though others classify the two as different service levels.
Best thing is to check SLAs and rates with your chosen colo vendor and talk to an independent Smart Hands vendor too.
Why work with an independent Smart Hands service provider
Independent Smart Hands service providers will be more cost effective, yet the greatest advantage is that they can become an extension of your IT department for the long term.
Working with an independent vendor mitigates the complexity of your IT team having to work on many different platforms as each DC vendor has its own, also with different technicians and engineers per site.
Engaging with an independent Smart Hands vendor can make a real difference for your business and your IT team:
The same engineers will carry out the work on your network infrastructure in all data centres regardless of colo data centre provider and location.
The Smart Hands vendor’s engineers become acquainted with your platform, your infrastructure and your IT teams, thus they can get the work done much more efficiently and accurately.
Your IT team will work with the same Smart Hands experts regardless of data centre vendor and location, so this will allow them to focus on the task at hand and internal affairs rather than local specifics. The smart hands vendor will know how to handle them. This is very important as some DCs can be a logistical nightmare.
And last but not least the service is very cost effective, they are not on your payroll yet they practically become part of your organization.
Feel free to give us a call to discuss your Smart Hands needs. DACPROS are always at hand. Our hub of operation is London, we cover the UK also other countries on request.
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