Understanding MSPs and MSSPs

In the rapidly evolving world of business and technology, companies increasingly rely on external expertise to manage their IT infrastructure. In this context, you’ll often encounter two acronyms: MSP (Managed Service Provider) and MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider). While they seem similar at a glance, their roles and services differ significantly. 

Let’s delve deeper into what MSPs and MSSPs are, their business roles, and their key differences.

Managed Service Provider, or MSP, is a third-party company that remotely manages a customer’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems proactively. This outsourced service is typically under a subscription model and can vary from managing specific segments like network, data, applications, or system support to handling the entire IT infrastructure.

The range of services provided by an MSP can be vast. Typical offerings include IT support, network administration, cloud services, data backup and recovery, and specific software or application support. The role of an MSP in businesses is crucial. By taking care of the day-to-day IT operations, MSPs allow companies to focus on their core competencies, enhancing operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

In contrast, a Managed Security Service Provider, or MSSP, provides outsourced monitoring and management of security systems and devices. MSSPs are security specialists. They deliver services that help protect businesses from cybersecurity threats, data breaches, and other online attacks.

MSSP services typically include managed firewall, intrusion detection, virtual private network (VPN), vulnerability scanning, and anti-viral protection. Additionally, they can offer on-site incident response services, round-the-clock monitoring, and threat intelligence. MSSPs provide a security shield for businesses, helping them mitigate risks and ensure compliance with security standards and regulations.

Differences Between MSPs and MSSPs

Now that we understand what MSPs and MSSPs are let’s explore their primary differences. The first key difference lies in their focus areas. While an MSP covers a broad range of IT services, an MSSP focuses specifically on security services. An MSP provides general IT support and ensures the smooth functioning of the IT infrastructure. On the other hand, an MSSP focuses on proactive threat management, continuously monitoring and managing the security infrastructure to ward off potential threats.

Secondly, the scope of services offered by each also differs. For instance, while both might provide network management, an MSP’s services might include network setup, administration, and troubleshooting, while an MSSP would provide network security monitoring, intrusion detection, and incident response.

While MSPs and MSSPs play pivotal roles in the business technology landscape, they cater to different aspects of a company’s IT needs. The former focuses on managing and optimizing IT operations, while the latter prioritizes the protection of IT infrastructure from security threats.

Exploring The Value of MSPs and MSSPs in Business

Businesses should consider their unique needs and potential vulnerabilities when choosing between an MSP and an MSSP or deciding to employ both.

An MSP can be a cost-effective solution for managing day-to-day IT operations for small to medium-sized businesses with limited IT resources. These companies can benefit from MSPs as they provide comprehensive IT services, from network management and data backup to cloud services and IT support.

On the other hand, companies that handle sensitive data, like those in the healthcare or financial sectors or businesses that need to comply with specific security regulations, may require the specialized security services that an MSSP offers.

In some cases, a business might need both an MSP and an MSSP. This is particularly true for larger corporations with complex IT infrastructures, where an MSP’s general IT management services can complement the specialized security focus of an MSSP. These organizations may engage an MSP for general IT services and an MSSP for a robust cybersecurity framework.

In terms of cybersecurity, both MSPs and MSSPs hold significant value. While MSPs ensure a smoothly functioning IT infrastructure, which is the foundation of any cybersecurity strategy, MSSPs offer a more focused approach to threat detection, prevention, and response.

An MSP’s role in cybersecurity is ensuring systems are updated and patched, managing secure network configurations, and providing data backup and recovery services. On the other hand, MSSPs offer round-the-clock monitoring, threat intelligence, incident response, and other specialized security services. In essence, MSPs and MSSPs can work together to create a comprehensive, layered defense against cyber threats, with the MSP managing the IT environment and the MSSP protecting it.


Q1: Can an MSP also be an MSSP? Yes, an MSP can also function as an MSSP. This typically occurs when an MSP has the capability and resources to offer specialized security services, thus expanding its offerings to include the services of an MSSP.

Q2: What type of businesses need an MSSP? Companies that handle sensitive data, those subject to specific regulatory security standards, or any business with an increased risk of cyber threats can benefit from an MSSP. This includes sectors like healthcare, finance, and e-commerce.

Q3: How do I choose the right MSP or MSSP for my business? Choosing the right MSP or MSSP depends on your business needs. Consider factors such as the range of services offered, their expertise and reputation, the scalability of their services, and their understanding of your industry. Reviewing their service level agreements (SLAs) is essential to ensure your business needs are met.

Understanding the Differences to Make an Informed Decision

Understanding the unique roles and services of MSPs and MSSPs is crucial for businesses navigating today’s digital landscape. While both play significant roles in managing and protecting IT infrastructures, the choice between an MSP and an MSSP—or a decision to employ both—depends on a company’s specific needs and vulnerabilities. As a business leader, it is critical to carefully assess your particular needs and potential threats before deciding on an MSP or MSSP.

We encourage any business that reaches out to also to do their research and compare our offering. Our primary focus is helping small-to-medium-sized businesses poised for growth and looking to outsource their IT operations.  

For more in-depth knowledge on MSPs and MSSPs, refer to the in-depth definition of MSP on TechTarget, the comprehensive understanding of MSSP on Gartner, and learn more about [the significance of cybersecurity in business].

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