Skip to the main content.

4 min read

MSP vs. MSSP: What's The Difference?

Featured Image

“You know what I need more of in my life? Confusing acronyms!”

Said no one ever.

Do your eyes gloss over whenever an article throws together every combination of letters known to man and expects you to follow along? Here’s a quick overview of MSP vs. MSSP vs. CSP:

Managed service providers (MSPs) provide run-of-the-mill IT help (for instance, if your printer never seems to stay on the network and that little operating system upgrade notification has been plaguing you for months).

Managed security service providers (MSSPs) do the same thing, but they also offer expertise in cybersecurity, so you can make sure you’re not rolling out the red carpet for hackers.

Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs) offer help with cloud-related software, platforms, and physical infrastructure, but they don’t cover most of the local office IT issues that take place away from the cloud.

But what happens if you want all three? What if your IT department (if you have one at all) is struggling to keep up, you need to bolster your cybersecurity defenses, and you often run into frustrating issues with your cloud services?

That’s when you know you need BEMO.

BEMO is a one-stop-shop so you never have to even think about IT stuff again. Think of us like the club sandwich of small business IT providers; we manage to fit several delicious layers (MSP, MSSP, and CSP) into one convenient package that you can enjoy however you like.

(Pickle not included.)

Schedule a meeting here.


MSP vs. MSSP: Let’s Take A Deeper Look

If you’re searching for IT help, you probably fall into one of two camps.


  1. You’ve come across some MSP and MSSP companies, but you weren’t sure what either of them do, let alone which might be best for your company. You’re still in the early stages of looking for IT help, so you’ve cheerfully Googled “What is an MSP?” and “What is an MSSP?” to fill in some of the blanks.


  1. You’ve done some research and noticed that the vast majority of MSPs and MSSPs don’t even work with small to medium-sized businesses (or if they do, they’re so expensive as to be laughable). So the whole thing seems moot, and you’ve gone through each stage of grief at least once over the thought of continuing to handle all your IT issues on your own (or hiring a full-timer for $50k+ per year). But you haven’t given up yet, so you wound up here.

Many small to medium-sized companies struggle to find comprehensive IT help at an affordable price. But, whether you realize it yet or not, you’ve already stumbled across the finish line. (More on that later!)

First, dive into our definitions a little further.

What is an MSP?

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) provides third-party IT services for companies on a contract basis. The following list isn’t comprehensive, but it’ll give you an idea of the services you can expect when you hire an MSP:

  • Management of employee computers and mobile devices
  • Server upkeep for on-premises servers
  • Network setup and management
  • Data backups
  • Management of business-related applications
  • Installation and configuration of software
  • Technical troubleshooting

Essentially, if you’re having problems with your work computer, network, server, or software, you could dial up your MSP and let them know you’re about one error message away from quitting your job and moving to Guatemala. Since your MSP acts as a remote IT department, you can go home and pour a much-needed cocktail, comfy in the knowledge that all your tech is in good hands.

What is an MSSP?

The difference between an MSP and an MSSP starts to make sense as soon as we explain what the extra “S'' stands for: Managed Security Service Provider. So, what is a managed security service provider? Simple! Think of an MSSP as an MSP with IT security added in.

An MSSP takes care of all the IT tasks an MSP would cover, and it also comes with cybersecurity setup, installation, and ongoing threat monitoring. MSSPs will not only guide you toward the correct cybersecurity defenses, such as an MFA solution and a firewall, but they should also install and configure any cybersecurity software and ensure it works properly.

But setup is only half the battle. A good MSSP will monitor your event logs every day to detect possible threats, alert you to any security breaches right away, and fill in the gaps in your defenses so those breaches won’t become a problem. (That's what we do at BEMO, to take a proactive and preemptive approach towards security. You can learn all about our monitoring and alerting services by clicking here).

For the sake of clarity, we should include that a cloud solution provider (CSP) is yet another type of IT service provider, with a focus on (you’ll never guess from the name) cloud solutions. Whereas most MSPs traditionally handle IT issues that happen in the office — when your computer breaks down, for example, or you need to install and configure some complex software — a CSP focuses exclusively on managing cloud services such as Microsoft 365.

How do I know if my business needs help from an MSP or an MSSP?

The answer to this question is simple:

You pretty much always want to opt for an MSSP over an MSP. Unless you happen to be a cybersecurity expert (or you have one as a full-time staff member), choosing an IT service provider that doesn’t prioritize your company’s security is like picking up a metal umbrella and doing a rain dance in the middle of a thunderstorm. Sure, you’ll probably be fine the first few times. But eventually, you’re going to be very not fine, and you’ll wish you’d given safety a bit more consideration.

So, the answer is to hire an MSSP. Simple in principle, tricky in practice.

For one thing, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing the best IT help for your company. And for another, the vast majority of MSSPs (and MSPs, for that matter) prefer taking on huge clients rather than small ones.

With a regular MSSP or MSP, a large enterprise will almost always take priority over your smaller business, leaving you to swing in the breeze while their IT team handles matters they deem “more important.” And that’s if you can stomach the enterprise-level price tag in the first place.

As if that’s not frustrating enough, that expensive, megacorp-loving MSP likely won’t be able to help with your cloud-related issues. For that, you’d need to hire a separate CSP and just hope that the two companies will cover enough gaps so you can keep running your business smoothly.

These demoralizing realizations understandably cause small business owners to feel overwhelmed. Until BEMO came along, there wasn’t really a great solution for small or medium-sized businesses that needed third-party IT support. You could either take your computer down to a local shop (think “Geek Squad”) or you could pay a hefty price to an MSP for the privilege of being largely ignored.

BEMO has changed the game.

Skip The MSP vs. MSSP Battle And Just Call BEMO.

What makes BEMO different? We’re an MSSP — we provide top-notch security services in addition to all the managed services you’d expect from a traditional MSP — and we also perform the functions of a CSP. Better still, we love providing high-quality IT help exclusively to small and medium-sized businesses.

So you can stop struggling with what seems like an endless search for quality IT help, and just reach out to us. Schedule a meeting here to get started.

Leave us a comment!