Understanding the differences between MSPs and MSSPs

Understanding the differences between MSPs and MSSPs

Business owners face a variety of challenges, one of which is making sure that their IT systems are managed and have proper security protections in place. What makes managing IT particularly daunting is the specialized expertise needed, including network infrastructure management, system administration, and cybersecurity. It takes a lot of resources, skills, and knowledge to manage a business's technology well.

Organizations often seek the assistance of third-party experts such as managed IT services providers (MSPs) and managed security services providers (MSSPs). Both of these organizations offer invaluable support for managing and protecting IT systems, but there are fundamental differences between the two, and one may be better suited for your organization's needs. And in some cases, it makes sense to partner up with both an MSP and a separate MSSP!

What are MSPs?

MSPs are usually the first stop for businesses in need of additional IT services. MSPs focus on delivering comprehensive IT support and proactive maintenance services, with their main objective being to ensure their clients’ IT systems run smoothly and securely. MSPs provide a wide array of services, such as network infrastructure setup, cloud migrations, system monitoring and maintenance, software installations, patch management, hardware procurement and repairs, help desk assistance, business continuity, cybersecurity, project assistance, tools for internal IT teams to manage their systems more effectively, and more.

You should consider partnering with an MSP if you need:

  • Proactive maintenance – An MSP’s primary objective is to minimize downtime and ensure systems are kept up to date. An MSP will set up tools to monitor your systems for issues and either address the problem directly or notify your internal IT team to minimize the impact on your business operations. MSPs can set up policies to routinely install the latest software updates and patches as soon as they're released and vetted as well as perform regular maintenance of hardware components, etc.
  • General IT management – If your primary focus is maintaining and managing your IT infrastructure, including networks, servers, workstations, and software applications, an MSP can provide the necessary support. Top MSPs excel at managing the entire IT stack and can even provide additional services such as cloud migration and cybersecurity. If you have an internal IT member or team, an MSP can provide backup to your team, higher-level support, or free up your team to work on more valuable projects.
  • Remote and on-site support – Most MSPs are on standby around the clock, so you can simply call them whenever you have an IT problem. They typically utilize remote monitoring and management software, which monitors your systems and sends it to the MSP's network operations center (NOC) where their technicians can remotely troubleshoot and fix issues. But if the problem is far more nuanced and complex, MSPs can also send their experts to your premises for on-site assistance.
  • IT consulting – What's great about getting help from an MSP is they can provide expert advice and consulting on IT strategies. This includes guidance on system upgrades, cloud migrations, hardware purchases, software licenses, cybersecurity measures, and more.
  • Cost-effective expertise – Outsourcing IT management to an MSP can be a cost-effective solution compared to hiring more internal IT resources. MSPs offer expertise, round-the-clock support, and access to advanced technologies, all for a flat monthly fee. This reduces the burden of staffing, training, and infrastructure investment.

What are MSSPs?

MSSPs specialize in all things cybersecurity and don’t typically provide general IT support. MSSPs focus on providing comprehensive security services to mitigate risks and help provide additional protection for your critical business data. MSSPs employ advanced security technologies, threat intelligence, and skilled security professionals to defend against cyberattacks. They often employ a combination of hardware, software, and cloud-based security solutions to protect networks, applications, and data from unauthorized access, malware, ransomware, and other security threats.

Choose an MSSP when you require:

  • In-depth security consulting – MSSPs conduct vulnerability assessments and audits to identify potential threats and weaknesses in your systems. They'll then use their security expertise to recommend solutions and strategies that can fully protect your business.
  • Holistic cybersecurity measures – If your business deals with sensitive data and mission-critical systems, MSSPs can provide powerful solutions to safeguard your assets against increasingly sophisticated cyberthreats. They can implement solutions such as next-generation firewalls, email filtering, mobile device management, and security awareness training.
  • Compliance support – Highly regulated industries, such as finance and healthcare, are often required to adhere to data compliance initiatives like HIPAA and PCI DSS. Certified MSSPs are well versed in these regulations and can ensure regulatory compliance by implementing the necessary security requirements, such as data encryption, role-based access controls, and data backup systems.
  • Proactive threat detection – If your business lacks the resources to continuously monitor your network for potential security breaches, an MSSP can fill that gap. They employ the latest threat intelligence database, behavior-based network monitoring systems, and skilled security professionals to detect any signs of a threat as quickly as possible. MSSPs can even monitor the dark web to detect any leaked data that could potentially harm your business.
  • Incident response – MSSPs can devise an incident response plan for quickly identifying, isolating, eliminating, and recovering from cyberattacks to minimize business disruption. They'll even set up systems to prevent data loss such as cloud backups and other business continuity solutions.

Overall, the decision between MSPs and MSSPs comes down to the specific needs of your business. Mature MSPs can provide a lot of cybersecurity services, but if your needs are more complex, then it may make sense to partner with an MSSP to help you manage your cybersecurity. Whether you're looking for proactive IT management services or advanced cybersecurity, you can count on Fidelis. We have solutions to keep your systems running smoothly, efficiently, and securely. Call us today to learn more about our services.

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