What is an MSP?

Modern businesses depend heavily on technology. As such, the IT professional has become one of the most key players in the office, with their actions keeping every other piece of the operation moving.

Not all businesses have their own IT staff, however. There are other ways to fill the information technology needs of a business without creating an IT department in-house. One of the most popular is through outsourced IT providers, known as managed services providers or MSPs.

What is a Managed Services Provider (MSP)?

“MSP” is a common abbreviation in business services discussions. An MSP, or managed service provider, is an entity that provides specialized outsourced services to other businesses. For the most part — especially in the context of this website — MSP refers to a company that provides outsourced Information Technology (IT) and network support.

The idea of outsourcing such services is supported as a means for smaller-scale operations to obtain enterprise-level support and outsourcing is generally viewed as a cost-cutting measure.

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What are the Types of MSPs?

Contrary to popular belief, there are many types of MSPs, depending on the services provided. Let’s look at the most common ones.

  1. Data analytics. These services offer data management and analytics for increased business efficiency and performance.
  2. IT management. Typically, these services are meant to manage certain IT functionalities, such as the help desk or security.
  3. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). These MSPs offer a subscription-based plan for select or a series of services.
  4. Customer support. Typically offered in a remote setting, MSPs can provide remote customer support to address various technical issues.
  5. Billing support. These MSPs help you with your invoicing, payments, and budgeting.

It’s worth noting that all MSPs require a managed services agreement (MSA), a contract between you and them.

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Who Should Use an MSP?

What kind of business can benefit from a managed services contract? If your business can relate to these challenges, you might be a good candidate:

  • Your business is experiencing too many service outages and excessive downtime.
  • You’re not achieving expected results due to a lack of support and service.
  • You believe you’re overspending on IT because the smaller charges and hourly rates are adding up too fast.
  • You’re losing data, at risk for cyberattack, or throwing away productivity due to missing IT resources that could be provided through a subscription model.

Most business owners are trying to juggle their business’ operational needs, network performance, security requirements, all while keeping an eye focused squarely on costs. A key benefit of the Managed Services business model is that it offers a predictable cost, which can be especially beneficial to businesses who don’t want to manage surprise expenses month after month.

The Managed Services business model is often beneficial to businesses with in-house IT staff. Such staff may not be experienced with new technology or have the expertise to manage modern cybersecurity solutions, backup and recovery, or other necessities.

The managed services model is perfect for businesses that:

  • Do not have enough internal resources to handle maintenance, updates, and repairs.
  • Prefer a monthly fixed cost to ensure a high level of IT service and operational excellence.
  • Needs to minimize IT downtime to keep their business humming along.

The subscription pricing of the Managed Services model gives businesses much better cost control. A Managed Service Provider can eliminate certain expenses — IT department resources, training, equipment, and personnel — and make better overall use of the IT budget. When an organization’s IT is handled by a Managed Service Provider, they are only responsible for paying that predictable, fixed monthly charge.

Managed services are also superior at minimizing a business’ risks. MSPs have access to the latest infrastructure, software, compliance and security tools, and stay up to date with industry best practices. Because a Managed Service Provider is experienced in business continuity, they can deploy solutions to keep your data safe and your business operations disaster-proofed.

What Services Do MSPs Provide?

While every MSP is different in some ways, you can expect most managed service providers to offer these core solutions:

  • Cybersecurity at varying levels. This can range from the basics, like antivirus, all the way up to 24/7 monitoring and AI-driven threat detection.
  • Backup and recovery that allows businesses to restore their data in the event of a disaster or ransomware attack.
  • Productivity and collaboration software licenses for solutions like Office365.
  • Network management to keep your systems online and running smoothly.
  • Cloud computing solutions which can save businesses considerable money when compared to updating physical hardware.
  • Various audits and evaluations to better understand your IT situation before making large strategic decisions.
Benefits of MSP

What are the Benefits of MSPs?

  1. Predictable costs. MSPs make your IT costs more predictable, as you know what to spend each month or billing cycle. Compared to an in-house IT team, which may come with unexpected expenses, an MSP provides transparent pricing and the level of services that are provided. This is highly beneficial for startups that have a fixed IT budget.
  2. Scalability. MSPs are great for companies that intend to grow in the future. An MSP already has a defined and experienced team that can immediately optimize your IT processes. Instead of spending time and money training additional employees, an MSP absorbs these costs and provides you with trained IT staff from the get-go.
  3. Prevent vulnerabilities. MSPs are known for their proactive approach to vulnerability management. Deviating from the traditional break/fix model, most MSPs address vulnerabilities once detected, preventing them from becoming more significant. This results in better, more efficient services offered to clients and also contributes to considerable cost savings.
  4. Data compliance. In the ever-evolving IT landscape, it is essential that your team is compliant with different regulatory standards, including the GDPR and HIPAA. A managed service provider helps you meet all these requirements, alerting you of any tool or data point vulnerable to non-compliance.
  5. Focused goals. Arguably, one of the main benefits of using an MSP is more time dedicated to your core competencies. Rather than doing everything all at once, an MSP frees your IT team to focus on more strategic projects. This is a point worth considering if you are currently understaffed and overworked.
  6. Minimized downtime. An MSP can reduce the risk of downtime by offering various policies to harden endpoints, reduce their attack surface, and automatically deploy patch management. Managed services can also reduce the costs associated with downtime by preventing them from occurring in the first place.

Challenges of MSP

  1. Over-reliance on a third-party vendor.
    As with any relationship with a software vendor, there is always a risk of becoming too reliant on them to do everything for you. MSPs are meant to follow their MSAs strictly, but there is no guarantee that they will. This is why it’s so important to take your time and research different MSPs to find the one most suitable for your organization.
  2. Poor customer support.
    Some MSPs may not offer the best customer support, either replying too late or responding with a templated answer that does not address the issue at hand. When considering an MSP, it’s a good idea to check how fast their response time is and whether they offer personalized responses to every IT ticket.
  3. Limited security measures.
    Not all MSPs are focused on their cybersecurity protocols. Regardless of the reason for choosing an MSP, continually evaluate your prospects based on the strength of their security measures.
  4. Potential upselling.
    MSPs may try to upsell certain technologies or services you do not need under the guise of “better, more optimized” performance. One of the best ways to prevent this is to remain focused on your business goals and only use (and pay for) the services you really need.

How Does MSP Pricing Work?

Unlike a typical walk-up computer store, the MSP actively seeks out clients to provide them with proactive solutions (along with troubleshooting and network maintenance, of course).

This is very different from the old-style model of business IT which usually required a business to first encounter some kind of issue, then seek out an IT company to help them fix it. Remote monitoring and management (RMM) has changed the entire nature of the IT business. By allowing MSPs to service their clients from afar through automated remediation or a few simple keystrokes.

As such, MSPs charge monthly rates for the “stack” of solutions and services that your business requires. They often offer different levels of service to better accommodate businesses of varying sizes or with unique technology needs.

Conclusion

Managed service providers bring a new dynamic to the idea of supporting an organization’s technology. The meteoric rise of managed service providers worldwide is a good indicator of how valuable their services are in many cases.

While MSPs can help an organization cut costs while still reaching their objectives, outsourced IT may not be the right choice for everyone. That said, in cases where an MSP is a logical fit, businesses can typically enjoy worry-free IT support, additional strategic guidance, and lower overall costs.

Why MSPs Choose NinjaOne

NinjaOne is a powerful, easy-to-use remote monitoring and management platform that provides a single-pane-of-glass view into all the endpoints within an organization, and all the tools IT teams need to improve delivery. With NinjaOne, you gain access to: 

  • Month to month: no long-term contracts
  • Flexible per device pricing
  • Free and unlimited onboarding
  • Free and unlimited training

Our platform simplifies and automates the day-to-day work of managed service providers and IT professionals so they can focus on complex, value-added services, end-user relationships, and strategic projects. Start your free trial of NinjaOne today.

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