MSP vs MSSP: Making the Best Choice

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Modernized organizations rely on technology and its underlying support infrastructure to perform important tasks and execute day-to-day business operations. 

In addition to keeping these critical IT systems functioning, it is equally as important to ensure they have adequate protection from cyber threats. 

Many businesses will engage a service provider to manage these efforts if they do not have the expertise, resources, or budget to do so internally. But is it better to partner with a managed service provider or a managed security service provider?

If you are confused by these acronyms and the types of services each provides, you will want to continue on to discover the differences between an MSSP vs. an MSP.

There are several factors to consider when choosing between a managed service provider and a managed security services provider. More often than not, the answer is that you need both. 

In this blog, we’ll examine the roles of MSPs and MSSPs in addition to the use cases for each provider. 


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What is an MSP?

A managed service provider (MSP) is a third-party IT service provider that facilitates support for clients’ backend IT infrastructure, including servers, networks, and applications.  

Traditionally, an MSP’s main objective was to provide break-fix support to organizations that couldn’t resolve IT issues using their internal resources. 

Companies could simply hire IT technicians to perform services such as hardware upgrades or installations, network repairs, and patching. 

While the lower cost and no commitment of this model continue to make it a popular option among small businesses who cannot staff their own IT team, MSPs play a much larger role in helping organizations thrive in today’s competitive, digital-centric landscape.

When a company partners with an MSP for recurring IT services, they will receive ongoing support across multiple facets of their technology environment, all for a monthly fee. This includes:

  • Data storage and backup
  • Managed cloud services
  • Service desk management
  • Network monitoring and maintenance via a network operations center (NOC)
  • And more 

In addition to providing technical support services, MSPs can also serve as an advisor, helping businesses make informed and strategic decisions that help them achieve their IT goals and objectives. 

Other benefits include more predictable IT costs, enhanced business efficiencies, proactive technical support, reduced downtime, and freeing up internal staff to focus on core business initiatives. 



Credit: Annie Spratt


What is an MSSP?

A managed security services provider (MSSP) offers cybersecurity services such as: 

  • 24/7 security monitoring
  • Endpoint protection
  • Threat detection
  • Incident response
  • Email security
  • Security awareness training
  • And more

Many of these managed security services are handled via a high-tech security operations center (SOC). They can also provide project-based services, like a risk assessment, vulnerability assessment, or gap analysis, to establish a baseline when it comes to a customer’s security posture. 

Through advanced security monitoring tools such as SIEM (security information and event management), MSSPs collect and analyze data from their clients’ IT infrastructure that helps them identify and mitigate a potential security threat

Additionally, to fill the ongoing skill gaps and protect employees and customers from cyber attacks, companies can also supplement their internal IT teams by hiring dedicated security service experts.

The need for MSSPs is greater than ever. Among one of the primary driving forces would be the rapid cloud and digital adoption following the pandemic. 

There were, on average, 270 attacks (unauthorized access of data, applications, services, networks, or devices) per company over the year, an increase of 31% compared to 2020.


MSSP vs. MSP: Which is Best for Your Business?

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So what is the difference between an MSP and a managed security services provider? At the fundamental level, an MSP is a service provider that manages IT operations, while an MSSP is solely focused on IT security. You will want to keep that in mind when choosing which type of service provider to partner with.

In general, it’s better to work with an MSP if you require technology services to make more efficient use of your IT budget, to implement and support new technologies, or to augment in-house staff with comprehensive IT expertise. Alternatively, it’s usually better to hire an MSSP if you’re looking to improve your cybersecurity or meet specific compliance standards.

While most of these service providers have traditionally specialized in one particular practice, it is not uncommon to find companies that supply both general IT support and security services. 

For instance, a recent survey of more than 1,800 MSPs worldwide found that 99% of them were offering some level of managed security services. This indicates that companies using managed IT services are also likely leveraging managed security services to an extent. 

Fulfill Your IT and Security Needs With Buchanan

By combining our portfolio of managed services with our robust and innovative security solutions, Buchanan can manage core IT security functions while keeping a range of cyber threats at bay.

This gives SMBs and enterprise organizations alike the critical tools and support they need to meet their infrastructure and security needs, all through a single provider. 

If your organization needs assistance with IT or cybersecurity services, get in touch with us today.

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