The issue of high operational costs, constrained efficiency, and lack of specialized expertise never seems to end for businesses looking to cut back expenses and streamline operations. Only less than a decade ago, businesses relied on piles of paperwork and relic storage devices to run daily operations.
As we inch deeper and deeper into the cloud exodus, remote work, and accelerated mobile application development, partnering with a managed IT service provider will become more a necessity than a privilege. Managed IT service providers (or MSPs) offer network application management, infrastructure maintenance, installation, and cybersecurity services as part of their ongoing service administration.
If you’re new to MSP services, read on for more insights into the essence of a managed service provider. Learn how businesses leverage specialized skill sets, minimize costs, and drive more efficient operations with a managed service provider in Boston.
- Managed service providers (MSPs) are outsourced IT companies that provide services that would otherwise be provided by an in-house team. Such services include IT support, maintenance, and consulting services for better control over IT infrastructure.
- Since their rise in the 1990s, managed services providers have widened their scope to include remote system and network monitoring, cybersecurity management, system updates, and security management, among others.
- Hiring an MSP lowers IT administration costs by eliminating the need for hiring full-time in-house staff and expensive software acquisition.
What are Managed Service Providers?
Managed service providers are third-party companies that offer IT solutions for businesses. The scope of managed service providers has widened with rapid technology breakthroughs over the last decade. For instance, with cloud migration, businesses can facilitate remote work and access to data via remote infrastructure.
However, migrating to the cloud brings additional problems into the mix. First, the cost of migrating to the cloud ranges from $5,000 for small workloads to as high as $500,000. Still, 60% of all corporate data now exists now stored on the cloud. But, there exists yet another challenge – the issue of security.
As businesses adopt new technologies, inherent risks in cybersecurity, data loss, malware infection, equipment failure, and compliance pose real threats with devastating consequences when not addressed in time. Managed IT service providers can help mitigate such risks by taking a proactive stance, whether that means deploying cost-effective cloud migration policies or building solid cybersecurity measures to address the growing threats.
Businesses can leverage MSP expertise in developing, maintaining, and securing data backups, setting up robust defenses against cyber attacks with end-point encryption. In essence, managed IT service providers help businesses make the most out of their IT ecosystem.
The Evolution of MSPs
Since the early days of computing, businesses have solicited ways to make computing power accessible in key operations. In the 90s, MSPs started out as Value Added Resellers (VARs), or essentially, companies that resold hardware and software with additional consultancy services.
Next came the remote monitoring phase where MSPs no longer had to address client concerns on the premises, but could instead, do it remotely. Switching to remote monitoring was accelerated by remote monitoring software whose implementation coincided with the then MSPs opting to pursue fewer equipment sales and more pressing consultancy services.
By 2005, the MSP business model that we know today had taken root in business operations. Currently, nearly half (45%) of large businesses intend to partner with an MSP, with more expected to join the bandwagon in the near future.
Core Functions of MSPs
MSP duties cover a broad range of functions devised to keep businesses ahead of the IT issues with the latest tech.
Some MSP services include:
- Basic IT support and maintenance tasks, e.g., software installation and updates, and system monitoring. MSPs also provide more advanced services including cloud migration and data security management.
- Proactive IT support – The old break-fix approach no longer works when it comes to resolving issues remotely. Downtime, for instance, can wreak havoc on businesses if not mitigated promptly. A proactive IT support provider monitors system health 24/7 and responds promptly.
- Strategic IT advice and guidance to help businesses make better decisions about their IT investments. Success-driven MSPs can assess a business’s IT needs and determine the best solutions for their individual requirements, enabling key stakeholders to make informed decisions.
MSPs can provide the necessary resources and expertise to ensure your business has the most reliable technology infrastructure.
Benefits of Hiring an MSP
Undoubtedly, hiring an MSP has significant benefits. First on our list is the cost-saving power of an outsourced team. On average, it costs $94,906 annually to hire one IT in-house manager. That does not include training costs, hiring and administrative costs, and health benefits.
An MSP can help your business save money by cutting the need for an in-house IT team; if you already have an in-house team, an outsourced IT provider can take over more complex tasks, leaving your in-house team to focus on what they do best.
What’s more, MSPs are highly efficient, as they’re able to quickly assess and resolve IT issues, preventing prolonged downtime. Professional MSP companies bring skilled expertise in resolving diverse business challenges.
As such, having an MSP by your side keeps you ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. They’re well-placed to bolster your defenses against the growing threat of cyber-attacks.
Potential Drawbacks of MSPs
While the potential benefits of MSPs are worth the investment, there are some drawbacks business owners should be aware of before proceeding.
Managed services can be expensive to set up, depending on your service level agreement and the provider’s pricing model. Hourly rate MSPs, for instance, charge a fee for every hour of service provided. Often, they will include additional charges for services rendered outside the service agreement.
A cheaper alternative would be flat-rate or fixed-price MSPs. These service providers charge a flat fee for all services covered in the agreement.
The quality of service offered may also not meet your required standards. In part, this depends on your industry and the internal processes of the provider. It also depends on the provider’s experience and skill set – many MSPs are faced with a skills shortage.
Finally, some MSPs may limit your ability to make changes to your IT infrastructure, as they may not be willing or able to provide the necessary support.
Selecting the Right MSP
Before selecting an MSP, you must first determine the level of support and services you need. A careful analysis of the internal needs reveals the gaps that the ideal MSP would fill.
Additionally, you should look into the MSP’s service level agreement (SLA) to ensure that they’ll provide quality service and support when you need it. Different MSPs offer different packages, so it’s important to ensure that the package you select meets all of your business’s specific needs.
It is also important to consider the MSP’s available resources. A well-equipped MSP may be able to provide more comprehensive services. Experienced MSPs bring vast industry knowledge to the business; they’re able to anticipate your needs and provide effective solutions.
Finally, consider the cost of the MSP’s services. While it’s important to get the most reliable services possible, you should also be aware of your budget. Research the different pricing models offered by MSPs and select the one that fits best with your business needs and budget.
Managed service providers are an indispensable part of modern-day business operations. The right partner will depend on your unique needs, preferences, and the challenges faced in day-to-day operations. Lastly, don’t forget to consider any potential drawbacks before making your decision; dig deeper into stories from other businesses who’ve had success with MSPs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Specific Services Do MSPs Offer?
MSP services include system management, network and cloud installation and maintenance, cybersecurity, and remote support. Depending on their internal structure, some MSPs usually focus on providing access and support for their own product. Others act as third-party vendors (resellers/brokers), offering management, support, guidance, and installation of third-party security, infrastructure, and other IT services.
What Makes MSPs Better Than In-House IT Support?
MSPs often possess more expertise in their field than in-house IT. With decades of exposure to issues facing a wide range of businesses, managed IT service providers are able to detect and resolve issues quickly at a fraction of the time and cost it would take for an in-house IT team.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an MSP?
The cost of hiring an MSP varies on the business size, location, and the complexity of the issues it faces, among other factors. On average, it costs about $10-$100 per user/device per month for remote monitoring. Service level agreements further dictate the cost of an MSP. Flat-rate services are considered lower than hourly billing. Everything is covered in the flat monthly fee, so no hidden costs.
How Long Does It Usually Take for an MSP to Deliver Results?
Getting measurable results from your MSP takes a few weeks or months depending on your business size, needs, and industry. A lot goes into setting up your environment, configuration, and client installation. However, you’ll get the most benefit from an MSP when you make a long-term commitment.
What Kind of Customer Support Can I Expect When Working With an MSP?
When working with an MSP, you can expect a high level of customer support. Many MSPs provide top-priority support for their clients, especially on incidents that may cause unplanned downtime.