Managed Service Provider (MSP)

A picture of professionals working at a desk on their computers as this article is about managed service providers aka MSP or MSPs which assist client companies by managing a part of their IT infrastructure.

A managed services provider, or MSP, is a firm that follows a business model in which it manages one or multiple professional services for companies that are outsourcing a segment of their operations.

Historically, managed services have included accounting, auditing, and financial resource management; however, the era of information technology (IT) has extended the range of possible services tremendously to meet different small businesses and enterprise needs.

Expanding connectivity means firms with expertise in critical business areas like software engineering, data storage, and cloud infrastructure can offer their time and work via online services. Through remote monitoring and management (RMM) software, MSPs and managed security service providers (MSSPs) can offer their services to clients a continent away.

What Are Managed Service Providers?

Managed service providers are companies that specialize in and take responsibility for a segment of IT infrastructure for client businesses and organizations. Led and staffed by experienced IT professionals, service providers come in all shapes, sizes, and functions. MSPs offer support and services in place of in-house technicians for one or multiple clients.

Examples of MSP personnel include:

  • Client service managers
  • Customer support and help desk specialists
  • Cloud security and infrastructure specialists
  • IT specialists, technicians, and consultants
  • Software and application engineers
  • Solutions and data architects
  • System administrators

With an MSP, clients have a path to scaling their businesses through critical projects and operations. While MSP contracts can be steep, companies can quickly increase profitability by addressing core business needs rather than going through a long-term hiring and team development process to meet these operational needs internally.

Read more: How to Choose an IT Managed Service Provider | Channel Insider

How Do MSPs Work?

MSPs consist of IT specialists and business personnel working to acquire new clients and meet customer expectations. Because client companies sometimes place critical tasks in a third-party firm’s hands, MSPs often utilize a service-level agreement (SLA) to define the types of services, metrics monitored, and ramifications for breach of the SLA.

As the client company continues business as usual, MSPs are responsible for ongoing support and services, update reports, and meetings with the client to discuss work status. If MSPs and their clients are geographically distant, remote monitoring capabilities are essential to visibility into client infrastructure.

MSP vs Break-Fix

Break-fix services repair IT products for a one-time or subscription fee. These are reactive services relative to the long-term commitment of an MSP. As a part of the client’s overarching operations, MSPs play a proactive role in meeting client service expectations and offering insight into ongoing operations.

Break-fix companies, like the one located in your local strip mall, can resolve IT problems at a lower cost but rarely offer preemptive or ongoing support to avoid the problem in the first place. Whereas break-fix companies focus on B2C and sometimes B2B services, MSPs almost exclusively work with business management.

Also read: Common Mistakes Made When Choosing MSP Software | TechnologyAdvice

MSP vs MSSP

The growth of the MSP business has led to an offshoot devoted to cybersecurity needs, dubbed a managed security service provider (MSSP). While MSSPs are a type of MSP, their expertise relates to client security, like endpoint detection and response (EDR), naturally known as managed detection and response (MDR), and a host of infrastructure security solutions.

Examples of managed security services (MSS)

Read more: Top MSSP Tools and Cybersecurity Vendors | Channel Insider

Examples of MSPs: Security and Human Capital

MSSPs are a classic example of managed service providers where cybersecurity agencies utilize a security operation center (SOC) to track and act on threats 24/7/365. While large enterprises can afford their own SOC, a universe of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) outsource cybersecurity to an MSSP or its cloud-based sibling, SOCaaS.

Another popular example of MSPs are firms that specialize in various administrative tasks and human capital management (HCM). These operations include help desk operations, tech support, payroll, recruiting, talent acquisition, and human resources. As experts, MSPs understand the current demand for specific services and salaries and can convey that to clients when finding and hiring the right employees.

To build and strengthen client relationships, MSPs increasingly help clients by onboarding additional services and guiding companies through technology procurement.

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Sam Ingalls
Sam Ingalls
Sam Ingalls is an award-winning writer and researcher covering enterprise technology, cybersecurity, data centers, and IT trends, for eSecurity Planet, TechRepublic, ServerWatch, Webopedia, and Channel Insider.

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