We often get asked “what’s the different between an MSP and an MSSP?” Comparing them is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. MSPs and MSSPs are designed differently, and they accomplish different things for a business, with one focused more on day-to-day troubleshooting and the other focused more on security operations. Below, we have provided a handy guide that can help you discover which type of organization you need helping you accomplish your technology goals.

What is an MSP (Managed Service Provider)?

At the start of the dot.com era, faster internet speeds allowed IT professionals to troubleshoot programs and applications from a remote location. This helped launch the managed IT services industry in the early 2000s. IT professional services/consulting organizations started to hire and maintain a staff of IT experts, who provided technical services to organizations from a central location.

Today, MSPs provide defined, onsite or remote IT services to organizations that cannot afford and/or do not have the internal expertise to manage their systems, databases, and applications in-house. Adopting managed services can save an organization both time and money, ensure that the organization stays current with technologies, and let the organization focus on objectives critical to running the business. The types of services MSPs can offer include:

  • Help desk
  • Endpoint management
  • Managed infrastructure
  • Managed backup
  • Managed applications
  • Managed networks and firewalls
  • Endpoint security
  • Managed Microsoft 365
  • Business VoIP
  • Managed print
  • Database optimization/management
  • Managed cloud services
  • IT staff augmentation/co-management
  • IT strategy services

What is an MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider)

In the late 1990s, internet service providers (ISPs) began offering their clients managed firewall appliances and services. This kick-started the concept of managed security services and over time, MSSPs evolved their portfolio to focus exclusively on system and data security. The evolution of cloud services also created an additional line of business for MSSPs. Today, organizations engage MSSPs because they cannot afford and/or do not have the internal expertise to manage system and data security.

With the tremendous rise in crypto malware, Business Email Compromise and other advanced threats, many organizations are looking for MSSPs who have the technical skills, advanced knowledge, and robust capabilities to help them protect their data and ensure that they are able to compete in the modern age.

MSSPs provide security monitoring and management services to organizations to ensure they are protected from cybersecurity threats. The types of services MSSPs can offer include:

  • Managed security
  • Managed firewall
  • Endpoint protection
  • Threat monitoring
  • Intrusion detection
  • Patch management
  • Penetration testing
  • Compliance auditing
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity
  • Managed network security
  • VPN management
  • Security awareness
  • Cyber breach forensic services
  • Incident response team(s)
  • Security Operations Center (SOC)

Differences Between an MSP and MSSP

While both MSPs and MSSPs provide third-party services to businesses; their focuses are different. An MSP delivers network, application, database and other general IT support and services while an MSSP is exclusively focused on providing cybersecurity services. While MSSPs provide incident response planning and services, an MSP is more reactive – they are called when something happens, or something is broken.

To effectively provide network support, an MSP uses a network operations center (NOC), which manages network related incidents and alerts to reduce downtime.

MSSPs typically have a high-availability security operations center (SOC) which continuously manages and monitors system and data security for its clients.

Many MSPs partner and contract with MSSPs that offer specific security services, including managed detection and response, intrusion detection and prevention, incident planning and management, and more.

About Black Belt Consulting

We are in somewhat of a unique position, in that we are a highly recommended MSSP, but we also provide MSP services. To learn more about what we can offer your organization, check out our services page or contact our team.