What is an MSP?

Within the information technology industry, the acronym “MSP” stands for “Managed Service Provider“.

An MSP is a business that sells, implements and supports one or more services to (typically) business customers, via the Internet. The services are sometimes hosted in the MSP’s data center, or sometimes in a third party data center. Sometimes the MSP is a reseller of a services provided by a third party.

An MSP business normally charges for its services on a recurring-charge model, which is typically on a monthly basis. This can be fixed-price subscriptions or variable usage-based charges, or a combination of both.

In addition to selling services, many MSPs will also sell hardware items that are related to the services they provide. For example, an MSP who sells VOIP phone services might also sell phones to their customers.

MSPs will usually employ technical staff who are skilled in IT networks, application support, telecoms and other skillsets relevent to the services provided by the MSP.

MSPs are often referred to as “outsourced IT departments”. If a business says it is outsourcing its IT, it usually means they are engaging an MSP.

The following are some examples of services sold by MSPs:

  • General IT support
  • VoIP phone systems (Internet based business phone systems)
  • Hosted desktops (Computer desktop environments that are hosted)
  • Virtual servers (Computer servers hosted at the MSPs or other data center)
  • Network Support and Management
  • Internet and WAN connectivity
  • Hosted applications (eg Office 365)
  • Hosted Email

MSPs often use PSA (Professional Service Automation) software to manage their businesses. Examples of popular PSA systems include the following:

Increasingly, MSPs are winning more and more business from the traditional telecom providers. Businesses prefer the flexibility and cost-savings of VoIP-based phone systems that run on the same IT infrastructure as their computers. It’s therefore logical that the MSP, who is alsready managing the computer infrastructure, should also provide the VoIP phone systems.

For telecom billing (eg VoIP, Mobile, data etc), MSPs use specialized telecom billing software such as Datagate that integrates with their PSA software.

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