Managed service providers (MSPs) are a growing part of the IT professional landscape. According to IDC research, more than 200,000 MSPs will be in the US by 2020. This growth is due to the increased demand for IT services and support for small businesses and enterprises that want cloud-based solutions but lack the internal resources or expertise to deploy them correctly. In short: Managed service providers are an increasing necessity in today's business world. That being said. What exactly is a managed services provider (MSP)? And how can you leverage their expertise? 

What is a managed services provider? 

A managed services provider (MSP) is a business that provides IT services to other companies. MSPs typically act as third-party, independent consultants for their clients. They can often be one-stop shops for your IT needs, offering everything from cloud hosting to cybersecurity and even computer repair. 

For example, if you run an online store but have no idea how to create an eCommerce website, an MSP could help set up your store while teaching you how to use it yourself in the future. Or if you want to start selling on Amazon but don't have the time or technical knowledge needed yet know they will need more than just essential services like web hosting and email (they may also require custom development), an MSP might be able to provide those as well while acting as your liaison with Amazon itself. 

What does a managed services provider do? 

A managed services provider is a company that specializes in IT support, but unlike other similar companies, they do not sell hardware or software. Instead, they focus on the technical aspects of running your business and supporting it. They can help with anything from setting up your business to securing its systems against cyberattacks. 

This means that you don't have to worry about hiring new employees and buying expensive equipment; the MSP takes care of all that for you while also saving you money by using fewer resources than if they were employed internally (such as when businesses hire their own IT staff). 

What is the difference between a managed service provider and a VAR? 

If you've ever looked into setting up a network, you may have run across the term VAR. VARs are companies that sell and install software, hardware, and other technology. They can help businesses find the right products for their needs, but they don't go so far as to provide ongoing support or maintenance services. 

If you're looking to outsource your IT operations entirely and want someone else to be responsible for managing it all, then a managed service provider (MSP) is more likely to be your best bet. An MSP is more likely than a VAR to be a one-stop shop: They'll handle all aspects of IT management in-house instead of just selling products or installations for you.  

This means that if something goes wrong with an employee's computer or network, she can call her company's MSP directly rather than going through another vendor each time she has an issue with her tech needs—and there's no need for multiple vendors' systems getting confused about who owns what when there's only one person responsible for everything. 

Office of people sitting working at their computers

What are the benefits of using a managed service provider? 

You'll benefit from all of the above when you choose to work with an MSP. And that's just a tiny sampling. With an MSP in your corner, you'll be able to improve your bottom line and increase profitability for your business. You'll also enjoy a better customer experience, which means happy clients and more referrals.  

Further, your employees will be more productive since they don't have to worry about IT problems anymore—that's one less thing they have on their plates. 

Additionally, working with an MSP means increased security because they're constantly monitoring all aspects of your network and implementing new measures like firewalls to prevent hackers from gaining access to your systems. They can also help get rid of old computers or devices at no cost (or minimal costs) so that they don't pose any risk whatsoever if someone were ever able to break into them later down the road. 

How to choose a managed services provider? 

Choosing a managed services provider can be daunting, especially if you are new to the world of IT. The best way to find a good MSP is by asking around and doing your research. The following are some things that you should consider before signing a contract with any MSP: 

  • Look for references from other business owners who have used this service provider in the past. Call them up and ask about their experience working with them. 
  • Ask about the support they offer for each area of technology your business uses, such as cybersecurity or data protection solutions. Most managed providers offer these services, but some may not be able to provide them effectively because they don't have enough resources available internally, like an employee who specializes in this field which could lead to poor performance when solving problems related to it (like security breaches). 
  • Consider whether or not they charge extra fees just because they're transferring over control of everything pertaining back over towards yourself when there's nothing wrong going on currently; most providers will charge extra money upfront but later reimburse some percentage once things start getting better/more efficient overall so make sure this isn't happening before signing anything permanent. 

Learn how leveraging an MSP can help your business succeed. 

MSPs are a valuable resource for businesses of all sizes. Most notably, they can help you focus on what you do best while they take care of the rest. This allows you to save money and improve your business processes by outsourcing many essential IT services to an expert MSP provider.  

In addition to providing hardware and software solutions (typically requiring ongoing management), an MSP may offer additional services like network monitoring and security services that ensure your information technology infrastructure runs smoothly. 

Key takeaway 

This post has looked at what a managed services provider is and how they can help your business succeed. These days, it's often easier to outsource your IT than manage it yourself, so if you need some help with your technology needs, consider working with an MSP.