What is a Managed Service Provider?
A managed service provider or an MSP proactively manages IT systems for organizations even as preventing any downtime or security issues. Partnering with an Managed Service Provider brings optimized productivity and effectiveness to organizations. While managed services open doors for organizations to specific skills and capabilities, they allow them to rapidly scale up and scale down their infrastructure based on requirements. Leading MSPs understand the current requirement of organizations and help them bridge the gaps while mitigating challenges.
Managed service providers are a necessary option for most businesses in this digital age. A managed service provider (MSP) acts as an intermediary between clients and a range of IT providers. MSP’s offer security and peace of mind that can be difficult for small businesses to maintain for cheap. It’s likely the best choice for your business, if you can make it work.
The definition of a dedicated managed service provider is not just that it is a third party providing you with IT services. The most important aspects are that it provides these services for multiple organizations, and on a recurring basis. In other words, this type of provider charges its customers an annual fee for services its customers need repeatedly. The recurring nature of the business sets apart MSPs from IT consultants who may do an occasional project for a single customer. Their focus is ongoing service to multiple customers.
MSPs are the experts the businesses often turn to for ongoing help concerning network security, data backups, technical support, and system maintenance and repair. While many businesses have tried to set up these services in-house with varying degrees of success or failure, MSPs can offer a smoother experience by handling all aspects of IT services under one umbrella.
MSP – Past and Present
Before MSPs, the break/fix model was followed by organizations for addressing problems while iterating the budgets according to situations. With the evolution of the IT industry and the rise of cloud computing, the demand for IT (information technology) outsourcing grew aggressively. This pushed organizations to search for a solution that offers continuous support and monitoring of their infrastructure.
Evolution of MSPs has seen many shifts over the past few years, ranging from best practices and third parties to becoming a model of choice for organizations. The upward spiral of digital adoption and proliferation of the internet has changed customer preferences. This in turn is intensifying the competition among organizations through immersive and enhanced customer experience. Furthermore, organizations are increasingly focusing on continuous improvement to achieve seamless customer satisfaction.
Gartner expects over 50% of organizations to scale their digital business in the near future. The need for business continuity, risk management, automated tasks, and informed decision-making is driving the demand for managed service providers. Moreover, the need for challenge resolution with scalability and continuous optimization further drove the need for managed services providers. Many organizations that run their business on the cloud partner with MSPs for effective business growth.
Benefits of Partnering with the Right MSP
There is no one-stop-solution in managed services, but customized ones that fit well with the particular needs of organizations. Following are some of the major benefits of partnering with the right managed service provider while maintaining company efficiency.
1. Flexible Infrastructure
Workloads on the cloud infrastructure run on codes and organizations have witnessed the implementation of that through in-house experts to be time-intensive. However, managed service providers enable organizations to save using the already available infrastructure and use it on the pay-as-you-go basis. This further helps organizations deploy numerous solutions based on their requirements in near real-time.
2. Expert Consultation
Intelligence and insights are key to consistent success and MSPs offer organizations with hands-on experience in resolving business problems. This further makes the process of leveraging business prospects smooth. MSPs not only provide organizations with optimal solutions but also enable them to identify and remediate the business gaps.
3. Improved productivity
Driving initiatives brings many challenges to organizations. This makes them rethink their IT budgets while continuously meeting customer expectations. Managed service providers facilitate challenge resolution time-effectively, in turn enabling seamless operations and improved productivity.
4. Proactive Operations
Organizations leverage the expertise of MSPs for adding value to their business model with smooth operations. A robust IT environment is the key to consistent upward growth of businesses. Managed service providers offer profound strategies with continuous support to ensure prevention of business compromises for organizations.
5. Cost Optimization
Cost reduction is an attractive USP of managed service providers, as these services come in packages which can be scaled up or scaled down based on requirements. This further makes the infrastructure of organizations more flexible and effective while enabling cost optimization.
Managed Service Providers – Key Challenges
Managing services providers are competing in a mature market that is continuously evolving. Expectations and requirements of organizations embracing digital and cloud transformation vary at a significant degree. This has brought some challenges for the managed service providers to address.
1. Service Delivery
Integration of applications with an efficient time-to-delivery is a key challenge for MSPs. Many problems must be considered before migrating an organization’s application to the cloud, such as adapting workloads to the new environment, maintaining a consistently robust infrastructure management, and making allowances for the life cycle of operations. The nature of applications such as being tightly coupled with hard-coded values and time-intensive start/stop procedures create challenges for MSPs to address.
Pricing can be the Achilles heel for MSP Business Management as it involves the venture to win contracts of organizations. This further leads MSPs to undervalue their services or establish pricing models that drive a comparatively less profit. Furthermore, it is difficult for MSPs to increase prices in the increasingly competitive marketplace, where margin erosion and commoditization remain key barriers.
3. Consistency of Quality Services
Automation is essential for offering quality services to organizations within their budgets and on time for maintaining long-term relationships. MSPs need to proactively deliver the quality of services that organizations need while facing multiple interoperability complications. Additionally, technical capabilities that involve multiple functionalities add to the cost of management tools and software.
4. Changing Customer Expectations
Expectations of organizations are constantly changing, which include the need for an always-on infrastructure and customized solutions for evolving needs. Organizations are well aware of the essentialities of digital and cloud solutions, which has brought transformations in their purchasing patterns. This impacts managed service providers, making them come up with new methods that add value to their offerings to meet customer expectations.
5. Cloud Adoption
Cloud computing remains a top revenue driver for MSPs, which brings concerns regarding the changing trends in technology. MSPs must adapt to changes faster for managing multiple cloud-native solutions even as delivering value to organizations. Moreover, enabling rapid adoption of the cloud necessitates training, development, and specializations that are both cost-intensive and time-intensive.
Types of Managed Service Providers
There are several strains of managed services offered by technology providers to enable organizations in easily managing their infrastructure. Following are key services offered by managed service providers for organizations to achieve success and a competitive advantage in the modern business world.
1. Infrastructure and Networks
MSPs help organizations in managing their computing resources, storage, operating systems, and network monitoring. They do this by incorporating effective tools and technologies essential to the infrastructure, which are often chosen based on functional requirements of organizations. Cloud environments must meet the flexibility and cost requirements of organizations and partner with the right MSP effectively meets this requirement. Organizations are allowed to focus on their core business objectives while leaving the management of their infrastructure and networks in the hands of the managed service provider.
A wide range of security as a service solutions is offered by managed security service providers (MSSPs), which range from remote security updates and patch management to malware protection. Nearly one in three organizations are planning to partner with a service provider for seamless operations of their digital business, according to Gartner. This has further made them strengthen their security posture for avoiding cyberattacks, data breaches, and malware attacks.
MSPs help organizations secure their data from threats and ensure that their networks are up-to-date with the latest technologies like having network monitoring in place. This prevents breaches into security protocols and enables system reliability. Moreover, managed service providers help organizations in maintaining the compatibility of their infrastructure components by integrating into a more fragmented, extensive network.
It is commonly observed that the internal teams of organizations face unique issues related to protocols, systems, or prompts. With the help of MSPs, the workforce of organizations is capable of resolving issues through remote monitoring and management support for guidance in any given challenge.
Managed support services are driven by service-level agreements (SLAs) which leverage software and programs for issue resolution. In addition, they offer organizations with remote application management and implementation while ensuring fast fixes to issues. Managed support services ensure timely addressing of challenges with minimum downtime along with enhanced cost savings and productivity.
4. Data Analytics
Identifying the trends and dynamics of the marketplace is imperative for organizations to keep pace with change. MSPs are highly reliable with regards to data acquisition and analysis, which in turn optimizes the business models of organizations completely. With such advanced data analytics on the cloud, organizations are capable of targeting a broader market through efficient supply chain management that is on par with emerging trends.
Software-as-a-Service or SaaS delivers organizations with the peace of mind for running their business seamlessly while maintaining system security. Managed services providers offer software solutions that are subscribable to endless access as long as the SLAs are intact. They ensure that the organization’s infrastructure remains updated with patches that can be remotely implemented instantly on availability. This guarantees to maintain an optimal level of service while allowing the organizations to focus on their major objectives.
Managed communications services blend voice, video, and data into a single network platform along with a contact centre. The contact centre further includes a combination of traditional functionalities integrated with instant messaging and various other forms of engagement.
These services enable organizations’ staff to transmit data and intelligence across systems from anywhere in a secure pattern. They further facilitate organizations in conducting virtual meetings through video conferencing with high security for members from remote monitoring locations. In short, managed service providers help organizations to achieve synergy via streamlining processes at a relatively low cost.
Finding the Right Partner
For organizations searching for differentiation among managed service providers, various areas are confronted for transitioning to cloud environments. Organizations want continuous tech support and better ROI, which MSPs meet effectively through evaluation of new services for fitting them with business-specific requirements.
It is essential that organizations keenly identify prioritize their challenges by considering the variables to be addressed before investing in an MSP. They must ask the right questions such as
- How will they realize a proactive business with strategic innovation?
- How will new technologies, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and automation be leveraged for enhancing their business operations?
- What degree of business stability and reliability will they achieve through the managed services offered?
Transparency is the key, otherwise, it leads to a mismatch between services employed and compromised outcomes. Organizations must make sure that they get the best fit of services and solutions for their infrastructure to ensure seamless integration of technological capabilities.
The Future of Managed Service Providers
Managed Service Provider are expected to face intense competition in the upcoming years. This will lead them to be competitive by staying informed and ready for changing business dynamics and trends. The proliferation of technologies such as edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and the internet of things (IoT) is expected to be potentially disruptive areas for MSPs.
Data will be a vital aspect influencing future offerings of managed cloud service providers while security grows as a pressing area of focus for organizations. Moving forward, MSPs that invest and upskill in identity and access management, risk management, and compliance are highly likely to remain at the forefront of competition.