The IT industry loves acronyms. Unless you’re embedded in it, that can become confusing quickly. So, what’s the difference between MSPs (Managed Services Providers) and MSSPs (Managed Security Services Providers)? In this blog, we’ll share what makes each unique, and when you should engage one over the other – or both. Let’s take a closer look at what makes IT providers MSP vs. MSSP.

What does an MSP do?

A Managed Services Provider, or MSP, deals primarily with managed IT services. This can be anything from help desk to remote support, or more comprehensive IT strategy and support, like fully managed solutions for completely outsourced IT. If your systems are in the cloud, or you’re considering moving to a cloud environment in the future, you’ll need an MSP that also functions as a cloud services provider.

MSPs typically offer various support models. ADNET has both co-managed and fully managed IT services to help organizations of all sizes, across all industries. With co-managed support, we provide extra help where needed – usually as a supplement to internal IT or in-house staff. For fully managed clients, ADNET acts as the entire IT department, supporting the environment and team members as an extension of their organization.

While Managed IT support varies from provider to provider, some typical inclusions are system monitoring, preventative maintenance, system updates and patching, help desk support, documentation and tracking, and more.

What does an MSSP do?

A Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) focuses exclusively on cybersecurity. Managed Security Services can include things like endpoint detection & response (EDR) solutions, proactive monitoring and alerting, event logging, and preventative training for a company’s employees. While some MSPs offer limited Managed Security Services, typically an MSSP will have more advanced, comprehensive offerings.

MSSPs usually leverage a SOC, or Security Operations Center, to provide 24x7x365 monitoring and alerting, along with analysis depending on the services being offered. A SOC can be in-house, or outsourced to a partner, but should be deeply embedded in your MSSPs processes and services.

In addition to providing Managed Security Services, they may offer more advanced cybersecurity services such as incident response, security risk assessments, penetration testing, security awareness training, and more. The depth and breadth of services varies from organization to organization. It’s important that you do due diligence when choosing a dedicated cybersecurity partner.

“The level of knowledge and insight a TRUE security organization needs to have requires constant learning and focus. That’s something that can’t be easily shared with other MSP services. When you’re able to dedicate yourself to cybersecurity – or Managed IT if you’re an MSP, that’s when true expertise develops. You’ll get a better result from an MSSP fully able to concentrate on advanced cybersecurity working alongside an MSP focused on providing high-quality managed IT services – period.” Tim Weber, Vice President of Channel Growth, Cyber74

MSP vs. MSSP: do I need both?

Yes! Most organizations would benefit from having both an MSP and MSSP as a partner. While there is some overlap in services and skills, MSPs are specialized to help ensure your IT environment remains efficient and effective. MSSPs focus on keeping your systems secure.

MSPs focus on keeping your IT systems operational, functional and optimized. MSSPs help reduce risk through proactive security services like monitoring and alerting. Having both types of experts monitoring and maintaining your environment ensures that your IT is both functional and protected.

How MSPs and MSSPs work together

MSPs and MSSPs complement each other’s work, especially when they work closely with each other in a strategic partnership.

“The relationship and interaction between MSP and MSSP is critical. While the MSSP is focused on the security aspects of the system, the MSP is looking at the systems from that holistic standpoint – seeing the big picture as it relates to the company’s business and goals. Working in alignment ensures that security isn’t being sacrificed.” Tim Weber, Vice President of Channel Growth, Cyber74

Top 5 Benefits of partnering with an MSP, MSSP, TSP, CSP…

  1. Dedicated focus areas: Having only one true focus means you’re getting true experts. When someone has a specialty, the depth of knowledge is incomparable.
  2. The best tools: Industry providers typically evaluate dozens of tools before selecting the best ones to help their clients. Specialized IT partners, like MSPs and MSSPs, have strong partnerships with vendors and access to the best tools the industry has to offer. They’re also more likely to continually reevaluate those partnerships and tools to ensure that they’re still doing what’s best for the client.
  3. On-call experts for specific problems: If you’re reaching out due to an issue, the last thing you want to find out is that no one on staff can solve it. When you have access to specialized partnerships, you also have access to true experts. These experts have a specialty or level of service they’re designated to provide. When you have an issue, there’s an expert for that.
  4. Independence: There are absolutely benefits to having dedicated professionals for various aspects of your IT and cybersecurity environment. Keeping a degree of independence and separation can help with objectivity, gap analysis, and overall IT strategy. Engaging multiple partners at different levels helps from an auditing standpoint and provides a reliable system of checks and balances.
  5. Depth of knowledge: MSPs LIVE managed IT services, and MSSPs LIVE managed security. Focusing on one sector means that team members can dig deeper into topics, as well as pursuing continued learning and advanced training and certifications, and keeping up with industry standards specific to IT or cybersecurity.

ADNET believes you truly need both managed IT and managed security services. That’s why we partner with a national MSSP, Cyber74. Our strategic partnership connects clients with advanced security services and a built-in network of experts and industry leading tools.

Need help with Managed IT or Managed Security? Reach out to us using the form below – we’d love to hear from you!