Managed IT services: What they are and why you need them

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The managed IT services market is booming and is expected to reach $731.08 billion by 2030 at a 13.6 percent compound annual growth rate. 

Despite technological progress, research shows that 76 percent of organizations still suffered downtime due to data loss in 2022.

Today, businesses rely on IT systems to ensure smooth operations. This is where working with managed IT service providers (MSP) becomes invaluable. They handle day-to-day technology and security so companies can concentrate on growing their business.

This article will explore what managed IT services are, the types, and what to look for when choosing one.

What is a managed IT service?

A managed IT service involves entrusting your organization's IT infrastructure and systems to a specialized third-party vendor for proactive monitoring, maintenance, and support. These services offer various options, including help desk, cybersecurity services, back and recovery, and more, from remote to onsite delivery.

Unlike the old reactive break-fix model, managed IT service providers use a proactive method, preempting issues such as security threats, hardware failure, and software compatibility before they happen.

Types of managed IT services

Managed IT service examples come in various forms, each serving a specific purpose: to keep your IT infrastructure running smoothly.

Network infrastructure management

MSPs ensure optimal performance and uptime for your network infrastructure, whether remotely or onsite. They focus on five aspects of networking:

  • Network infrastructure monitoring
  • Configuration management
  • Performance management
  • Fault management
  • Security management

Help desk support

Have you ever experienced a tech issue out of nowhere? Help desk support is there to save the day. MSP technicians serve as dedicated help desks, quickly responding to technical support requests from clients. Also, they proactively notify clients about emerging issues such as:

  • Managing your internet connection, firewall, and routers
  • Regularly backing up your data
  • Monitoring your network to prevent issues

Managed IT services offer 24/7, 365-day support, providing quick technical fixes and expert advice whenever needed to prevent business disruption or downtime.

Cybersecurity service

MSP services provide security services for your IT infrastructure, systems, and data from various cyber threats like malware, hacking, data breaches, and other security incidents.

Backup & disaster recovery 

Imagine losing all your data in one moment. Backup recovery is used in cases of hardware failure, software glitch, or cyber-attack, while disaster recovery backs up data due to a natural disaster or a large-scale power outage. 

Cloud management

Businesses are migrating to the cloud; two in five MSPs report that 25–50 percent of client’s workloads are in the cloud. Experts predict that by 2024, more than half of clients’ workloads will reside in the cloud.

This management service helps you maximize cloud-based solutions, whether it’s software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS). 

Server maintenance

These MSPs keep your servers running smoothly and ensure their readiness to handle assigned tasks with services such as scheduled maintenance, regular software updates and patching, and hardware lifecycle management.

System administration

They specialize in setting up new systems and maintaining them to keep them running. The maintenance may involve disk cleanup, log file management, and temporary file removal. 

Audit and compliance

They ensure your tech setup is compliant with all the necessary industry regulations and standards. Managed IT services also provide clients with internal and external audits, including system performance, security issues, user activities, and other critical metrics.

What are the key benefits of using an MSP?

Key benefits of Managed IT service

There are many convincing grounds to hand over infrastructure management headaches to MSPs.

Enhanced security and compliance  

Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) have been the primary target of cyberattacks. Given this, it is not surprising that 41 percent of SMBs were the victims of at least one cyber attack in 2023. Lacking robust defenses can lead to devastating breaches. 

To mitigate this threat, MSP expertise and technologies provide enterprise-level security, including continuous monitoring, threat mitigation, and ensuring compliance.

Increased uptime and reliability

Over 50 percent of small businesses reported it took 24 hours to recover from an attack, while 51 percent claimed their website was inaccessible for 8–24 hours. You can minimize this downtime with an MSP’s active monitoring and support. 

Reduce IT costs

According to this study, 51 percent of businesses opt for managed IT services to reduce costs by as much as 25–45 percent. Hiring an MSP might seem like an added expense initially, but it can save you money in the long run since you only pay for the service when you use it. 

Proactive support and risk mitigation

In 2020, small businesses faced over seven hundred thousand attacks — roughly 1900 daily. In the face of relentless attacks, managed IT services use a proactive method, such as regular checks, data analytics, and machines, to identify patterns and trends to detect potential threats. 

Fill the talent gap and leverage expert knowledge

The IT and technology sector is experiencing a staggering 76 percent talent shortage. Given this decline, SMBs may not have access to a highly skilled technical workforce. With MSP support, you can tap into a wealth of tech expertise without hiring an entire team of experts.

What to look for in an MSP

Steps to selecting MSP providers

Now you're aware of the benefits of managed IT services, let’s go over some key considerations to consider when choosing one.

Quality of solution

Fifty-two percent of SMBs and mid-market companies claimed that quality of service is the most important criterion when selecting an MSP. This directly impacts the reliability and uptime of an organization’s IT systems. You must ensure these solutions scale alongside your business’ growth and comply with relevant regulations and standards.

Security measures and certifications

Forty-six percent of SMBs and mid-market businesses reported attention to security is the second most important criterion for choosing an MSP. Here’s how to choose a service based on its security features:

  • Look for industry-recognized security certifications, such as ISO/IEC 27001 or SOC 2. 
  • Does it include services such as threat detection, vulnerability management, and security awareness training for employees?
  • How often do they conduct security audits, vulnerability checks, and continuous monitoring of their systems and networks?
  • How confident and safe are their data encryption and access control practices?

Reliability and reputation

Choose a reputable managed IT service provider with a proven track record and established process. Check their customers’ reviews. Beyond taking their word for it, validate your findings through reliable online sources such as Clutch, G2, and Gartner Digital Markets’ house.

Experience and expertise

MSPs have likely faced and resolved challenges across different industries and technology stacks. Choose a company with strong expertise and years of experience — they'll have the necessary technical knowledge and skilled personnel to utilize best practices. 

Services offered match your needs

Every MSP has strengths and weaknesses. At a minimum, ensure the provider you choose demonstrates extensive expertise in infrastructure stacks and your organization’s systems for smooth operations.

Support model and service level agreement (SLAs)

This documents the MSP’s responsibilities versus the client, which is essential for defining the relationship. Confirm the SLA covers performance metrics like system uptime guarantees, response times, outlining penalties for deficiencies, and hours and emergency protocols to avoid ambiguity around expectations.

How are managed IT services priced?

Due to the variability in managed IT service deliverables and responsibilities, it’s impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all answer. However, 28 percent of MSPs charge customers $50 to $100 per device, and 22 percent pay between $50 to $100 per user per month.

MSPs offer flexible pricing models to accommodate your needs and budgets, varying from small businesses to large enterprises.

  • Monitoring-only: Price based on the number of monitoring and alerting services. 
  • Per-user pricing: Price charged per person who uses the service.
  • Per device pricing: Based on the count of devices like servers, desktops, and mobiles.
  • A la carte pricing: Pay-as-you-go based on specific one-off services rendered. 
  • Flat: Fixed and predetermined fee for a particular service and client’s bundle option.
  • Tier: Different levels or services determine the prices, with each tier having different features.
  • Managed services plus time and materials: This is a hybrid model that charges a fixed price and additional for time and material.

MSPs vs internal IT staff 

MSPs provide 24/7 monitoring and support for rapid response times and to minimize downtime. MSPs can reduce costs per client through shared resources and efficient processes.

However, due to their on-site presence, in-house IT staff may be more familiar with the organization's unique requirements and can prioritize tasks according to business needs. 

The cost structure for internal IT staff involves fixed salaries, while MSPs typically charge monthly fees or hourly rates.

Rather than going full-scale internal IT staff or MSP, there’s a win-win path forward — encourage your internal IT staff to brush up on their technical skills. However, you can leverage MSPs for tasks including updates, monitoring, offsite backups, help desk tickets, security controls, documenting, etc.

FAQS about managed IT services

Below are a few questions people often ask about managed IT services.

What is a fully managed service?

Fully managed services oversee your entire IT infrastructure and resources to keep it running by providing continuous monitoring, configuration services, and ongoing support. MSP manages everything from configuration to security and support.

What do managed IT services provide?

Maintaining an in-house IT team can be costly and resource-intensive. Managed IT services provide solutions for your daily technology needs, such as monitoring and access to experts. 

What are tech-managed services?

Tech-managed services involve outsourcing your IT infrastructure and services to an MSP. They provide remote monitoring, hardware infrastructure management, and security services. They also include penetration testing, threat hunting, or incident response. However, tech-managed services have been used interchangeably with managed IT services as they have the same primary function.

What key inquiries should you ask potential managed IT services providers?

  • Do your services support hybrid cloud infrastructures?
  • Do you own the full client engagement lifecycle or subcontract certain services out?   
  • Does client data remain onshore or reside overseas?  
  • How often are client infrastructure analysis assessments conducted?  
  • Do you support unlimited versus capped monthly service requests?
  • In an emergency, how quickly can engineers be dispatched onsite?

Liquid Web managed services

The increasing growth of managed IT services shows businesses now realize the benefits of outsourcing their infrastructure management to third-party vendors.

Partner with us to scale your business using our team of experts and other IT solutions. Choose from our various plans to help you handle your daily infrastructure headache and free your staff to focus on core business.