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As both users and service providers look for ways to add value, they’re taking a good look at managed service providers (MSPs). Because different MSPs define the term in different ways, their services can range from the very limited to the very broad. There are literally hundreds of providers who characterize themselves as MSPs. All of them remotely manage network infrastructures on an on-going basis, with some extending their service offerings to providing and managing application infrastructures as well.

The Three Types of Managed Service Providers (MSP)

Today, three distinct categories of MSPs have emerged, each with their own unique value proposition. They each offer specific services, including the amount of responsibility taken for a client’s business, the size of their target customer and the scope of the managed service provider itself.

  • Pure Play MSPs tend to have a smaller worldwide footprint and define themselves more as a management service provider than a managed service provider. They focus on monitoring network and applications performance and take little, if any, responsibility for a client’s business. Activities are usually limited to reporting and alerts when websites experience problems.
  • Staffing-legacy MSPs typically have separate MSP and staffing divisions which operate independently of each other. These mid-level MSPs take great pride in offering as wide a range of services as possible, and they take greater responsibility for a client’s business. For example, if a client’s website goes down, they work to help restore its functionality. In addition to monitoring and reporting, they offer software patches and installations and upgrades. Many mid-level MSPs are actually quite large, with some even targeting Fortune 500 companies.
  • High-level MSPs offer true one-stop shopping, allowing their clients to outsource their entire IT operations if they so desire. They also offer the lower levels of service that mid-level MSPs do, as well as a full range of long-established managed services. The level of responsibility available to their clients largely depends on a client’s budget. Both small and large providers make up this category of MSPs, with each serving a different faction of user.

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