Many of us have heard the term “managed services provider,” but exactly what is an MSP, anyway?
An MSP is a company offering remote IT managing services to its clients’ IT infrastructure. The client allows the MSP to monitor its entire network from a centralized location. They will also provide cybersecurity protections, end-user protection, cloud services, and much more. The MSP will bundle the cost of the services into one predictable, monthly bill based on the Service Level Agreement the client signs.
Many times, clients find the services offered by an MSP to be less expensive than they can get with their own IT department. This is because MSPs have large pools of talent and resources and can get services or hardware far cheaper than a company can on its own. These companies also find that not having to pay salaries to expand an IT department saves them significant money in their IT budget.
Surprisingly, the idea of using a centralized platform to manage IT issues is not a new one. From the 1970s through the 1990s, the first pre-MSPs began to emerge from the prehistoric computer age. At that time, the desktop computers were clunky, screens flashed green cursors, and millions of people died virtually of dysentery in the game, The Oregon Trail.
Enter the Application Service Providers. ASPs began offering remote hosting services for applications. This set the framework for the evolution of managed services providers. Originally, these MSPs focused mainly on RRM, or remote monitoring and management. More people became aware of these early managed services providers and wondered, “just what is an MSP and how is it different from ASPs?”
The obvious answer to this was for the MSPs to distinguish themselves by adding services. Today’s MSPs offer everything including backup and recovery solutions, cloud services, employee cybersecurity awareness training, network repairs, VPNs, hardware upgrades, email security, event monitoring, and, of course, cybersecurity.
Small to medium-sized businesses make up a large portion of the MSP landscape. These are the businesses that tend to have smaller IT budgets, a lack of qualified IT personnel, and fewer resources than their bigger counterparts. Still, over two-thirds of small businesses consider technology to be an important aspect in achieving their goals, and nearly 73% of medium businesses agree. The numbers aren’t on the side of SMB’s; in 2018, a study revealed that 67% of cyber-attacks happened to these smaller companies.
What is an MSP value to these companies? There are several ways managed services can help SMBs.
The value of an MSP to a small to medium-sized business will always come back in ways your budget will thank you for, such as predictable billing under your Service Level Agreement.
(Find out How Network Doctor will Save Your Business Serious Bucks! Download our free eBook, 7 Ways Network Doctor Will Save You Money)
Your managed services provider will evaluate your network, looking for security gaps and potential issues within it. This evaluation will consider the size of your business, how many employees are working for you, what your industry or vertical is, and what your end goals are. Your threat risks and the condition of your current hardware will all be evaluated as well. In short, if it concerns your network, it will be looked over.
The Service Level Agreement is a signed contract explaining the services you will receive each month. It can range from comprehensive to basic with add-ons, depending on your needs.
This contract guarantees that you understand completely what is covered and what is not. The result is predictable monthly billing, much like your cable bills or car payments. Everyone loves a surprise, like a visit from your long-lost Aunt Erma, but no one likes surprise charges on their bills.
Some companies have their own IT departments, or they “have a guy” who can fix network issues as they arise. This is called a break-fix model. The problem with this approach is that by the time the issue has affected your network, chances are, it's grown into a much larger one.
Break-fix can be an option with some MSPs, but most companies and MSPs will choose to proactively monitor the network and look for these issues before they affect daily activities. Even one hour of downtime can cost your business significantly, so your MSP will constantly look at your network to prevent downtime from happening in the first place.
What is an MSP option may not be an option for your internal IT department; chances are, you can’t afford to have “your guy” constantly reading event logs and looking for network errors.
Co-managed services is a great balance between “having a guy” and reliable, fast network repair.
(“Got a Guy?” Learn More About Co-Managed Services With This Comprehensive eBook, Co-Managed Services: A CEO’s Guide. This guide will show you how to use co-managed services to boost your IT department’s productivity for less than increasing your staffing)
Network Doctor is a growing IT firm that never forgot its small business feel. In fact, we specialize in small to medium-sized businesses, just like yours. We have the solutions you need at the prices you can afford, backed by the reputation and expertise you can rely on.