What Are Managed IT Support Services?

To start let’s answer the simple question of what are managed IT support services? Managed services let businesses outsource IT operations to a Managed Service Provider, also known as an MSP. The MSP takes on the responsibility for monitoring, managing, and troubleshooting the IT systems that it has been contracted to oversee.

MSPs offer a wide range of different services

What an MSP offers will depend entirely on what that specific MSP focuses on. Some will place an emphasis on storage and storage related management services, others on desktop management and help desk services. There are also MSPs that provide oversight for server hardware, operating systems, etc.
What MSP’s will not oversee

Because MSPs will often emphasize on one area they will often have to neglect another. For example some MSPs will only offer limited support for applications (like e-mail).
MSPs are an extension of the IT Department

Many MSPs offer onsite services (as they become necessary), if the client business is located within the serviceable region, in addition to caring for the IT infrastructure monitoring and around the clock management of that infrastructure.
MSPs are proactive IT management

MSPs proactively monitor and maintain a business’s systems. An MSP will help you avoid the many problems that arise just from being connected to the internet and being used every day. And should a problem arise, the MSP call upon the combined experience of its many employees to efficiently troubleshoot and resolve those problems.
MSPs keep labor costs low

In order to keep their labor costs low and stay an affordable (and enticing) extension of a client’s IT department the vast majority of MSPs utilize remote monitoring and management software, also known as RMM software. This allows the MSP to keep an eye on their clients’ IT network. The RMM software allows the MSP to troubleshoot and remediate issues with servers and other client devices without having to actually be on site. This software allows MSPs to manage multiple clients’ IT networks at the same time.

Typical clients of am MSP

For the most part small to medium-sized businesses make up most of the client base for the average MSP. The reason is simple, smaller businesses usually have very limited capabilities for working with IT in-house. An MSP’s offers a way for small businesses to gain access to those with IT expertise that they may not otherwise be able to afford. On occasion a larger organization will contract with MSPs. Governmental agencies that often face budget and hiring limitations will sometimes use an MSP. This is usually in addition to current IT staff.
Different business model than the typical IT solution provider

MSPs have a different business model than most others in the IT solution provider industry. The typical IT solutions provider will pursue the break/fix model and price their services based on the materials needed and the time it takes to fix what is broken. This can come at a fixed price for replacing standard equipment (servers, computers, etc.), or at a scale based on time and materials (installing/replacing network cable)

Those types of solutions providers make money based on contracting and completing each project, though one exception is massive and complex projects that may have milestones payments cabling up a college campus being an example). But those are generally the exception and not the rule. For the most part these typical solution providers make their money off of single transactions.

MSP’s do not. Instead they contract with a business for a period of time to maintain and repair as needed the IT system they are contracted to oversee. This is important because it means the MSP (as a business) is stable. It will not disappear, and instead develops a standing and ongoing relationship with their clients that is mutually beneficial.
Cloud computing is creating challenges for MSPs

Cloud computing has begun to affect the market place that MSPs operate in. MSPs clients have started to move the different components of their IT infrastructure to the cloud. This has made it so MSPs have had to figure out methods for managing hybrid cloud environments. As part of this changing environment MSPs have started to provide their own cloud services (or resell other cloud provider capabilities) in addition to cloud-based backup and disaster recovery.
The client keeps control of IT assets.

Traditionally when outsourcing situations, the client surrenders complete control of their IT assets. This is not the case with MSPs. Instead the client decides what the MSP will take care of. The client has full visibility into both the process and management of the IT systems.

Typical characteristics of MSPs

When broken down MSPs will have several distinct characteristics. The MSP will have some form of Network Operation Center (NOC) and some sort of help desk service. They will be able to remotely monitor and manage a majority of the assets for the client. The MSP will be proactive in maintaining and managing the designated IT systems for the client. Providing these solutions will be in tandem with predictable billing model. In other words the client will know what their regular IT expense will be.