What Is An MSP (Managed Service Provider)?

You may have heard the term ‘MSP’ and wondered what exactly it means. The abbreviation MSP stands for ‘managed service provider’. It refers to a concept in which businesses outsource certain services to specialist companies, most commontly IT support services. Managed IT services, or outsourced IT, is a third-party service that provides infrastructure, IT, and other technical support to organizations. Outsourcing has been around for a long time, as a means of reducing costs and streamlining in-house operations. Find out how MSPs have evolved over the decades, how these types of businesses operate, and the advantages of outsourcing IT support to an MSP. 

Evolution of MSPs

The evolution of MSPs dates back to the 1990s with the emergence of application service providers (ASPs), which offered a level of service for remote application hosting. ASPs helped pave the way for cloud computing and companies that would provide remote support for customers’ IT infrastructure. MSPs initially focused on the remote monitoring and management (RMM) of servers and networks. Over time, they have expanded the scope of their services as a way to differentiate themselves from other providers.

Today, managed service providers (MSP) deliver a broad range of computing services to businesses of all types and sizes. Some estimate that 90 percent of Fortune 1000 companies use MSPs to handle a portion or all of their IT infrastructure or services.

One way in which MSPs have evolved is in proactive vs. reactive support. In the early days of modern business computing, businesses would hire outside support providers, primarily to fix technology hardware or software as they broke or as issues arose. IT problems are incredibly disruptive to day-to-day operations and can bring a business to a grinding halt. To that end, preventing problems is just as important as being able to fix them quickly. Over time, business computing expanded, and MSPs shifted their focus to more proactive and preventive activities. Beyond just fixing what is broken, MSPs started looking for ways to avoid costly breaks and to proactively enhance the performance, reliability, and security of their clients’ IT estates. 

Types of MSPs

Now that we have covered the definition of MSPs, you may be wondering if all MSPs are the same, and how to pick the right MSP for your organization. MSPs come in four varieties:

Type #1: Managed Service Providers

Standard MSPs are responsible for managing a customer’s information technology (IT) including their infrastructure and people. To that end, MSPs deliver services that cover customers’ systems and network infrastructure, applications, and security needs. They specifically provide ongoing monitoring, maintenance, and help desk support.  

An MSP can provide both remote and on-site resources. They can also host infrastructure and assets in their data center, a third-party data center, or with a public cloud provider such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, or Amazon’s AWS. 

Type #2: Managed Security Service Providers

A managed security service provider (MSSP) is an IT service provider that focuses on delivering outsourced cybersecurity monitoring and management services to organizations. This functionality sets an MSSP apart from an MSP. Many MSSPs do this by offering 24/7 network monitoring services along with other continuous security functions such as vulnerability management (VM) and security configuration management (SCM).

Type #3: Co-Managed IT Service Providers

Another type of managed service provider is a co-managed IT service provider (Co-MIT). This MSP uses an arrangement that differs from the “pure” relationship between client management and a traditional MSP. Rather, Co-MITs blend client management, MSP offerings, and internal IT teams.

Type #4: Managed Detection & Response

The fourth type of MSPs is Managed Detection & Response (MDR). This type of MSP involves services that search for, identify, and alert on current or incoming threats. MDR providers commonly rely on 24/7 monitoring features that include artificial intelligence and machine learning as a means of monitoring for potential security incidents.

The main difference between MDR and MSSP is that MDR is proactive in nature, whereas the latter helps clients respond to security events and defend against vulnerabilities. 

Services Provided by MSPs

Today, MSPs offer a wide range of IT solutions and services, and the option to customize the scope of services based on the individual client’s needs and in-house resources. For instance, a business may have one in-house IT person who handles hardware, but hire an MSP to augment the availability and cover certain specialty areas, such as cybersecurity or data recovery. Services MSPs offer can vary widely, covering everything from cybersecurity, VoIP solutions, cloud computing, data protection, and more:

  • Anti-virus/anti-spam/anti-phishing/anti-malware services
  • Data backup services
  • IT estate/network monitoring services
  • New software configuration and provisioning services
  • New hardware configuration and implementation services
  • Network infrastructure configuration, implementation, and enhancement services
  • Cloud computing services (applications, services, resources, management)
  • Patch/repair/update management services
  • On-demand augmentation of in-house staff and/or expertise

Benefits of Working With an MSP

Outsourcing your IT management to an MSP has a number of operational advantages and financial benefits, such as:

  • Provides qualified staff on call around the clock, 24/7 help desk support
  • Clearly defines the work of IT support by definition in a binding contract
  • Can cover for on-premise disasters
  • Provides proactive support and monitoring 
  • Can include data backup management to prevent data loss
  • Is scalable, with the possibility of adding on extra resources during a busy season 
  • Minimizes the threat of an organization being held up by ransomware 
  • Addresses the IT labor shortage issue
  • Makes highly qualified staff available to clients, regardless of physical location
  • Allows the client to focus on their core competencies

An MSP can replace a company’s IT department entirely, or provide a single specialized service. The industry is evolving to provide expertise to any location, making cutting-edge technology expertise available at a fraction of what an in-house IT department may cost.

Getting Started With An MSP

If you decide to get started with an MSP, the first step is to outline your company’s goals and resources. Do you need full IT support, or only one or two of the services? Once your IT needs are clearly stated, you can start looking for an “MSP near me” or “best MSP in San Diego,” or perhaps asking your business network for a referral to a reputable and trusted MSP with a solid track record. Once you have narrowed down your list, here are some questions to ask your potential oustourced IT partner:

  • How many year of experience does your company have?
  • Who will be my primary point of contact?
  • Is 24/7 Support available to my employees?
  • What is your standard issue resolution time and how will I be able to track the status of my tickets?
  • What does your proactive monitoring look like?
  • Where are you located and are you available locally for on-site issues?
  • What is your experience with compliance, such as HIPAA or SOC?

Choose Excedeo as your MSP

With over 20 years of experience providing IT Support in San Diego and nearby areas, Excedeo is a trusted and established MSP in San Diego. Weprovide a full suite of managed IT solutions to keep your business running smoothly, from regular data backups and cybersecurity best practices to selecting and installing new software, ensuring that your business is in compliance with HIPAA, PCI, SOC, or ITAR. We are an MSP that powers your tech journey with a strategic IT roadmap to keep you moving toward your business goals. Contact us today to learn more or request a quote. 

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