Enterprise workloads are all about scale these days. Even without big data, the internet of things and increasing mobile traffic, IT infrastructure is being pushed to the limit just dealing with normal production environments and ecommerce.

This is why the cloud has emerged as a lifesaver for many organizations. By simply spinning up new resources on third-party infrastructure where and when they need it, organizations can more closely match their consumption with data requirements at any given moment.

But IT isn’t supported by resources alone. Every service created on the web has to be monitored and managed for availability, continuity and a host of other factors, or else the front office starts sending out nasty memos asking why performance is lagging. To combat this problem, many organizations are turning to managed service providers (MSPs) to oversee the support functions for their application workloads.

On a fundamental level, managed services are all about costs. Organizations can shave quite a bit off their IT budgets by consuming resources as needed, but they can save even more if they also outsource the operational side. As Joe Anslinger, director of infrastructure at US MSP Lieberman Technologies notes, managed services lower the bill for everything from basic IT and labor costs to backup/recovery and strategic planning. Leading MSPs provide everything from basic services such as 24/7 monitoring and remote diagnostics to more advanced functions like software updates and firewall management.

Whenever you transfer responsibility for an enterprise function in the hands of a third party, however, you place your data performance at the mercy of network infrastructure. Even as network services like load balancing and traffic management are themselves migrating to a managed services model, they still require bandwidth, connectivity and dynamic scalability in order to properly support increasingly complex workloads.

Many MSPs, in fact, have invested heavily in fiber optics to give themselves a competitive edge in today’s market. But while fiber certainly offers the speed and bandwidth suitable for both short- and long-haul footprints, simply pushing data as light pulses rather than electric waveforms is not enough. Tools like link monitoring and management are also needed to ensure that connectivity is maintained at an optimum level and resource consumption is minimized.

Link monitoring can vary greatly from vendor to vendor in the fiber optic community, with some organizations providing state-of-the-art predictive analysis and fault detection and others providing only rudimentary alerts and management functions. In today’s fast-moving digital universe, of course, the more proactive and adaptive the fiber network is, the better it will support managed service delivery to improve the value of the enterprise’s digital assets.

Link monitoring is also an effective way to assure dark fiber services, which are often used to fulfill high value service level agreements tied to wireless infrastructure. Through real-time data collection and analysis, providers can ensure that bandwidth will be available where and when it’s needed. As well, the use of passive demarcation can lower costs and maintain high performance levels even in extreme environmental conditions.

Managed services are only as effective as the provider who delivers them and the networks on which they are carried. By choosing wisely, the enterprise can place the entire application footprint, both infrastructure and operations, on a highly scalable model to align cost with revenues in a finely tuned manner. At the same time, organizations gain improved security, reliability, availability and other crucial elements of a modern service architecture without having to build it from the ground up.

This will ultimately allow organizations to spend less time managing their own services and more time delivering value to customers.