Should Your Business Be Using A Managed Service Provider?
Managed IT services are becoming more widely used. Should your business be considering a Managed IT Service Provider?
Expert Insights / Feb 23, 2021By Joel Witts
Businesses today have never been so reliant on their IT systems working effectively. In the midst of a global pandemic, millions of organizations around the world moved to a remote working model, relying on cloud applications like Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom to communicate with their colleagues and collaborate on projects.
However, IT systems are constantly growing more complex, more expensive and more difficult to manage. It can be tough for enterprises with dedicated IT departments to effectively manage all of their users’ devices – let alone small businesses with already overstretched budgets and no dedicated IT resource.
For this reason, many businesses of all sizes are turning to Managed IT Service Providers (MISPs or MSPs) for help. MSPs can keep your business secure against cyber-attacks, manage your devices, maintain company back-ups and much more.
What Is A Managed Service Provider?
In a nutshell, MSPs are organizations dedicated to managing the network IT infrastructure of their clients. This includes resolving issues with software and devices, protecting against cybersecurity threats, monitoring your organization for security issues, and helping to remediate issues when things go wrong.
Businesses can outsource their IT administration to MSPs, so they no longer have to worry about dealing with IT issues. MSPs will often be made up of technical experts, like technical engineers, cybersecurity analysts and system admins, who are experienced in dealing with IT issues and mitigating threats.
MSPs have an arsenal of technical solutions which can help to provide enhanced protection for organizations. This often includes remote monitoring software to look for security threats, resolve user IT problems and enforce company policies, as well as endpoint and anti-virus protection, web security and email security.
In the past, MSPs would have managed physical IT hardware in your office, but as many applications (such as Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace) are now cloud-based, many MSPs will have clients around the world whom they support with cloud-based IT management and security solutions. Because of this, MSPs are today also often known as Cloud Service Providers.
The Growth Of The MSP Market
The MSP market is experiencing a huge period of growth as more and more businesses invest in them to manage their IT services. According to Research Dive, The Global Managed Services Market is predicted to reach up to $4,10.71 billion by the year 2027 – a growth of 11.1% in the seven-year period.
In the US, nearly two-thirds (64%) of organizations are already using MSPs for one or more IT related functions, according to a 2015 CompTIA study. In the United Kingdom, even more organizations use an MSP, with a whopping 84% of small businesses using some form of managed IT service according to research firm EM360.
These numbers are only likely to grow as IT solutions become more specialized and technical, and the risk of cybersecurity threats like ransomware trickle down further to small organizations.
Why Do Organizations Use A Managed Service Provider?
There are a number of areas in IT management that businesses usually outsource to a managed service provider:
MSPs will often have superior knowledge to protect organizations from cybersecurity threats than most businesses have internally. As the total average cost of cybersecurity attack is estimated at $3.86 million in 2020, it’s absolutely critical that organizations have strong protection against threats in place.
MSPs will often use strong security solutions that can help to protect your organization against cybersecurity attacks. This can include endpoint protection, email security, web protection, remote monitoring, threat detection and response, identity management and more.
These solutions are often complex to set up for those without a strong technical background, making them very difficult to deploy for organizations without dedicated IT resources. In, addition, a growing area for MSPs is in cybersecurity awareness training solutions. Security awareness training provides bite-sized computer-based training programmes and phishing simulations, to help users to spot and report cybersecurity threats.
Remote Monitoring And Management
MSPs can monitor and manage all of your users, to help ensure devices are working properly, software is kept up to date, company policies are being followed and resolve any problems quickly and effectively.
This can also include patch management, managing anti-virus software, enforcing software updates, giving support to users when needed, and providing you with reports about how employees are using work devices.
This is especially important as many employees are working remotely – it’s important to have oversight into work devices to ensure they are being used safely and to keep protections in place to prevent data breaches.
Maintaining Data Back-Ups and Disaster Recovery
A recent poll of MSPs found that Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service was ranked as the number one growing area for managed service provider. Disaster recovery covers a range of services and solutions to ensure that your business can continue to function effectively in the case of data loss, hardware and software failures, or cybersecurity attack.
Disaster recovery is becoming all the more important as so much of our work, communication and data storage is being spread out across multiple SaaS applications and services. New regulations mean data has to be kept protected and secure and MSPs can often help with this, by implementing and maintaining cloud-based backup solutions.
The growth of sophisticated cyberattacks like ransomware has also increased the need for disaster recovery. If a business gets hit with a ransomware attack, it can often lead to systems being unusable for days, if not weeks, and sometimes data can never be recovered. MSPs can help to mitigate the risk of ransomware with cloud-based backups that can restore critical data and documents in case of attack.
Managing corporate communications can be complex and time consuming – especially in the current work environment where many of your employees are most likely working remotely. MSPs can help with managing communications, including data, messaging, video and voice services across your organization.
MSPs will often help provide the right systems, set up applications, provision users and provide ongoing support. They can also help configure your email networks, set up instant messaging applications, and even set up automated customer contact systems to manage telephone and website enquiries.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A Managed Service Provider?
The number one benefit you’ll get from working with an MSP is peace of mind that your software and systems are being fully managed. IT systems are becoming increasingly complex, and dealing with software issues, audits, communications systems and support can be a huge drain on business resources. Passing all of these on to a trusted service provider can help you save valuable time that could be better spent on growing your organization.
Working with an MSP can often be more cost-effective than directly purchasing IT systems, or even buying them through a reseller. This is because support costs are often baked into the monthly fee, and MSPs can often secure discounted rates that are lower than buying through a vendor directly.
Keeping your organization secure against cyberattacks is another important benefit of using an MSP. Cybersecurity threats are growing at an alarming rate, and business have never been more at risk of a data breach, phishing attack or ransomware threat. MSPs can help secure your systems by monitoring your endpoint devices, maintaining security updates and ensuring back-ups are available in the event of a successful cybersecurity attack.
What Are The Challenges Of Using A Managed Service Provider?
The key challenge for some organizations looking for an MSP will be trust. An MSP will take over many important business functions, and some of your systems and company data will be moved into external systems.
This means you need to find an MSP who you can trust, with the technical expertise to keep your critical business systems up and running, and your important data protected. This is especially true as MSPs themselves are increasingly becoming targets of cyber-attacks, as cyber-criminals see them as a single point of failure for multiple small businesses.
For some businesses, cost will be another challenge of using an MSP. If your business is not yet at the size where you require managed services, the cost could be outside of your budget. However, we would encourage organizations to consider the cost of a data breach or security incident, and think of the cost of an MSP as insurance against that outcome.
Do You Need A Managed Service Provider?
If you are thinking of investing in an MSP partner to help you manage your IT services, there are a few things we’d advise you to look for. Firstly, you’ll need a partner with a flexible service model, that can provide support for the times you need it. Secondly, make sure they offer remote monitoring and management, with a disaster recovery model in place. And finally, make sure you have a trustworthy, reliable point of contact, with whom you can talk through issues and build a strong relationship.
Ultimately, the decision as to whether or not you need a managed service provider will come down to your business needs, both now and in the immediate future. Will the cost of an MSP help you to grow your business, or will it place too much of a strain on finances? This question can only be answered by your team, based on your own unique needs.