Last updated on December 1st, 2022

Have you considered outsourcing your IT services to a third-party vendor? Surely you want hassle-free services that contribute to smooth business operations. With their cost-efficient model, managed services are an attractive choice. But now, the crucial question arises: Should you opt for a Managed Service Provider (MSP) or a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP)? These similar-sounding services have confused many people.

The main difference between MSP and MSSP is in their focus areas. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) focus on IT operations and infrastructure management. Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) solely focus on comprehensive cybersecurity services. But even knowing this, picking the right kind of service provider can get tricky.

Let’s first understand who these providers are before figuring out how to choose between the two.

Who is an MSP?

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a third-party specialist that provides IT infrastructure management. MSPs perform various functions, such as:

1. Technical support to in-house teams

2. Remote network monitoring

3. End-user management

4. Optimize business operations

5. Help-desk services

6. Endpoint management

7. Migration to cloud infrastructure

MSPs play an essential part in this competitive digital landscape. Businesses leverage their IT skills and process improvement knowledge to make informed strategic decisions. Over the last few years, the need for MSPs has seen an enormous boost. The pandemic forced SMBs into a sudden digital transformation. In such cases, businesses turned to MSPs for managing remote setups. Their technical expertise, lower costs, zero commitment, and easy scalability have made them sought-after.

Who is an MSSP?

Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) are a specialized subset of managed services that exclusively focus on cybersecurity. They monitor and manage an organization’s security processes, systems, and devices.

Secure Your Organisation From Cyberattacks With Managed Security Services

MSSP services and tools include:

1. Anti-virus, anti-spam, and anti-malware

2. Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)

3. Risk and vulnerability assessment

4. 24/7 monitoring and SOC

5. Reporting, auditing, and compliance

6. Threat detection and intelligence

7. Security awareness training

8. Access and identity management

The evolution of cloud technology has created an increased demand for cloud-based security, boosting the MSSP market. Many businesses prefer outsourcing their security requirements to offset the challenge of hiring skilled and experienced security professionals.

MSP vs MSSP: How to choose between them?

Since the focus areas of MSPs and MSSPs are different, their tools and styles are very different as well.

1. Tools: MSPs employ remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools for their day-to-day IT services. MSSPs utilize security information and event management (SIEM) tools to collect log data from their clients and analyze security events.

2. Technologies: MSPs deliver round-the-clock IT services with the help of network operation centers (NOCs). MSSPs perform 24/7/365 security monitoring via security operations centers (SOCs).

3. Roles: MSPs provide IT services and help with business operations. MSSPs defend against cyberthreats and take remediation action when security events occur.

4. Responsibilities: MSPs are held responsible for increasing business efficiency and productivity. MSSPs are accountable for providing cybersecurity, mitigating risks, assessing vulnerabilities, and ensuring regulatory compliance.

How To Choose Between an MSP and an MSSP?

MSPs and MSSPs are third-party operators and work based on service-level agreements (SLAs). The difference lies in their focus area and not in how they operate. So, to make an informed choice between the two, you need to chart out which area of your organization needs dedicated attention. Is it Operations or Security?

An MSP is the right choice when you need to implement new technologies or provide support to your in-house IT staff. MSPs give comprehensive IT expertise while being easy on your budget. On the other hand, if your objective is mitigating cyberthreats and constructing an effective cybersecurity strategy for your organization, then MSSPs are the way to go.

It’s important to note that an MSP can sometimes perform basic security-related functions. For instance, an MSP will deal with user permissions while working on IT performance issues. But their focus is still on enhancing operational efficiency. Only an MSSP will provide solutions for advanced cyberthreats and all-around security.

You can scale up your current security setup with a layer of advanced IT security expertise. Experienced MSSPs have evolved in tandem with the rise of cybersecurity technology. They apply their experience to diverse client environments.

It is also common to find service providers dealing with general IT support and security services. In its 2021 report, Datto surveyed more than 1,800 managed service providers and found that 99% of MSPs also offer managed security services. It shows that competent MSPs leverage managed security services to provide a complete package of managed IT services.

Managed Service Providers (MSP) and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP) are noticeably different. One isn’t better than the other. It only depends on what your needs are. If you have a strong in-house IT team, you might not need the services of an MSP. If you think your company is not adequately prepared to face cybersecurity challenges, you need an MSSP.

ACE Managed Security Services leverages 14+ years of cloud hosting experience into providing advanced cybersecurity for its SMBs operating on the cloud. With a package of compiled services that include managed SIEM, managed cloud firewall, managed EDR + EPP, and managed email security, your organization will be protected from existing and emerging cyberthreats.

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