What is a Managed Service Provider?
A managed service provider (MSP) is a company that remotely manages and completes day-to-day services for businesses relating to IT systems. MSPs improve business operations by monitoring and organization’s servers, routers, firewalls, and more. They are common among any business from a large corporation to small businesses, non-profit organizations, and governments. MSPs control a customer’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems. Services include network, application, and security support.
When MSPs were first developed, the primary focus was remotely monitoring and managing servers and networks. These managed service providers were traditionally only associated with services dealing with infrastructure and specific devices, but have grown to include all ongoing management, maintenance, and support. The growth in the services offered by MSPs aids in differentiating MSPs from other providers.
What Makes MSPs Attractive to Businesses?
Small or medium-sized companies will often use MSPs because they have limited in-house IT capabilities. The IT expertise that MSPs provide can also be useful to larger companies who are looking for support and backup of their existing IT staff.
There’s a lot of choice when it comes to utilizing a managed service provider. Business can choose the services they would like managed externally, by an MSP, and keep the other services in-house. Companies in recent years have realized the benefit in moving their day-to-day operations to a third party. Outsourcing to top managed service providers is one way to work smarter with technology, as it can help eliminate time-consuming, repetitive tasks, and decrease complexity in an employee’s day.
Nobody in the office wants to do the “boring”, repetitive tasks. So passing down some of these mundane technical tasks to an MSP is becoming an increasingly popular choice. The most popular areas of business outsourced to MSPs include information technology, payroll, workforce management, and human resources. MSPs are also a good way to save a bit of money on employees. Paying for an MSP’s services ends up being less than hiring individual employees for the in-house IT department and paying any costs associated with that IT infrastructure. In one study it was found that over time, working with MSPs can decrease a companies maintenance costs by 40% (Gontovnikas, 2018).
Relationship with the Cloud
Many of the managed service providers incorporate the cloud into their service offerings, as it is becoming a valuable tool. Now, more than ever, businesses are susceptible to security threats and data loss. By having files and information backed up and stored in the cloud through MSPs, businesses can relax a bit. Managed cloud service providers are similar to any other MSPs, but with a few added skills. They deal with managing cloud security, network operations, monitoring and reporting, as well as backup and recovery.
Some managed service providers focus on specific areas. One MSP can specialize in aspects of information technology, such as data storage, while another MSP specializes in anything from legal issues to financial services to healthcare. Cloud MSPs create a cloud network where all applications and servers are managed in the same place. This increased network availability due to a central data center allows for improved employee production and an easy option for storage and backups.
Typically, MSPs have a service-level agreement that lays out the specific service offerings. This arrangement is between the MSP and its customers, with a point of detailing the performance and quality that should be expected in the relationship.
How a Managed Service Provider Drives Positive Change
MSPs look at their customers individually. They review a businesses current processes, whether it be payroll, contract storage, or relationship management, and find opportunities to enhance this business. Often times this is done by maximizing savings and reducing spending. Through the review process, MSPs often identify liabilities and challenges within a business's operations that could be improved. The MSP continues to provide support as new processes are implemented or systems are improved.
Businesses today operate in a highly competitive environment. To stay ahead of competitors, companies need to operate smoothly and efficiently. Utilizing MSPs allows for this to happen. Outsourcing managed services allows for more time to focus on the business’ goals and values. Employees can work on the company’s direction, growth, and strategy, rather than constantly being preoccupied with administrative work. Passing off the work of time consuming daily activities helps to shift everyone’s focus to completing tasks that will increase profitability and encourage growth. Utilizing MSPs is one of many ways to implement management tools and software.
The 5 Best-Rated MSPs
Comcast Business is a top managed service provider that strives to offer more than improved network performance. Comcast Business focuses on the future of businesses. Their services include things like simplified management and next generation solutions that aim to drive business initiatives and growth. Comcast Business points out that they run one of the largest communication networks in the country and are capable of helping customers address network management responsibilities and create strategic methods.
Builder Cloud is a MSP focusing on the importance of a strong infrastructure through a cloud network. This MSP’s offerings include moving existing infrastructure from a company’s servers to one of Builder Cloud’s cloud partners, offering flexible contracts, creating disaster recovery plans, and detailing analytics on spending.
Another managed IT service firm, Parachute, is known for its IT consultation and business support. Reviews of the MSP mention the high level of customer satisfaction because of Parachute’s turnaround and follow through of any and all projects. Parachute works directly with its customers to address inefficiencies and set new IT goals. Parachute also helps companies scale for the future, making sure that all systems are up to date and secure and act proactively when they aren’t.
For some, Auxis might stand out among other MSPs because it is a performance driven outsourcing and consulting firm made up of former industry professionals. Auxis uses a “real-world”, results-oriented approach to shape their customers culture and vision. Additionally, Auxis is known for its project leadership, partnership mentality, and general expertise through a structured approach.
IBM offers one of the widest ranges of managed services on the market. This tech giant can both offer these services to customers directly, but also to other MSPs. IBM also provides a skills and training program so IT professionals can review old skills and learn new ones.