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What is a Managed Service Provider?

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) provides IT solutions to companies of all sizes. An ideal solution for small to mid-sized businesses, a large corporation, or an international organization, a MSP helps to provide IT help in a cost-effective manner. The basic aim of an MSP is to keep the organization’s systems running efficiently, and at the same time, the company will be saved from the hassles of maintaining its own IT systems. With such benefits, it becomes imperative for organizations to choose the right MSP, which suits their needs.

A managed service provider (MSP) is a business which provides outsourced technical support to various clients. These clients could be individuals, corporations, and government agencies. Such outside companies can work along with the customer business to ensure that their new technical solutions and infrastructure are working effectively and smoothly for their business operations. But before any sort of collaboration can take place, a business must first establish an interface between the provider and the organization. This is where the managed service providers play a crucial role in the success of an organization.

The term managed services was first used during the early days of IT. At that time, it referred to a company that provided outside IT services, which were contracted out to third-party companies to provide IT solutions on behalf of the company. This form of outsourcing IT was used widely by small to medium-sized enterprises, as they did not have the budgets to invest in maintaining and upgrading their own network infrastructure. These organizations were able to get the best of both the worlds – an efficient and reliable IT system coupled with affordable third-party hosting. The trend has however changed over time, and now MSPs provide managed services not only to small-to-medium sized enterprises but also to large organizations of all sizes. A large MSP offers managed services not just to its clients but also to other companies and organizations interested in availing its managed services.

There are a number of benefits of working with an MSP, including:

  • Reduces operational and managerial costs
  • Ensures effective deployment of applications
  • Reduces IT maintenance costs
  • Provides a uniform infrastructure for all users across the organization
  • Provides a single access and e-mail address for all employees across the organization
  • Gives the company a unified communication platform for its employees.

While these benefits might appeal to organizations looking to save on their IT costs, there are a few disadvantages of hiring an in-house MSP as well. Below are some of them:

Companies usually contract with an in-house MSP for the purpose of deploying their own in-house developed communications software, which may include a wide variety of communication protocols and technological systems such as Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes. Such software and programs are normally very costly to acquire, hire and maintain and therefore are usually deployed by MSPs on their own. Some companies, however, might decide to try and save costs by renting such software and programs from an MSP instead. However, since an MSP is not an established enterprise-standards-based supplier of software solutions, the quality and the security of the software typically do not meet enterprise expectations.

Organizations that decide to go with managed service providers also have a number of technical problems to face. In addition to the time and resources already discussed, it also involves additional expenses for training management systems integrators who will have to train all the employees who will be working with the new technology. Not to mention that it involves additional training costs for the employees of the managed services provider as well, apart from the salaries of the in-house MSP employees. Such payroll could then also be affected by inflation. In addition to this, it takes much longer time for the new technology to reach all the places where it is initially deployed.

For enterprises that cannot afford the costs involved in acquiring, maintaining and deploying IT systems, there is another alternative available: remote access controllers. With remote access, a minimal amount of training is needed to use the new technologies, and a number of vendors provide training programs for their clients. Remote access controllers are typically used by small, medium and even large-scale businesses because they do not need any special equipment to install, manage and deploy remote access software. Remote access controllers can be configured with various security levels, and they are often embedded with hosted CRM applications so that businesses may also have access to their CRM data.

To conclude, there is no general view on what the future holds for managed services. Since the industry is constantly changing, the needs of Managed Service Providers are likely to do so as well. It remains to be seen how the changes will impact the Managed Service Providers.