What is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)?

A managed service provider (MSP) is a company that remotely manages and completes day-to-day services for businesses relating to IT systems. MSPs improve business operations by monitoring an organization’s servers, routers, firewalls, and more. They are common among any business from large corporations to small businesses, non-profit organizations, and governments. MSPs control a customer’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems. Services include network, application, and security support.

When MSPs were first developed, the primary focus was remotely monitoring and managing servers and networks. These managed service providers were traditionally only associated with services dealing with infrastructure and specific devices, but have grown to include all ongoing management, maintenance, and support. The growth in the services offered by MSPs aids in differentiating MSPs from other providers.

What Is the Value of an IT Managed Service?

Small or medium-sized companies will often use MSPs because they have limited in-house IT capabilities. The IT expertise that MSPs provide can also be useful to larger companies that are looking for support and backup for their existing IT staff.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to utilizing a managed service provider. Businesses can choose the services they would like managed externally, by an MSP, and keep the other services in-house. Companies in recent years have realized the benefit of moving their day-to-day operations to a third party. Outsourcing to top managed service providers is one way to work smarter with technology, as it can help eliminate time-consuming, repetitive tasks, and decrease complexity in an employee’s day.

Nobody in the office wants to do the “boring”, repetitive tasks. So passing down some of these mundane technical tasks to an MSP is becoming an increasingly popular choice. The most popular areas of business outsourced to MSPs include information technology, payroll, workforce management, and human resources. MSPs are also a good way to save a bit of money on employees. Paying for an MSP’s services ends up being less than hiring individual employees for the in-house IT department and paying any costs associated with that IT infrastructure. In one study it was found that over time, working with MSPs can decrease a company’s maintenance costs by 40% (Gontovnikas).

Relationship with the Cloud

Many managed service providers incorporate the cloud into their service offerings, as it is becoming a valuable tool. Now, more than ever, businesses are susceptible to security threats and data loss. By having files and information backed up and stored in the cloud through MSPs, businesses can relax a bit. Managed cloud service providers are similar to any other MSPs, but with a few added skills. They deal with managing cloud security, network operations, monitoring, and reporting, as well as backup and recovery.

MSP Specialization

Some managed service providers focus on specific areas. One MSP can specialize in aspects of information technology, such as data storage, while another MSP specializes in anything from legal issues to financial services to healthcare. Cloud MSPs create a cloud network where all applications and servers are managed in the same place. This increased network availability due to a central data center allows for improved employee production and an easy option for storage and backups.

Typically, MSPs have a service-level agreement that lays out the specific service offerings. This arrangement is between the MSP and its customers, with a point of detailing the performance and quality that should be expected in the relationship.

How a Managed Service Provider Drives Positive Change

MSPs look at their customers individually. They review a business’s current processes, whether it be payroll, contract storage, or relationship management, and find opportunities to enhance this business. Often times this is done by maximizing savings and reducing spending. Through the review process, MSPs often identify liabilities and challenges within a business’s operations that could be improved. The MSP continues to provide support as new processes are implemented or systems are improved.

Businesses today operate in a highly competitive environment. To stay ahead of competitors, companies need to operate smoothly and efficiently. Utilizing MSPs allows for this to happen. Outsourcing managed services allow for more time to focus on the business goals and values. Employees can work on the company’s direction, growth, and strategy, rather than constantly being preoccupied with administrative work. Passing off the work of time-consuming daily activities helps to shift everyone’s focus to completing tasks that will increase profitability and encourage growth. Utilizing MSPs is one of many ways to implement management tools and software.