She discovered thick smoke. Then there was a pop and an orange flash of light that cleared things up in a hurry: It was a fire. Winkler pulled the plug on her server, knowing the fire could damage more than just a piece of computer equipment.
"We were down and in desperate straits," said Winkler. "Everything we do here, from accounting to booking spa appointments, is on our network."
She picked up the phone and called Lan-Com Technologies, which had provided IT services for the spa for about five years. Lan-Com President Ramsey Dellinger arrived almost immediately and quickly determined that the disaster would require extensive hardware replacements.
Fortunately, thats just the kind of problem that Lan-Com likes best. The Hickory, N.C., company, which markets itself as a TSP (total solution provider), has extended the traditional definition of a managed services provider to offer customers hardware leasing, telephony products, IT services and software as a total package. Through managed services, providers take over some or all of the IT functions at client sites.
Lan-Coms TSP approach, according to both Dellinger and his customers, produces significant cost savings—and a reduction in technology headaches—for a single monthly fee. The fee equals predictable revenue for the provider.
Dellinger moved WestGlow from its monthly service agreement to a total support contract that gave the day spa new equipment immediately—and affordably.
"Fixing it was a huge job, and Lan-Com cut it into manageable payments for us with all the equipment financed," Winkler said, adding that the spa saved thousands of dollars through the new contract arrangement.
Breaking new ground
This type of comprehensive service plan appeals most to companies with 15 to 200 employees, said Dellinger. "Five years ago, when the ASP [application service provider] started to evolve and everyone said it was the future, we didnt disagree. But we wondered about the infrastructure players and service providers. Whenever theres a problem, theres a finger-pointing contest and the client ends up not trusting anyone."