Managed services and managed service providers (MSPs) function as a proactive manager of information technology (IT) services for businesses. Reactive IT services, which are very common and have existed far longer than MSPs, focus more on addressing an issue or performing a task when a business contacts them to do so. MSPs focus on performing tasks for a business as they are needed.
An MSP can be a generic term, encompassing several different fields of IT offering management services for several different classes of business, but it can also be very specific and concentrated on a particular area of IT, such as network or server management. According to the Management Service Providers Alliance, a group of MSP leaders met more than a decade ago and developed their definition of an MSP:
Managed Services is the proactive management of an IT asset or object, by a third party typically known as an MSP, on behalf of a customer. The operative distinction that sets apart an MSP is the proactive delivery of their service, as compared to reactive IT services, which have been around for decades.
MSPs will typically have a network operation center (NOC), from which managers can monitor a network for a business. They have access to detailed information regarding network status, server status, router and domain name management, and can perform troubleshooting as needed. They can remotely manage the services of a business’ intranet and extranet connections, addressing issues before they become a serious problem, hence the proactivity. They also have a service or help desk in case the business needs to contact the managed service provider regarding an issue, task, or upgrade to their network or other service being covered.
An added benefit of a proactive management service is the more predictable billing cycle for IT services. Instead of having to pay for a service when it’s requested, an MSP has a regular billing cycle that covers most or all services rendered throughout their use.
Whether you own or a part of a business that manages financial records, health care, legal documents, or you work in a specialized industry like energy or manufacturing, IT managed service providers will be able to keep your networks and office systems running smoothly, taking the hassle of managing them yourself out of the equation. MSPs use their proactive nature to ensure that networks have a solid connection and there is no down time for your office intranet, so you can get data where it needs to be fast and reliably.