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csp vs msp

Managed Service Providers vs. Cloud Service Providers

More and more organizations are evaluating the differences between managed service providers and cloud service providers and how those differences may or may not suit their needs. In this article, we’ll take a look at managed service providers and cloud service providers so that you can better understand how they may fit your unique needs.

What is a Service Provider?

Most businesses these days are reliant on their digital infrastructure to meet their needs. Communication, collaboration, customer service, development, marketing — many of the most critical business functions now live in the digital domain.

Since most organizations can’t afford to deploy their own internal IT organization, they may wonder how to meet those strict digital demands. This search usually leads them to working with some form of outsourced IT or cloud service provider.

These service providers give you a means to supplement in-house IT staff (if any) and technology to provide a cost-effective and efficient way to scale and manage the IT infrastructure that keeps everything moving. You’ve probably heard of one of the early iterations of this concept — managed service providers  — but cloud service providers are more of a recent arrival on this scene. 

It’s worth noting that other common types of technology service providers include managed security service providers, application service providers, and network service providers.

What is a Cloud Service Provider?

A cloud service provider (CSP), also known as a cloud solution provider, is a company that specializes in addressing cloud computing needs. Their service delivery infrastructure resides in the cloud, and they typically specialize in migrating tools and data to the cloud. Some providers — like Technolify — also specialize in cloud-based ERP tools such as Sage. 

The CSP embodies the idea of the X-as-a-Service (XaaS) model. This includes software- (SaaS), infrastructure- (IaaS), or platform- (PaaS) as-a-service. CSPs can use a public cloud infrastructure, private cloud, or hybrid model to deliver their services depending on the client’s needs. 

What is a Managed Service Provider?

A managed service provider (MSP) delivers a broad range of IT services and support. Their offerings often include network, application, infrastructure, and security, as well as ongoing IT management and tech support. MSPs mostly operate via remote using a remote monitoring and management tool (RMM), but they can do work on-premises when needed. 

Many MSPs include services from vendors or partner technology firms in their service offerings. It’s the nature of the business to use subcontracted providers to fill in weak points in their own team or software stack. Technolify is one such provider, helping MSPs complete their cloud project work and management effectively and on time. 

Managed Service Providers vs. Cloud Service Providers

When choosing between a managed service provider vs. a cloud service provider, there are two primary considerations:

  1. On-Premises Technology. Businesses or organizations who have been operating for a while often have amassed quite a collection of in-house technology, including everything from servers to tape drive backups. While modern MSPs lean toward remote services, they originated in the monitoring and managing of on-premises technologies. Most MSPs are well-versed in such tasks and can certainly help with management and monitoring of in-house systems. As MSPs often say, they are more than capable of being your “in-house IT team” when needed. On the other hand, cloud service providers work only in off-premises cloud-based solutions. Because their focus is on delivering X-as-a-Service, they generally don’t handle any on-premises work. While you can choose to move to the cloud with a CSP, an MSP might still come in handy for managing any legacy tech and on-premises infrastructure that stays in use.
  1. End-User Support. MSPs are largely service and support companies at heart, and they’re well positioned to provide tech support to users, as well as strategic guidance around long term IT objectives. CSPs are more focused on the solutions they deliver, and thus they take a more hands-off approach to day-to-day IT management and general tech support. Support is restricted to the cloud services they offer, and they are typically not “wired in” to a network in the same way an MSP is, so they can’t address device-level issues on your end. CSPs are suited for organizations with an in-house IT team and who just need help with cloud-related services or tools. Additionally, small businesses can choose to work with an MSP who partners with a cloud provider like Technolify to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Differences Between Managed Service Providers and Cloud Service Providers

In summation there are a few key differences between managed service providers and cloud service providers, but knowing the needs of your organization should make the choice simple enough.

The main difference of general technology and infrastructure management offered by MSPs is probably the key deciding factor. Whether you choose an MSP or CSP depends on your current IT landscape, your objectives, and your specific organizational needs. 

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