5 min read

What Is A Managed Service Provider (MSP)? Your Go-to Guide

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Blog posts are great. But getting to know the real humans who will be helping you is priceless.

You probably found this article because you Googled something like “What is a managed service provider?” or “What are MSP services for small businesses?”

If that’s the case, we hope the following blog answers your questions. After all, we wrote it because we want to help, and we’d never want you to leave disappointed.

But sometimes you just need to talk to a person and get a feel for whether something is or isn’t right for you. As we’ll discuss later, choosing an MSP can be a weighty decision, and we want to help you find the perfect partnership. BEMO is a full-service IT team that offers even more than the standard MSP service packages, but if we’re just not meant to be, we’ll understand. We’ll still wish you the best as you ride off into the sunset with some other MSP.

So if there’s anything we haven’t covered here—or you want to talk to someone face-to-face—don’t be afraid to reach out!

Dedicated and friendly IT help is just a quick introductory meeting away!

 

What is a managed service provider? Here’s what to know

Back in the day, before “the cloud” referred to anything besides those puffy white things in the sky, most small companies relied on one or a handful of tech-savvy employees to solve their IT problems.

When the technology got too complicated (or the workload too heavy), businesses turned to managed service providers (MSPs) to take care of their IT tasks.

An MSP would install and configure software, help employees get new hardware up and running, and generally make sure no employee spent the afternoon sweating in their office, trying to recover the 150-page document they’d just deleted after spending all week putting it together.

In short, the MSP took the place of an in-house IT team if a company didn’t have the resources or desire to hire employees specifically for that purpose.

That’s still essentially what MSPs do today, except there’s a new complication in town. When the cloud became a thing, suddenly every company seemed to be subscribing to one SaaS service or another. Data storage, messaging, and other transactions take place largely on remote servers now, instead of on a server in the company’s office building. Many businesses have moved their operations entirely to the cloud, and others want to follow suit as soon as possible.

Companies without IT departments still need someone to handle their IT needs, but now, half of those needs arise from cloud-based servers instead of on-premises or in a local data center as they always had before.

To support this major migration, the cloud solution provider (CSP) was born. CSPs help companies manage cloud-based applications such as SalesForce, AWS, and Microsoft 365.

However, do you see a major problem with this arrangement? If your MSP organization handles the local problems—like printer issues and the dreaded Blue Screen of Death—and your CSP service just manages your 365 subscription and other cloud services, you’d have to hire two separate companies just to cover your bases. As a small business, it’s hard enough to find one good third-party IT service, let alone two. So, what on Earth do you do if you need help with both?*

As the owner of a small or medium-sized business, you probably don’t have the budget to keep an MSP and a CSP on the hook all the time. And even if you did, there might be a gap between the services both organizations offer, somewhere in that gray area between cloud and local service management.

For example, let’s say your messaging system suddenly refuses to send messages to some recipients but not others. Is this a problem with your network settings? Do you have something blocked by an improperly configured firewall? Or could it be an error on the part of your cloud messaging provider? You’d have to waste time on the phone with both IT companies, or worse, get shuttled back and forth between them.

What you need is a “best of both worlds” approach. You need a company that can function as both an MSP and a CSP, for the price of one. And ideally, you want a company that works exclusively with small to medium-sized businesses like yours.

*(Have you guessed the answer yet?)

We at BEMO believe that small and medium-sized businesses shouldn’t have to deal with that gap in IT help. It’s not fair to expect you to have the same resources as an enterprise corporation that doesn’t have to think twice about calling in services from an MSP and a CSP whenever they want.

So, for our purposes, let’s define a managed service provider as a company that manages all your IT needs, no matter whether the issues happen in your building or in the cloud.

So does that mean BEMO is an MSP business?

The answer is a resounding, “Sort of!”

BEMO is technically an MSSP: a managed security service provider.

That is, we do everything a great remote MSP and CSP should do, but we also specialize in cybersecurity. You can essentially consider us your one-stop shop for anything that goes wrong with your hardware, your software, your local stuff, your cloud stuff, and all the fixins in between. However, for the sake of simplicity, you can call us an MSP if you’d like.

What are some MSP services you can expect from a full-service IT and cybersecurity company such as BEMO?

Here’s what we mean when we say we provide “full-service” IT:

What is a managed service provider - we can help you migrate your business to the cloud

First of all, we can help you migrate your business to the cloud if you haven’t made the leap yet. We’ll get everything set up and running smoothly, so you can just hop on over and keep working as normal.

What is a managed service provider - manage everything IT-related within your company

Secondly, we’ll manage everything IT-related within your company. If your software needs an update, we’ll handle it. If your SaaS services require configuration and upkeep, we’ll take care of it. And when you try the wrong password too many times and get locked out of all your accounts, we’ll fix it for you in a flash.

What is a managed service provider - we provide cybersecurity services

Last but not least, we provide cybersecurity services. This is an area most MSPs don’t touch, which is why we make the distinction that we’re actually an MSSP. We not only set up security defenses and make sure they’re configured properly, but we also monitor them for you 24/7 and act on any intrusions before they can do damage.

What should you keep in mind when shopping around for an MSP?

Hiring an MSP is a lot like choosing a relationship partner. Just because they drive a Ferrari and look amazing in formal wear doesn’t mean they’re marriage material.

 

Think about this:

  • Who do you want to associate with? Just like your relationship partner has access to your life, your home, and your friends and family, your MSP will have access to your business, your private files, and your network. The wrong MSP (such as one that doesn’t take cybersecurity seriously) could put your livelihood and even your financial information at risk.
  • Are their values similar to yours? Don’t choose an MSP that prefers to work with international corporations if you can count your employees on one or two hands. The MSP will not likely value your company’s needs over their larger clients, and you could be left to fend for yourself when you need it most.
  • Are they willing to build a relationship? When it’s 3 a.m. and your computer crashes, you don’t want to spend half an hour navigating a robotic voicemail system and pleading to just talk to a bleeping human being. You want to be able to reach an associate you know and trust, who you’ve worked with before, and who knows your business and your system like it’s their own.

After a few months, when the new relationship energy wears off and the honeymoon ends, you want to end up with someone you can sit down at the table with, have a great conversation, and know that they’re always there to protect you. Just, you know, remotely.

Why does BEMO choose to cover more ground than a regular MSP company?

We’re glad you asked.

It all comes from our endless love for and devotion to small businesses (Medium-sized businesses, you’re pretty great, too!).

Traditionally, the only ways you, as a small business owner, could receive IT help (besides hiring your own full-time staff) were either a) contract with a major firm that caters predominantly to large enterprises or b) take the whole computer to the local repair shop and hope that Jimmy knows enough to get rid of your virus infestation but not enough to copy your top-secret company files.

Until BEMO, there really wasn’t a middle ground.

The same can be said for companies searching for the perfect combination of MSP and CSP, with a healthy dose of cybersecurity thrown in. We happily take care of everything you need (just ask our happy customers!), so you don’t have to worry about juggling three different service providers just to make sure your bases are covered.

Ready to learn more? Let’s have a conversation.

Leave us a comment!

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