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A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a firm that facilitates the remote administration of a particular business or technology. Generally, a technician or an IT professional will be appointed by a hosting company to provide support for the web hosting services they offer. An MSP is hired when the web hosting company wants to reduce their operational costs. Managed service providers can offer various types of IT solutions which include network security, database management, email service, desktop software, security, web site development, system maintenance and upgrades. For small businesses, a MSP may work as a sole provider who offers the services of an independent consultant. However, most of the Managed Service Providers outsource some of their tasks such as the server management to a web host company.

The primary advantage of hiring a Managed Service Provider is that you will not have to maintain a complete IT team on your own. The Managed Service Provider will manage the daily operations of the servers. For small businesses, a single Managed Service Provider may be all that is needed to get their data in order. With a complete managed solution, the Small Business Owner need only to ensure that the Managed Service Provider will implement security measures to protect sensitive data.

Another main advantage of a Managed Service Provider is the lower capital investment required by the Managed Service Provider. Setting up a physical infrastructure requires large investments which may become expensive over time. The Managed Service Provider also handles the high administrative cost involved with maintaining a large network. This helps the Small Business Owner to save on the cost of employing a full-time staff to take care of the IT infrastructure of the organization.

Since most small businesses are typically only run on a part-time basis, the cost of hiring a Managed Service Provider is especially helpful for these types of organizations. A managed services provider offers the benefits of a full-time staff but operates at a much lower price. For medium-sized and larger businesses, the benefits of having a Managed Service Provider far outweigh the cost. For these larger enterprises, a small business owner may find it cost-prohibitive to hire their own IT team and operate from their office or garage.

A third advantage to working with a managed services provider is the increased efficiency that is experienced by many companies when utilizing a managed services provider. Because the IT department of the organization is no longer in charge of protecting sensitive data, they can focus their attention on improving the day-to-day operations of the company. This allows the IT department to hire efficient professionals who understand the ins and outs of data recovery. By focusing on their core responsibilities, the IT department will be able to better serve their clients.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of working with a managed services provider is the decreased costs involved with maintaining a fully staffed office. By eliminating the need for employees to physically secure their data, companies can free up funds that can be used elsewhere within the organization. For small businesses, especially, this can mean the elimination of office supplies, equipment and more. By using remote management, companies can avoid a need for a large number of office staff members as well. The ability to operate completely autonomously gives these companies tremendous flexibility.

However, perhaps the greatest question many small and mid-size businesses have is what is the difference between working with a managed service provider and outsourcing? There are several key differences between the two options that will prove vital to all Managed Service Provider customers. For one, outsourcing involves the loss of control over the entire process. With an on-site service provider, the customer retains direct control over all of the functions of their data center. The primary reason most companies choose to outsource is the ability to reduce overhead associated with maintaining multiple data centers. However, while an outsourcing service may cut down on some of the initial costs, it may also lead to lost control of the operations of your data center.

Additionally, when working with a third-party service provider, many organizations risk exposure to hackers. While most managed services provide security measures, any third-party that has access to the network containing a company’s confidential information could open many layers of backdoor doors leading to the source of the problem. In addition, a poorly-designed IT setup or a lack of critical network services can lead to a more-than-minor problem such as a denial of service attack, which requires a coordinated response from every employee within the organization.