Organizations turn to outsourced remote infrastructure management services for efficiency, flexibility, and scalability when it comes to executing their information technology strategy. Managed security services providers leverage their technical expertise to deliver reliable remote IT infrastructure management.
Remote Infrastructure Management Services—An Overview
The full scope of remote infrastructure management services can sometimes be difficult to understand merely due to the sheer range of functions and assets involved. However, if a physical or digital asset is directly required for enabling technical operations and the activities of data creation, processing, interaction, and storage, then it can be considered a component of IT infrastructure.
A comprehensive overview requires definitions or examples of:
- Remote infrastructure management services
- The current IT challenges that organizations face
- The broad benefits organizations may reap from outsourcing or adopting remote services
Remote Infrastructure Management Services
As the name suggests, remote infrastructure management services (RIMS) are geographically removed from the overseen assets and generally provided by MSSPs or by internal personnel (e.g., a security operations center (SOC) team). Organizations often outsource these responsibilities to MSSPs to recover IT employee bandwidth, reduce costs, and ensure management expertise.
However, understanding the breadth and flexible nature of what RIMS can provide to organizations requires a thorough understanding of remote IT infrastructure management.
What is Remote Infrastructure Management (RIM)?
RIMS are best understood by breaking down the concepts, systems, and physical items involved with remote infrastructure management—first defining IT infrastructure. IT infrastructure refers to an organization’s collective physical and digital information technology assets—the hardware, software, networks, file systems, aggregate data, and so on.
The oversight of those assets’ lifecycles (i.e., spanning implementation, maintenance, updates, and disposal) comprises IT infrastructure management. Functional management requires people, processes, and technologies. To reiterate, remote IT infrastructure management geographically separates the oversight responsibilities from the physical and digital assets.
Nearly all IT infrastructure management actions can be conducted remotely, the exception being those that require an on-site presence (e.g., hardware replacement).
Remote Infrastructure Management Services Examples
RIMS can be categorized by the various management sub-activities and responsibilities organizations may choose to outsource to MSSPs, including:
- Security operations center (SOC)
- Service and helpdesks, including:
- End user technical challenges and support
- General Fixes
- Identity and access management and user provisioning
- Architecture and implementation
- Server management
- Workstation management
- Database management
- Strategic planning
An organization outsources all or some of its infrastructure management, depending on needs, existing personnel, and costs. The flexible nature of remote infrastructure management services allows for an “a la carte” model, allowing an organization to outsource various IT responsibilities at its discretion.
Current IT Infrastructure Management Challenges
IT and security teams prepare for and respond to new challenges throughout their daily responsibilities, from new implementations to emerging threats. However, managing these teams confronts organizations with different challenges with which to contend.
Managing a security operations center (i.e., the people, processes, and technologies that oversee cybersecurity strategy and execution) comes with consistent difficulties regardless of industry or business activity. Therefore, a SOC team also provides a microcosm for analyzing current IT challenges and an overview of some reasons an organization may choose to outsource responsibilities to an MSSP offering remote infrastructure management services.
Security Operations Centers—An Example of IT Management Challenges
SOC personnel widely suffer from burnout, and organizations must navigate high turnover rates amidst a general skills shortage. These personnel difficulties compound all other SOC challenges.
Upper SOC tier roles (e.g., team managers, tier-three threat hunters) especially suffer from a small talent pool for prospective hires, which grows smaller if employment is conditional on already possessing specific industry or other experience. Lower tier roles (e.g., analysts) suffer from a monotonous yet demanding job of sifting through vulnerability scans.
As a result, SOC personnel average an employment duration of only 26 months, according to Ponemon’s 2021 survey on SOCs. Survey-responding organizations expect to hire a minimum of four SOC team members while witnessing three depart by resignation or termination. While additional financial resources may solve SOC problems, organizations report that perceived return on investment has diminished and are thus unlikely to expand budgets.
Consider that SOC teams provide merely one subfield of IT department responsibilities.
The Benefits of Remote Infrastructure Management Services
Generally, the benefits of remote infrastructure management services comprise:
- Cost reductions
- Inclusions of expertise in decision-making and execution
Depending on where and how organizations need or seek to improve, outsourcing remote IT infrastructure management can deliver myriad benefits. The collection of services that MSSPs provide to organizations may be as varied as the overseen technical environments themselves.
Efficiencies and Recovering IT Employee Bandwidth
Many IT and security professionals must execute various departmental roles, some requiring excessive amounts of attention and time. As a result, IT professionals are often spread thin and left to juggle competing tasks and responsibilities of different priorities. Alleviating workloads via RIMS allows organizations to reprioritize their existing IT personnel with more critical, productive, and backlogged assignments.
Suppose an organization employs a small IT team responsible for overseeing identity and user account, network, security, and implemented systems management along with helpdesk support. User account provisioning tasks alone, if executed manually, can consume hours of personnel’s time merely with menial data entry. In addition, helpdesk tickets likely arrive with random frequencies, interrupting the completion of intended and in-progress assignments.
Hiring additional personnel doesn’t always solve the challenge of an overburdened IT and security team. Finding a prospective hire that would provide the right organizational fit and the necessary knowledge and experience may be difficult for many companies. Some companies may not have or wish to dedicate a portion of their budget for another full-time employee.
RIMS offered by a reliable and expert MSSP present a solution when organizations need to recover IT bandwidth.
Achieving efficiencies generally helps reduce an organization’s costs. However, remote infrastructure management services provide numerous avenues for accomplishing cost reductions. For example, companies that outsource responsibilities and task execution via RIMS stand to reduce various operational costs—notably, office space and additional full-time employee compensation.
Suppose an organization does not employ someone with the knowledge and experience to conduct threat hunting. Instead of dedicating administrative and financial resources to hiring a full-time employee, this cybersecurity service may be contracted out to an MSSP, with the hunter’s found vulnerabilities and threats informing internal security teams’ efforts.
Similarly, if an organization needs to contract with a virtual CISO on a periodic, interim, or fractal basis (e.g., they do not require the role full-time, following departures, during extended leave), they can.
Expertise—Advisory and Additional Knowledge and Skill Sets
All IT personnel do not fulfill identical roles, much like how all chefs can cook but do not serve the same cuisine. IT and security team members will provide knowledge and expertise covering certain aspects of infrastructure management. However, they may not have acquired the same expertise in related subfields and specialties.
You wouldn’t expect an Italian chef to prepare sushi. Likewise, you shouldn’t necessarily expect someone experienced in managing data centers to suddenly handle enterprise resource planning or comb through vulnerability scans with the same proficiency (especially when tacked onto their existing duties).
Further, some IT and cybersecurity responsibilities require specialized industry knowledge.
Particularly for regulatory compliance, organizations sometimes require advisory on adherence to frameworks such as HIPAA, HITRUST, PCI DSS, or the CMMC. In addition, they may need to construct dedicated security policies, documentation, and procedures. Incident response and recovery following data breaches is another specialty with which not all IT personnel have experience.
Scalability of Remote Infrastructure Management
Ideally, organizations grow. Growth provides new opportunities but requires additional management and execution at new scales, which organizations’ existing IT and security teams may not be able to accommodate fully.
If your organization grows and places additional demands on management and service delivery, MSSPs’ remote infrastructure services can help meet the new demands. RIMS ensure teams’ capabilities scale as needed—especially if IT and cybersecurity staff are already overburdened.
Remote Infrastructure Management Services to Consider Outsourcing
As already mentioned, the sheer range of functions and assets involved with remote infrastructure services allows nearly any responsibility or task execution to be outsourced to MSSPs. Therefore, RIMS can span daily responsibilities and broad cybersecurity initiatives.
Three different services that demonstrate the flexibility of MSSPs offerings are architecture and implementation, ongoing vulnerability assessments, and data storage protection.
Additionally, RIMS can include security information and event management (SIEM), managed detection and response, virtual CISOs, endpoint security management, incident management, strategic planning, employee training, compliance advisory, and more.
Architecture and Implementation
An organization’s IT infrastructure must first be designed and implemented before it can be managed. It will depend on business activities, industry, and the systems and services it must provide to employees for them to execute their roles. Further complicating architecture implementation is whether the organization operates on-premise network, cloud, or hybrid environments.
Simplified management requires a properly constructed architecture with minimized cybersecurity vulnerabilities, beginning with planning and implementation stages. Companies must ensure that infrastructure will meet their technical and compliance specifications. Enlisting the help of an expert MSSP will ensure all angles are covered and new systems, solutions, and services are correctly configured following their implementation.
Many organizations have begun or plan to initiate cloud migrations for the workforce and cost reduction benefits these services offer. However, cloud migrations are massive undertakings that fundamentally change IT infrastructure management and service delivery. Initiating a cloud migration with sporadic, ad hoc efforts will only result in an architecture that’s impossible to manage.
In contrast, expert guidance can help organizations execute a step-by-step cloud migration plan designed to balance timelines, efficiently operate across hybrid environments, and account for any limitations.
Vulnerability Assessment and Patch Management
Once an organizations’ architecture has been implemented, it must be monitored for vulnerabilities to existing and emerging threats. Assessment and mitigation revolve around continuous scanning, identifying risks, and patch management.
A comprehensive vulnerability assessment should begin with compiling an asset inventory and assigning risk ratings according to value and threat likelihood. Following inventorying assets, organizations develop procedures, enhance cybersecurity, and deploy patches to mitigate vulnerabilities. Finally, continual scanning assesses the vulnerability management’s effectiveness and identifies new patches to deploy and efforts to minimize attack surfaces.
One of the best services organizations can outsource to MSSPs for identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities is penetration testing. Penetration testing simulates a cyberattack on an organization’s IT environment or specific components to determine intruders’ various methods for accessing their targets. Penetration testing also serves as a breach “fire drill” for internal security team members to help them prepare for real incident response.
Disk Encryption and File Integrity Monitoring (FIM)
For more granular oversight, MSSPs can provide disk encryption and file integrity monitoring (FIM). These cybersecurity efforts can be outsourced as one aspect of remote infrastructure management services.
Disk encryption ensures that workstations and portable physical devices (e.g., laptops) remain protected following loss or theft, making it a critical compliance measure for frameworks such as HIPAA and PCI DSS. However, once active, organizations must manage the cryptographic keys that enable encryption and decryption. Encryption key management requires dedicated processes and procedures that MSSPs can help define or facilitate.
FIM ensures that files are monitored through any changes to contents or metadata. FIM notifies MSSPs or security teams should critical or sensitive files be altered, allowing them to analyze whether the changes were executed by an authorized user or indicate a breach.
Leveraging Remote Infrastructure Services
Every organization that utilizes IT resources conducts infrastructure management to ensure optimal service delivery and cybersecurity. Outsourcing these responsibilities via remote infrastructure management services allows organizations to reap benefits encompassing efficiency, flexibility, cost reduction, and scalability.
As an expert MSSP, RSI Security can conduct or advise on all aspects of infrastructure management. With over a decade of experience, RSI Security specializes foremost in cybersecurity and compliance efforts.
To learn more about the IT bandwidth your organization can reclaim and the new opportunities it can pursue, contact RSI Security today.