MSP vs. MSSP: Know the Difference

It can be difficult for small- and medium-sized business owners and management to know the difference between a managed service provider (MSP) and a managed security service provider (MSSP). A business owner’s focus is usually on customers, products and services, and business operations. With the speed at which technology changes, it can be daunting to keep up with technology, as well as the management and security needed for an organization’s network. Cloud systems, network security, business and customer data, the vast amount of available business software can become overwhelming. 

For small businesses, managing the network system and keeping it protected can quickly get pushed down the priority list when the focus needs to be on customers, sales, and business operations. There are resources available, but understanding the need is the first step. An MSP assists with IT administration, and MSSP focuses on IT Security.

First let’s understand the acronyms. 

What is an MSP?

Small businesses usually use an MSP to manage their IT systems and network. While MSPs offer a variety of services they typically focus on the customer’s network, application and infrastructure in order to provide regular support. 

More specifically, an MSP can assist with data storage and backup, help desk support, on-site assistance, security patches for software and applications, software upgrades, as well as user-access and permissions. 

For businesses that rely on e-commerce, ensuring that your systems are running seamlessly without downtime is extremely important. MSPs can help prevent system downtime by keeping the software updated and testing any new applications… before rolling them out. 

What is an MSSP?

An MSSP is an IT partner who works with clients to provide security for their network system. 

Their services can include deploying, configuring, or managing:

  • Antivirus software
  • Firewalls
  • VPNs 
  • Access management, and 
  • 24/7 monitoring of systems to detect and respond to any unauthorized activity before any damage occurs

Many MSSPs also meet compliance standards for federal and state government requirements.  

MSP and MSSP Differences 

The significant difference is that MSP provides administration security while MSSP responds to IT threats and prevents them.

Managed Service Providers operate from a Network Operation Center (NOC) where they monitor client operations and assist with day-to-day IT operations that include:  

  • Monitoring and event management
  • Troubleshooting
  • Managing deployments
  • Installing and configuring on-premise or cloud platforms
  • Installing patch updates
  • Backup and restore systems

Managed Security Service Providers operate around the clock from a Security Operations Center (SOC), where they analyze the network and cloud-based infrastructure to identify and resolve potential issues. Some tasks include: 

  • Maintaining security data logs and records of regular and irregular trends
  • Ensuring all systems and processes are up-to-date and compliant with laws and regulations
  • Identifying risks and develop responses to minimize risks
  • Preventing third-party access to the data and allow customization to access

When to Use an MSP

There’s not necessarily a clear-cut moment when you know you need an MSP. Every company is different and has different needs as it grows. An MSP can provide all services, or just a few, if that’s all that’s needed. An MSP can act as a company’s IT team or be an extension of one and provide support when needed. 

So how can you tell when the time is right? Here are some signals that it might be time to consider using an MSP. 

  1. IT tasks impact normal business operations 
  2. Necessary skill level required to perform tasks doesn’t exist
  3. IT tasks are not getting done because there’s nobody to do them or there’s not enough time
  4. High turnover in IT department
  5. The cost of partnering with an outside team is better for the budget

When to Use an MSSP

When it comes to security and protecting your network against cyber attacks, an MSSP provides a higher level of protection that an MSP can’t offer. However, some MSPs provide both network administration, as well as cyber security monitoring and management. Using an MSSP provides some business advantages, so deciding if it’s time to partner with an MSSP, you should ask yourself if the company is ready to: 

  • Reduce costs and improve efficiency
  • Spend more time focusing on business operations
  • Access to IT professionals with advanced skills and tools
  • Scale the IT as required by the project
  • Receive fast response times
  • Have peace of mind

Next Steps

Since MSPs administer basic security measures, small- and medium-sized businesses may start with an MSP and scale according to need project requirements. If your organization requires comprehensive IT and cyber security management coverage, you should consider using both an MSP and an MSSP. When it comes to the security of your network, don’t cut corners. If the budget is the holdup, work with your service provider to find what action will provide the most benefit at that time. Remember, it’s not an all-or-nothing relationship. It’s a partnered approach to give you the best service and protection for your business. 

Visual Edge specializes in managed I.T. services and security, cloud computing, and print/copy solutions for businesses across the U.S., including remote offices. The company has more than 30 years of technology service with a national network of expert engineers. Request your no-obligation assessment today and get a free dark web analysis.