What Is a Managed Service Provider?
According to the experts at Gartner, the definition of a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is:
A managed service provider (MSP) delivers network, application, system and e-management services across a network to multiple enterprises, using a “pay as you go” pricing model. A “pure play” MSP focuses on management services as its core offering. In addition, the MSP market includes offerings from other providers — including application service providers (ASPs), Web hosting companies and network service providers (NSPs) — that supplement their traditional offerings with management services. (Source)
Depending on the nature and size of your business, your IT needs may be better handled through a Managed Service Provider (MSP): a company that remotely manages a customer’s IT infrastructure and/or end-user systems, typically on a proactive basis and under a subscription model.
Here are some of the ways a MSP can work with your organization.
Pay only for the services you need.
Working with a MSP can make it much easier for you to manage your IT budget. Because most MSPs offer subscription models and scalable pricing, you can contract for only the services you need. If you’re more comfortable with IT personnel onsite for a few hours a week, you can also contract with an MSP for part-time support that offices in your business.
Add support when your workload requires.
Another benefit is that MSPs simplify adding support, giving you the flexibility to grow and change your IT as your business priorities change. Fill in for team members on vacation, medical, or other extended leaves of absences. Or you can add team members while you look for new team members, without missing a beat supporting your organization’s technology needs.
Manage your hardware and software.
MSPs can manage your hardware and software assets, whether that means installing and configuring file servers and network switches, setting new workstations, or maintaining software installation and site licenses. Look to your MSP to help you budget for planned equipment replacement and software updates and upgrades.
Because MSPs monitor and maintain your hardware and software, you’re less likely to have unexpected downtime or lose business due to equipment and software failures.
In terms of business continuity, MSPs can be an important part of practicing due diligence to secure customer information and other sensitive, proprietary information. For instance, by contracting with an MSP for offsite storage, you know that your business and personnel records are safe in the event of a fire, natural disaster, or break-in.
MSPs can also maintain and upgrade anti-virus software, perform security checks and updates on hardware and software, and do risk assessments for new IT projects. An MSP can even work with law enforcement in the event of a data or network security breach.
Fill in specialty team skills.
MSPs can also help you grow your business and marketing strategies. Since MSPs serve in place of dedicated IT staff on your payroll, the resulting salary savings make it possible to contract for more, and in some cases more innovative, business solutions.
For instance, you may be able to start a website and online store sooner by contracting with an MSP, who can house data and help manage and troubleshoot online payment systems. An MSP can also help you develop mobile apps for smartphone and tablet computers.
So what is an MSP?
Managed Service Providers serve a multitude of functions at varying budget and skill levels. You might even contract MSPs that offer on-demand service, often for higher contract rates, but who are able to fill gaps on a contract level.
When you work with a trusted partner, you will uncover and address the areas of your business where you can use additional support, but want to stay in control of your IT budget.
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