A managed service provider (MSP) is a business-to-business (B2B) company that manages IT-related systems and infrastructure for other companies.
“To innovate rapidly and run IT services across diverse hybrid multicloud environments with consistency and visibility, many organizations are turning to managed services providers.” — “Top 10 criteria for selecting a managed services provider” (IBM report)
A good MSP should help your business lower costs and increase efficiency across its systems and operations. Here are some of the areas an MSP can be of service:
- Network infrastructure
- Cloud computing
- Data backup and recovery
- Database management
- IT strategy and planning
- Software development and support
- Help desk and end-user support
- Mobile device management
- Virtualization and server management
Interested in learning more? Reach out to see how Symplicity can simplify your business operations.
What are Managed Services?
The term “managed services” refers to IT-related services that many enterprises outsource to third-party providers, known as managed service providers.
Here are some of the types of services that companies outsource to MSPs:
- Network infrastructure: management and optimization of a company’s network infrastructure, including wired and wireless networks, routers, switches, and firewalls.
- Cloud computing: management of cloud infrastructure, including public, private, and hybrid cloud environments.
- Cybersecurity: protection of a company’s data and IT infrastructure against cyber threats through threat monitoring, vulnerability management, and incident response.
- Data backup and recovery: continuous backup and recovery of critical business data to ensure business continuity in the event of data loss or disaster.
- Database management: management of a company’s databases, including design, deployment, optimization, and maintenance.
- IT strategy and planning: development of IT strategies that align IT with business objectives and maximize ROI.
- Software development and support: custom software development and support services to meet specific business needs.
- Help desk and end-user support: support services for end users to ensure optimal use of IT resources.
- Mobile device management: management and security of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.
- Virtualization and server management: management of virtualized environments, including servers, storage, and networking.
- VoIP and unified communications: management of VoIP phone systems and unified communication tools.
- Collaboration tools: management of collaboration tools such as video conferencing, messaging, and file sharing.
- Internet of Things (IoT) management: management of IoT devices and platforms, including device management, security, and data analytics.
- Compliance management: management of compliance requirements, including regulatory and industry-specific compliance.
- Disaster recovery and business continuity: planning and management of disaster recovery and business continuity strategies to minimize the impact of business interruptions.
We act as your agent to assess your needs and connect you with the right MSP to fill them. Even better: most of the time, you’ll save money by working with us. Talk to us to find out how.
What Does a Managed Service Provider Do?
The right MSP can make all the difference for your business. A good MSP should be dedicated to doing what’s right for your bottom line, as well as highly competent in their areas of specialization. We cover what to look for in an MSP below.
An MSP essentially takes the day-to-day management of key business functions and handles it on your behalf. Doing so can free up your people to focus on what they do best so that your business can thrive.
Managed Service Provider Examples
Here are some managed service provider examples to help you understand the range of what MSPs can provide. These represent amalgamations of different customers we’ve helped; names and other details have been altered.
MSP Example 1
Customer: a small e-commerce business
Service needed: cybersecurity management
Description: we referred the customer to a US-based cybersecurity firm with deep expertise in ecommerce security. The MSP helped protect the business from cyber threats and data breaches by providing 24/7 monitoring and threat detection, risk assessments, vulnerability scans, and incident response.
MSP Example 2
Customer: a growing technology company
Service needed: Colocation services
Description: after reviewing the customer’s requirements, we referred them to a data management provider. This MSP provided the technology company with colocation services, allowing them to securely store and maintain their servers in a state-of-the-art data center. The company was able to scale their IT infrastructure without incurring the capital expense of building and managing their own data center.
MSP Example 3
Customer: a large healthcare organization
Service needed: IT infrastructure management
Description: we connected the customer with a managed IT provider with deep knowledge of the healthcare industry. The MSP helped the healthcare organization improve their IT infrastructure, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.
MSP Example 4
Customer: a financial services firm
Service needed: disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)
Description: after assessing the customer’s needs, we connected them with a DRaaS and data protection company that worked with the firm to design and implement a disaster recovery plan, and provided ongoing backup and recovery services. The firm had peace of mind knowing that there were measures in place to ensure business continuity and minimize downtime in the case of a disaster.
MSP for Security
Managed service providers offer a range of services that help businesses protect their networks, systems, and data from cyber threats. These services can include:
- Managed firewalls: MSPs can provide and manage firewalls that protect a business’s network from unauthorized access.
- Endpoint protection: MSPs can install and manage antivirus and anti-malware software on employee devices to prevent cyber attacks.
- Vulnerability scanning and patch management: MSPs can scan a business’s network for vulnerabilities and apply security patches to prevent exploitation.
- Security information and event management (SIEM): MSPs can monitor a business’s network for security events and alerts, and provide real-time analysis and response.
- Incident response: MSPs can help businesses respond to security incidents and breaches, including investigation, containment, and remediation.
- Patch management: MSPs can manage and update a business’s software and applications to ensure they are up to date and secure.
- Anti-virus and security management: MSPs can manage a business’s anti-virus and security solutions, ensuring protection against cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
By outsourcing security to an MSP, businesses can benefit from cost savings compared to hiring a dedicated security team, as well as the increased expertise of a specialist. MSPs can also provide 24/7 monitoring and support, which is critical for businesses that need to maintain availability and uptime.
In today’s landscape, where cyber threats are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated, partnering with an MSP for security can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and protect against potential threats.
MSP for Infrastructure
Managed service providers offer a range of services that help businesses manage their IT infrastructure. These services can include:
- Server and storage management: MSPs can manage and maintain a business’s servers and storage devices, ensuring optimal performance and uptime.
- Network management: MSPs can manage a business’s network infrastructure, including routers, switches, and firewalls, to ensure reliability and security.
- Virtualization: MSPs can help businesses migrate to virtualized environments, such as cloud computing, and manage those environments to ensure optimal performance and cost-effectiveness.
- Backup and disaster recovery: MSPs can provide backup and disaster recovery solutions to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster or data loss.
- IT consulting: MSPs can provide guidance and advice on technology strategy and planning, helping businesses make informed decisions about their IT infrastructure.
Businesses can benefit from an MSP’s specialized expertise and technology, as well as cost savings compared to maintaining an in-house IT team. MSPs can also provide scalability, flexibility, and 24/7 monitoring and support, which is critical for businesses that need to maintain availability and uptime.
In today’s rapidly evolving technology landscape, where businesses need to stay agile and competitive, partnering with an MSP for infrastructure can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and meet their technology needs.
MSP for Support
Many MSPs offer support services across IT and customer experience functions, including the following:
- System monitoring and maintenance: MSPs can monitor and maintain a business’s IT systems, ensuring optimal performance and uptime.
- Help desk support: MSPs can provide help desk support to businesses, assisting with technical issues that customers may experience.
- Chat and email support: MSPs can offer chat and email support to businesses, responding to customer inquiries and providing assistance.
- Social media monitoring: MSPs can monitor social media channels for customer inquiries, complaints, and feedback, and respond appropriately to maintain customer satisfaction.
- Knowledge management: MSPs can create and manage a knowledge base of frequently asked questions and resources, making it easier for customers to find answers to their questions.
- Feedback management: MSPs can collect and analyze customer feedback to identify areas for improvement and enhance the customer experience.
- On-site support: MSPs can provide on-site support to businesses, offering technical assistance and troubleshooting for hardware and software issues.
With the help of a support MSP, businesses can benefit from specialized expertise and technology, as well as cost savings compared to maintaining in-house customer experience and IT support teams. Overall, partnering with an MSP for support can help businesses improve their performance, reduce downtime, and increase productivity.
How to Choose an MSP
Many organizations are turning to managed service providers, but how do you select the right one? IBM’s “Top 10 Criteria for Selecting a Managed Services Provider” offers valuable insights on what to consider. We mostly agree, but have our own criteria to add, which we’ll share at the end of this section.
Here are the IBM criteria:
- Deep skills and experience
- Proactive, technology-based approach
- Scaling DevOps for cloud-enabled IT transformation
- Consistent processes, knowledge management, and consolidated service visibility
- Support for multivendor, multicloud environments, and strong relationship
- Consistent global service delivery, with options for local resources
- Create a strong foundation for your hybrid cloud environment
- Broad portfolio of managed services aligned to your business model
- Technology foresight and a path to innovation
- Financial stability and reputation
Here are the ones we’d add to the IBM list:
- Passion for your success
- Dogged determination to do what’s right for your business
- Relatable and approachable
Let’s look at each in more detail.
Deep Skills And Experience
A good managed service provider should have certified skills beyond basic operating system maintenance and availability management.
They should have experience in managing change, virtualization, high availability, middleware and databases, multiple network technologies, cross-platform integration, mobility, security, and cloud technologies.
Additionally, they should have the scalability and availability of staff with specialized skill sets, organized specialists that share knowledge, and communicate best practices.
Proactive, Technology-Based Approach
A proactive managed services provider emphasizes problem prevention and continuous improvement rather than the traditional “break/fix” mentality. They should go beyond simple monitoring and device management and employ sophisticated technologies like advanced analytics that can drive incident prevention.
Look for technologies that provide sophisticated alert mechanisms, automated workload categorization and prioritization, automated incident escalation, and automated incident remediation.
Scaling Devops For Cloud-Enabled It Transformation
DevOps methods, including continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD), are crucial to cloud-enabled IT transformation. A good managed service provider should implement agile DevOps methods to improve business processes and increase the pace of application development and business innovation.
Consistent Processes, Knowledge Management, And Consolidated Service Visibility
“The right services partner will help your company minimize risk and cost while leveraging new and existing investments to innovate” —IBM
A good provider can simplify the implementation and management of modern infrastructure for rapid scaling, and effectively manage your application landscape. It’s also important that they provide you with visibility into the health of your infrastructure and the performance of your managed services, so you can identify and fix any problems quickly.
They should offer a security-rich web-based portal that consolidates related services into a single dashboard, providing access to real-time service visibility. The portal should be capable of managing IT services across diverse hybrid multicloud environments with consistency and visibility.
Support For Multivendor, Multicloud Environments, And Strong Relationship
Today’s IT infrastructures are typically heterogeneous, hybrid environments of traditional IT, and public and private clouds from various vendors. A good managed services provider should have experience in working with multivendor, multicloud hybrid environments and relationships with leading vendors to help ensure availability today and visibility into product evolution paths and emerging technologies.
Consistent Global Service Delivery, With Options For Local Resources
Choosing a managed services provider with global capabilities can position companies of all sizes for growth and expansion. Global delivery capabilities offer many advantages, including rapid implementation in new locations, effective management of customer projects that span operations in multiple countries, local-language support for branches or subsidiaries, and in-country location of resources and data to help address regulatory and legal requirements.
Create A Strong Foundation For Your Hybrid Cloud Environment
Many companies run workloads that simply can’t move to a public cloud, or don’t fit into the public cloud model. A managed services provider can provide a dedicated, private, managed cloud infrastructure that helps deliver a consistent, scalable, OpEx-based, as-a-service capability.
Broad Portfolio Of Managed Services Aligned To Your Business Model
To preserve future flexibility, require that any prospective provider offer a thorough suite of managed services, including infrastructure and enterprise application management; managed security, resilience, and mobility; and managed hosting and cloud. Also, look for a provider that offers flexibility in doing business with you, such as giving you the option to retain your current equipment and, where it makes sense, your current processes.
Technology Foresight And A Path To Innovation
If innovation and transformation are critical components of your business strategy, it’s important to consider the impact that sourcing relationships can have on a company’s core business model and corporate culture. A prospective managed services provider should have proprietary insights or experiences that can shed light on future technological or market shifts. They should have expertise, assets, reach, and partner networks that can help you develop new business.
Passion for Your Success
A good MSP should be fired up to make sure your business succeeds. They will take the time to understand your business goals and align their services accordingly, continuously looking for ways to optimize your IT infrastructure. They will proactively come to you with recommendations for how you can save time, money, or both.
In contrast, an MSP that lacks passion may only focus on delivering the minimum service level agreement required, rather than going out of their way to make you succeed. This can result in missed opportunities for improvement.
Dogged Determination To Do What’s Right For Your Business
MSPs should prioritize their client’s success over their own interests, even if it means going the extra mile or making difficult decisions. They will not hesitate to challenge their client’s decisions if they believe that it may harm their business, but they will also respect their client’s autonomy and work collaboratively to find the best solution.
MSPs that lack this mindset may be less likely to challenge their client’s decisions or offer honest feedback, even if it may ultimately harm their business.
Relatable and Approachable
MSPs should be easy to communicate with. They should be transparent in their communications and be willing to work with their clients to find solutions that align with their business goals.
MSPs that are not approachable or relatable may be challenging to work with and may not take the time to understand their client’s unique needs. This can lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings, ultimately resulting in suboptimal service delivery.
The Symplicity Way
At Symplicity Communications, we work as an extension of your team with the singular goal of solving your pain points—even the ones you didn’t know you had. We’re a supplier-neutral solutions provider with deep expertise in telecommunications, customer experience, IT, and business systems.
- With our best-in-class technology expense management services, you can be sure we’ll be digging deep into your invoices and unearthing opportunities to save money and reduce complexity.
- If you need managed IT help, we’ll connect you with the provider that best matches your needs.
- We can evaluate your telecom stack and advise on updating, rotating, or simplifying. From SIP trunking to mobile device management, we know how to make your network the most efficient it can be.
- If we think that certain business automations are in your best interest, we won’t hesitate to tell you. We’ll provide data to back up our recommendations, and we’ll connect you with the best automation providers in the business.
- Whether you need cybersecurity help, colocation services, call center solutions, or SD-WAN assistance, we’ll ensure you get the very best solution at the best price.
When you work with us, you have a partner committed to doing what’s best for your business, with deep expertise, connections, and resources. Contact us today to discuss what’s going on in your business.
MSP Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between cloud and managed services?
Cloud services and managed services are two distinct approaches to IT system and infrastructure management.
Cloud services are often offered through the internet and hosted on the servers of the cloud provider. They provide services such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS). Cloud computing services enable enterprises to gain access to scalable computer capabilities without the requirement for actual hardware or infrastructure. As a result, businesses can swiftly provision and deprovision resources as needed, without having to worry about hardware maintenance, upgrades, and updates.
Managed services, on the other hand, are often provided by a third-party supplier who manages and maintains a company’s IT infrastructure. This can entail overseeing the management of hardware, software, and network components, as well as providing ongoing support and maintenance. Managed services can be supplied on-premises or in the cloud.
The primary distinction between cloud and managed services is that cloud services supply the infrastructure and platform, whereas managed services manage and maintain the IT infrastructure. On the other hand, cloud services are more concerned with offering scalable computing resources, whereas managed services are concerned with providing continuing management and support for IT systems.
Another significant distinction is that cloud services are often charged on a usage-based approach, whereas managed services are typically charged on a fixed monthly cost or hourly rate. Furthermore, cloud services may provide better flexibility and agility, whereas managed services may provide greater control and personalization.
Is managed service the same thing as serverless?
No, managed services and serverless are not synonymous. Managed services are outsourced IT services in which a third-party provider manages and maintains a company’s IT infrastructure and applications. Cloud computing, data storage, network monitoring, and security are examples of such services.
Serverless, on the other hand, is a model for developing and running applications that does not require the use of dedicated servers. In serverless computing, the cloud provider manages the allocation of computing resources dynamically and charges the user only for the time spent using the service.
While both managed services and serverless computing can be used to increase IT efficiency and lower costs, they are distinct ideas with distinct objectives and benefits.
What are the three types of cloud platform services?
The three types of cloud platform services are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides users with virtualized computing resources, such as servers, storage, and networking, through a cloud provider. This allows users to quickly provision and scale resources as needed without having to invest in physical infrastructure.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) provides a complete platform for developing, running, and managing applications in the cloud. This includes tools and frameworks for building, testing, and deploying applications, as well as runtime environments for executing code.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) provides users with access to software applications hosted by a cloud provider. This allows users to access the software from anywhere with an internet connection without having to install and manage the software on their own computers. Examples of SaaS include email, customer relationship management (CRM), and project management tools.
Is AWS a managed service provider?
AWS is not typically considered a managed service provider in the traditional sense. While they do offer a wide range of cloud-based services, including infrastructure and application management, they are primarily known as a cloud computing provider.
Is Microsoft 365 a managed service provider?
Microsoft 365 is not considered a traditional MSP. Instead, it offers a suite of cloud-based services that includes email, productivity tools, and collaboration solutions. Microsoft also offers a range of services, such as cloud migration and data management, to help organizations optimize their use of these services.
Is Azure a managed service provider?
Azure can be considered an MSP of sorts as it offers a wide range of cloud-based services, including infrastructure and application management. In addition, Azure offers a range of managed services, such as security and compliance management, to help organizations optimize their use of these services.
Is Salesforce a managed service provider?
Salesforce is a managed service provider in the traditional sense. While they do offer a range of cloud-based services, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation, they are primarily known as a software as a service (SaaS) provider. However, Salesforce does offer a range of managed services, such as consulting and support, specific to their SaaS offering.
What is a fully managed service?
A fully managed service is a managed service provider (MSP) solution that offers full management and support of an entire IT system.
This might range from the installation of hardware and software to continuous maintenance, upgrades, security, and troubleshooting. The MSP assumes complete responsibility for the seamless running of the IT environment with a fully managed service, allowing the customer to focus on their core business tasks.
Small to medium-sized enterprises that lack the resources or skills to maintain their IT infrastructure in-house frequently use this type of service. It can also be a cost-effective choice for larger businesses wishing to outsource specific IT services in order to free up internal staff.
The specifics of a fully managed service vary based on the MSP and the customer’s demands, but they often include proactive monitoring and management, regular reporting, and 24/7 assistance.
What are the key elements of a managed service?
A managed service often includes continuous monitoring and management of IT systems, proactive problem-solving, regular maintenance and updates, access to expert assistance, and, in some cases, some amount of customisation to match the customer’s specific needs.
The service provider is responsible for providing these services, which are often outlined in a service level agreement (SLA) that specifies the scope of services and the expected standards of performance.
A managed service’s purpose is to provide a greater degree of IT support and maintenance than a firm could do in-house, while still allowing the customer to focus on their core business activities. To deliver the service, the service provider often employs a combination of automated tools, industry best practices, and skilled individuals.
What are the benefits of managed services?
Managed services offer several benefits to businesses, including:
- Access to expertise: MSPs have a team of experts who are skilled in managing different IT environments, software, and hardware. This allows businesses to access specialized knowledge and expertise they may not have in-house.
- Predictable costs: managed services often operate on a subscription-based model, which means businesses can budget and plan their IT costs more easily. This helps avoid unexpected expenses and reduces the need for large capital expenditures.
- Improved security: managed service providers can provide advanced security measures and monitoring to protect a business’s data and systems from cyber threats.
- Increased uptime and productivity: with an MSP taking care of IT tasks and maintenance, businesses can focus on their core activities, leading to increased uptime and productivity.
- Scalability: managed services can be scaled up or down as needed, allowing businesses to adjust to changes in demand or IT requirements without having to make major infrastructure investments.
What are the levels of managed services?
Managed services are generally divided into three levels:
- Monitoring-only: the service provider remotely monitors the customer’s IT systems and alerts the customer if any problems are detected. The customer is responsible for resolving any issues.
- Alerting and maintenance: the service provider not only monitors the customer’s IT systems but also performs basic maintenance tasks, such as applying patches and updates, and resolves any issues that are detected.
- Fully managed: the service provider takes full responsibility for the customer’s IT systems and provides proactive maintenance and support. This may include ongoing system optimization, security management, and strategic planning to ensure the customer’s technology is aligned with their business goals.
How do managed services work?
An MSP monitors, manages, and maintains a customer’s systems, including IT infrastructure, applications, and security. This can include basic maintenance and updates as well as more complicated duties such as data backup and disaster recovery.
The MSP employs cutting-edge tools and processes to optimize performance and availability of the customer’s IT environment, while also offering predictable prices and freeing up internal IT workers to focus on more strategic objectives.
The MSP provides visibility into the customer’s IT operations and the value of the services delivered. An MSP’s specific services can vary depending on the customer’s needs and the MSP’s capabilities. They can include a range of services from remote monitoring and management of IT systems, to software engineering and artificial intelligence solutions.
What are the 3 main types of services?
The three main types of technology services are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides customers with access to virtualized computing resources over the internet, including servers, storage, and networking. Customers can use IaaS to build and manage their own IT infrastructure without having to invest in and maintain physical hardware.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) provides customers with a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud, including development tools, middleware, and operating systems. PaaS allows customers to focus on building and deploying their applications without having to worry about underlying infrastructure.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) provides customers with access to software applications over the internet, which are typically hosted and managed by a third-party provider. Customers can use SaaS to access applications without having to install or maintain software on their own devices.
What are managed services in healthcare?
In healthcare, managed services relate to the outsourcing of certain operations and management to a third-party supplier. These services can include customer support, workforce management, information technology (IT), cybersecurity, database management, and much more. Engaging an MSP allows healthcare organizations to concentrate on their primary business of providing patient care.
Network management, data backup and recovery, vendor management, security management, application management, human resource assistance, cloud management, and helpdesk support are examples of managed services in healthcare. These services are supplied by specialized MSPs with healthcare industry experience and knowledge of the unique difficulties and requirements of healthcare IT.
Healthcare MSPs provide healthcare organizations—both private corporations and public sector organizations—with access to dependable, secure, and high-performing IT systems that support their operations, improve patient outcomes, and meet regulatory requirements. Healthcare firms can save money, enhance productivity, and deliver better patient care by outsourcing their IT operations to a qualified managed services provider with deep expertise in the healthcare industry.
What types of MSPs are available?
There are a wide range of MSPs available for everything from IT to digital business transformation to international trade and supply chain management to customer experience to business automation.
Here at Symplicity, we connect you with the best MSP for your needs—and we usually save you a bundle of money in the process!
How can MSPs help drive cost savings?
MSPs can drive cost savings in a number of ways. By providing proactive maintenance and support, MSPs can help reduce downtime and minimize the risk of costly outages. Additionally, MSPs may offer subscription-based pricing models that can help organizations better manage their IT budgets.
MSPs can help businesses improve their supply chain management, reduce costs through subscription-based pricing models, and implement secure access service edge (SASE) solutions.
What is the role of SLAs in managed services?
SLAs, or service level agreements, are contracts that outline the specific services to be provided by a managed services provider. These agreements can help establish expectations and ensure that both the provider and client are on the same page when it comes to service delivery and performance.
Can government agencies benefit from managed services?
Yes, government agencies can benefit from managed services. MSPs can provide specialized expertise in areas such as security, asset management, and international trade. Additionally, MSPs may offer partner programs that allow government agencies to take advantage of specialized solutions and services.
What is digital transformation, and how can MSPs help?
Digital transformation refers to the process of using digital technologies to fundamentally change how organizations operate and deliver value to customers. MSPs can help support digital transformation initiatives by providing expertise in areas such as artificial intelligence, software engineering, and remote monitoring and management.
How do MSPs help with asset management?
MSPs can help organizations manage their IT assets by providing proactive maintenance and support, as well as monitoring and reporting on asset utilization. Additionally, MSPs may offer asset management solutions that help organizations track and manage their hardware and software assets.
What is a chief information officer, and what is their role in managed services?
A chief information officer (CIO) is a senior executive responsible for the strategic direction of an organization’s IT operations. CIOs often work closely with MSPs to ensure that their IT infrastructure is aligned with the organization’s overall business goals and objectives.
What is a secure access service edge (SASE) solution?
A secure access service edge (SASE) solution is a cloud-based security model that combines network security functions with WAN capabilities to provide secure remote access to cloud applications and services. MSPs may offer SASE solutions to help organizations better manage their remote workforce and protect against cyber threats.
What is a pricing model, and how do MSPs use them?
A pricing model is a method of charging for goods or services. MSPs may use various pricing models, such as subscription-based models or pay-per-use models, to help organizations better manage their IT budgets and costs.