What is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)?

In this post and the next one, we’ll discuss what a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is, what they do, and how they’re different from a more traditional on-premise IT solution as well simple hosted services like web hosting or running ad-hoc servers on the public cloud.

An MSP typically offers a sliding scale of services, and these can range from hosting and maintaining selected workloads in an offsite datacenter to taking care of all your IT needs from helpdesk to application support.

That covers a lot! So let’s break it down.

Starting with hosting, this refers to where the services and files are housed. Typically as a managed service, these are run from a secure datacenter, and this can also include public or private cloud systems. These are often connected to your existing on premise environment allowing for seamless access.

With managed services, the MSP will run these systems for you, taking care of things like configurations, new deployments, access control and (importantly) monitoring.

As the systems are purchased and run as a service maintained by the MSP, this removes the need to purchase, upgrade, and maintain on-premise servers. This means that there’s no need for large outlay for equipment and the costs associated with running it. For example maintaining your own server room with the power, network and access requirements.

One of the big pluses here is that an MSP will leverage Enterprise level hardware and software solutions to provide high levels of security, recoverability (via backups) and performance (typically using newer true enterprise grade hardware). This is combined this with active monitoring and proactive issue resolution to allow business users to get on with their work without worrying about IT.

If this sounds a bit like web hosting, it is, but also a lot more. Typically with a web host or similar service you get your own space on a shared server, or a server shared environment and some limited highly focused tech support for only the base systems.

With a managed service hosting, this is just the starting point as most MSPs will provide dedicated systems and network segregation to their clients. The services hosted are often more business focused, typically the services that used to be on premise, for example, multi-tier applications, file services, etc. The MSP will usually also take care of support, both for these hosted services and more general support in the form of a helpdesk.

In the next posting we’ll discuss how the MSP can integrate into your on premise environment to help businesses function better. But in summary, an MSP should provide:

  • Offloading of IT related workload from your staff
  • Secure, reliable hosting in a datacenter environment on enterprise grade hardware
  • Dependable and reliable backup and recovery options as well as business continuity
  • Knowledgeable and responsive support, usually via a helpdesk system
  • Pay for only what you need and use
  • Monitoring and proactive troubleshooting and issue resolution for hosted systems

Learn more about our Managed IT Services.