To recap our connectivity ecosystem series thus far: Network service providers (NSPs) provide the foundation upon which the internet is built; internet exchange points (IXPs) supply the connectivity glue that holds the internet together; content delivery networks (CDNs) enable internet content to get to users in a fast and consumable way.
The final element of the ecosystem we would like to address are managed services providers (MSPs), who leverage the entire ecosystem of networks, connectivity and delivery to ensure robust, cost-effective solutions and services for internet users.
What is a managed services provider?
An MSP is a third-party contractor that provides companies with IT consulting and services, often through the cloud. They usually charge for their services on a subscription model and may offer different packages of services based on a client’s particular needs. MSPs can deploy hardware and software, manage various IT functions and operations, monitor systems, as well as handle software updates, solution upgrades, and security and compliance issues.
MSPs can deliver IT services and expertise that may not otherwise be available to an organization due to limited budgets, knowledge or resources. There are many different types of MSPs providing a wide range of services for organizations of all sizes. Some MSPs specialize in certain areas of IT, such as data storage, email security, network monitoring, or emerging technologies (IoT, artificial intelligence and so on). Others specialize in servicing specific markets, such as healthcare, supply chain, or finance.
Benefits of using a managed services provider
Partnering with an MSP can be extremely beneficial to organizations in a multitude of ways, including:
Efficiency and competitiveness
Using an MSP to augment your in-house IT staff by handling routine IT tasks and monitoring can significantly increase the efficiency of your business operations. Organizations have limited staff and resources. The more IT services that have to be performed in-house, the more people you have to hire, the longer IT projects will take, and the more money you need to spend. There are many facets of IT that can be outsourced to third-party MSPs, allowing your in-house team to stay focused on the core business priorities that most affect your bottom line.
For example, while your in-house team undertakes major projects such as strategic technology planning or cloud migration, an MSP can simultaneously handle things such as network monitoring, web hosting, firewalls and email security. MSPs can also provide targeted support for issues that come up during periods of change or growth.
Valuable expertise and resources
Because MSPs typically focus on one particular area of technology, they usually possess far more expertise and experience in their respective domain than most in-house IT personnel. Professionals who work for MSPs often receive ongoing training as well. They will be up-to-date on the latest technologies, strategies, and challenges in their particular area of focus, and will likely have already seen and dealt with many of the IT problems that may arise for your organization. MSPs can also deal with software and hardware vendors for you, so you don’t have to spend time involved in complex, technical conversations.
Many MSPs also provide ready-made cloud infrastructure. It could take in-house developers months to create cloud infrastructure codes from scratch and configure all of your organization’s applications. MSPs eliminate this entire process because they already have libraries of such codes at the ready. These out-of-the-box configurations can easily be tweaked and modified to fit each client’s individual needs and requirements. This enables companies to deploy solutions much faster and at a fraction of the cost.
Security and compliance
At one point or another, every business will be targeted by cybercriminals. But most companies don’t have the resources to monitor their networks and services 24/7. If a cyber-attack occurs outside of normal business hours, it may go undetected until the next day. The longer it takes to detect a security breach, the more damage it’s likely to cause, and the more time and money will have to be spent fixing it.
Outdated infrastructure can also be a security risk. As hackers discover new exploits in older hardware and software, these must be frequently updated with patches and security fixes. But in-house IT staffers are already pressed for time with all of their day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, and too often fall behind on update schedules.
An MSP can consistently monitor your systems to detect security breaches 24/7, and audit your infrastructure to ensure it’s always up-to-date and well-maintained. They also possess very specific industry knowledge and experience, and know how to avoid risk and remain in compliance in their areas of expertise. An online retailer, for example, could partner with an MSP to ensure PCI security standards are always maintained. Or a healthcare provider could leverage an MSP’s expertise to audit all of their security practices to ensure HIPAA compliance.
As we’ve discussed, contracting with an MSP can significantly decrease IT overhead by reducing labor costs and preventing expensive IT failures and security breaches. They also charge on a subscription model, which means you pay a fixed monthly or yearly rate for ongoing service and support. This enables you to budget around predictable IT costs, rather than a variable and unforeseeable IT spend. If something goes wrong, the MSP is contractually obligated to fix it while you still pay the same rate.
MSPs also have established, ongoing relationships with technology vendors. This allows them to negotiate lower prices and more services on behalf of your organization. MSPs are often able to purchase IT products at wholesale prices. They can then provide you with the software and equipment necessary to manage your infrastructure at special discount rates, further maximizing your cost savings.
While the internet is up and running and available for anyone to use, without MSPs, every organization would have to perform all of its IT tasks with their own people and on their own dime. This would be far too cumbersome and expensive for most businesses. MSPs are what truly allows organizations to leverage the internet to succeed and grow in an interconnected information age. Netrality’s colocation data centers provide the connectivity to networks and cloud on-ramps that MSPs need to provide services to every type of organization across the nation. MSPs that connect at Netrality’s data centers include Connectria, InterVision, Meriplex, and Sungard.
To learn more about providing the best, most worry-free service possible to your customers by joining a first-rate connectivity ecosystem, contact us.