Managed service providers (MSPs) offer remote management of a customer’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems. Small and medium-sized businesses, enterprises, nonprofit organizations, and even governmental organizations employ them to manage particular IT services daily. MSPs may focus on particular IT domains like data storage or provide services to specific businesses such as financial services. Those specializing in security-related services can also provide remote firewall administration, data backup and recovery, cloud computing solutions, software updates and maintenance, help desk support, and cybersecurity and threat management.
Despite the advantages of having the MSP, you must understand the services you’ll provide and what your MSP does in practice. While MSPs frequently portray their offerings as a “one-size-fits-all” solution, every firm has different IT requirements. To ensure you’re giving the best solution for their company, carefully assess their unique needs and keep the lines of communication open to ensure that both parties are on the same page. It’s inevitable that with this wide range of complex services will come a scope for misinterpretation, especially for new businesses who plan to dive into the field.
What Is Not an MSP?
An expert that offers complete and continuous IT management and maintenance services to clients is known as an MSP. However, people frequently mistake MSPs for IT consultants or independent contractors offering ad-hoc assistance and solutions. Even though these people might supply IT services, they don’t qualify as MSPs because they don’t offer their customers complete and ongoing IT administration and maintenance services.
Although IT consultants and independent contractors may offer valuable one-time IT support for particular issues or projects, they can’t match an MSP’s degree of continuous management and maintenance services. MSPs monitor and manage clients’ entire IT infrastructure, ensuring everything functions well and issues are fixed before causing prolonged downtime. This covers, among other things, network monitoring, security management, data backup and recovery, software updates, and patch management.
If you’re planning to establish or grow an MSP, below are a few types of service providers and what they offer so that you can avoid accidentally creating a business like these rather than the MSP you want.
Break-Fix IT Service Providers
These companies don’t provide maintenance services on a regular basis. Instead, they only offer repairs when an issue occurs. They are called in to solve specific problems but don’t offer continuing management or preventive maintenance services. This kind of service is frequently more reactive than proactive, and it might not be enough for businesses that want a greater level of assistance and support.
A small firm that depends on its computers and network to run its operations is an example of how break-fix services and MSPs differ from one another. Small businesses may frequently encounter downtime due to software or hardware difficulties if they don’t have ongoing IT management and maintenance services.
A break-fix IT service provider would address only specific issues, which could lead to extended downtime and lost productivity. If a business works with an MSP, the MSP would constantly monitor and maintain the business’s IT infrastructure, proactively fixing any potential issues before they result in extended downtime. For the business, this means less downtime and higher output.
IT Project Consultants
IT project consultants are experts at putting particular IT projects, like software implementation or network upgrades, into action for clients. They’re often contracted for a specific project with a clear end objective and don’t provide continuous IT management services. For businesses looking for continuing IT support and management services, they might not be the ideal option.
A small business might engage an IT consultant to assist with upgrading its computer systems, but they wouldn’t offer continuing management and maintenance services. On the other hand, an MSP would constantly monitor and maintain the small business’s computer system, proactively fixing any potential issues before they result in cyber threats.
Cloud Service Providers
Although they may not always offer continuous IT administration and maintenance services, some service providers provide cloud computing solutions. They might provide the infrastructure, not the management and upkeep services needed for the cloud environment.
A cloud service provider typically gives users access to cloud computing resources like software, storage, and virtual machines. They provide their services online, and clients only pay for what they really use. Unlike MSPs, who can help manage day-to-day activities to prevent cloud interference, cloud service providers simply provide tools and means to manage their cloud services.
MSPs can also help accelerate cloud migration programs, with 36% of the companies spending more in 2022 than in 2020 to have a smooth transition to the cloud.
Security Service Providers
Security service providers specialize in delivering security solutions like firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and encryption technologies. They might not provide complete IT administration services, such as patch management and routine program updates. Instead, they specialize specifically in providing one-time security services.
A security service provider could provide businesses with security solutions like firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention systems to safeguard IT infrastructure and data. Without continuous IT management and maintenance services, the business could still see regular downtime because of software or hardware difficulties. But the same is not the case in the context of MSPs.
The MSP would not only offer security solutions but would also constantly monitor and maintain the IT infrastructure of the small firm, proactively correcting any possible concerns before they result in sizable downtime or threat.
Network Solutions Providers
Designers and maintainers of network solutions, such as local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs), are known as network solutions providers. They might not provide continuous IT management and upkeep services, including network infrastructure monitoring, management, and support. This kind of service might be adequate if a company has internal IT support personnel.
To ensure that the business has a well-designed and functional network, a network solution provider may offer network design, installation, and configuration services. Without continuous IT management and maintenance services, the company would still face issues like regular downtime because of software or hardware difficulties.
MSPs not only offer network services but also constantly monitor and prevent network disturbances while also simultaneously helping the company with improvised solutions.
Bottom Line: What Is Not an MSP
MSPs provide a broad spectrum of IT administration and maintenance services, including security, network, and cloud solutions. These services are intended to keep a client’s IT infrastructure operating efficiently and enhance overall IT performance. Additionally, MSPs offer continuous monitoring and management services, ensuring that any potential problems are dealt with early on before they result in significant downtime.
If you’re launching or modifying your MSP offering, be aware of services like IT consultants, break-fix services, cloud service providers, security service providers, and network solutions providers that are frequently confused for MSPs. Although these services might offer a certain amount of IT help, they don’t provide the comprehensive and continuous IT management and maintenance services that MSPs do.