What Is an IT Managed Service Provider? (Understanding MSPs)

Wading into the world of IT managed service providers can be daunting. One of the first questions you may have is, “What is an IT managed service provider, exactly?” We’ve created this article to help you get started on your journey and find the best MSP for your organization.

IT managed service providers can bring a wide range of technology solutions to your business. They can help improve the use of resources, make your processes more efficient, and reduce costs for your organization. Managed service providers come in many different forms and offer a wide variety of services to help your business succeed.


What is an IT Managed Service Provider?

An IT managed service provider (MSP) is an outsourced company hired to deliver or remotely manage information technology services. 

This includes the management of services such as:

  • Applications
  • Infrastructure
  • Security
  • Networks


MSPs can take on as much responsibility as your organization needs for services such as application and infrastructure management, which, in hand, improves security. More than that, MSPs offer guidance on the services and technologies your organization needs to satisfy your customers. 

An MSP’s services can be delivered from a client’s on-site location or somewhere else. They can also bundle software, hardware, and cloud services depending on their offerings.


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How Do IT MSPs Work?

MSPs build custom solutions for your organization based on your organization’s needs, processes, size, etc. They will also have a plan for continued maintenance and supporting the services they provide to your organization.

Getting started with an MSP often includes a service-level agreement (SLA). This agreement sets expectations between you and your MSP for important services such as:

  • Metrics for the effectiveness of the process
  • Who will be your point-of-contact
  • Which products and services will be delivered


Once these and other factors have been determined, your MSP will start a full analysis of the outsourcing process. This analysis helps them identify ways to:

  • Improve the use of resources
  • Make processes more efficient
  • Reduce costs 
  • Elevate cybersecurity


This analysis is also important since it identifies problems in your processes. These issues may have gone unnoticed or you simply may not have been able to fix them on your own. This analysis also serves as the foundation for your custom IT solutions.


Benefits of Managed Services for IT

There are more benefits of day-to-day management services than we can cover in a single blog post. However, some of their most common benefits include:

  •  Providing expertise
  • 24/7 network monitoring
  • Enhancing security
  • Covering IT staff shortages
  • Being cost-effective
  • Ensuring business continuity


When a problem arises, it helps to have a reputable MSP providing expertise to help you navigate the situation. With 24/7 network monitoring, you have access to tools that give you system visibility and cloud management access. Enhanced security from an MSP can include secure software, physical security for servers, and awareness training for your team.

An MSP can help with covering IT staffing shortages by outsourcing tasks to its team of experts. They thrive at being cost-effective, with many moving from project-based (break/fix) models to monthly subscription business models. MSPs are also essential for ensuring business continuity as they are critical for your disaster recovery planning.


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Types of MSPs 

MSPs aren’t only for large enterprises. They come in many different types with options available for small and medium-sized businesses depending on their needs. Looking at an example can be helpful when deciding the needs of your business. One of our greatest strengths at TenHats is our scalability. We can work with companies of any size along their IT journey.

Imagine that you’re evaluating MSPs based on the size of their target customers and the amount of responsibility they assume. In this case, you can organize them as:

  • High-level MSPs
  • Staffing legacy MSPs
  • Pure-play MSPs


High-level MSPs outsource as much of your IT processes as necessary. They can range from small to large providers offering a broad range of services to their clients. 

Staffing legacy MSPs can help fill in knowledge gaps as older employees leave by training new ones in much-needed skills. However, they can also involve a lot of red tap and may even result in a lack of new knowledge for organizations. 

These staffing MSPs are ideal for mid-level and Fortune 500 companies. Like high-level MSPs, they usually provide a broad range of services such as:

  • Monitoring
  • Reporting
  • Installation
  • Upgrades


Pure-play MSPs tend to be smaller providers that emphasize application performance and monitoring networks. They have their own native services that focus on alerts and reporting.


Services They Offer

MSPs can also be organized based on the services they offer. In the beginning, they mainly specialize in the remote monitoring and management (RMM) of networks and servers. Since then, providers have broadened their scope to distinguish themselves from each other.


Depending on the provider, these services may include:

  • Monitoring
  • Remote support
  • Proactive support
  • Centralized management
  • Scheduled maintenance
  • Easy billing


Monitoring provided by MSPs allows you to track the status of your applications, network devices, servers, and websites in real time. With remote support, you receive cloud-based software to help remotely troubleshoot technical problems and support your devices. MSPs offering proactive support help you stay in front of network or device problems that may occur.

MSPs that offer centralized management include a management console to direct your:

  • Complex networks
  • Patch management software
  • Remote monitoring
  • Security software


Scheduled maintenance provided by an MSP includes regularly scheduled network maintenance for your organization. With easy billing, MSPs use a billing management system for budgeting, invoicing, and payments. 

Are you looking for an IT MSP to support your organization? Contact us today to start a conversation!


What is an IT managed service provider? They provide a wide range of essential technology solutions for your organization. Providers can help improve how you use resources, streamline your process, and lower costs for your company. There are many different types of managed service providers offering a broad range of services to help your organization succeed.

In 2016, TenHats built the region’s first purpose-built colocation data center in over 20 years. Located in Knoxville, TN, our data center can serve any organization in East Tennessee and beyond. With our team’s IT experience, we provide a lot more than simply protected data. When you call us, you talk to a real IT expert. Connect with our team about our data center today!

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