A managed service provider provides delivery and management of network-based services, applications, and equipment to enterprises, residences, or other service providers. Managed service providers can be hosting companies or access providers that offer services that can include fully outsourced network management arrangements, including advanced features like IP telephony, messaging and call center, virtual private network, managed firewalls, and monitoring/reporting of network servers.
Common services provided by MSPs include remote network, desktop and security monitoring, patch management and remote data back-up, as well as technical assistance. Most of these services can be performed from outside a company's internal network with a special emphasis placed on integration and certification of Internet security for applications and content. MSPs serve as outsourcing agents for companies, especially other service providers like ISPs, that don't have the resources to constantly upgrade or maintain faster and faster computer networks.
Recently, a managed service provider is a company that manages information technology services for other companies via the Internet. An MSP is a "company that offers continuous outsourcing of an IT function -- it works on a recurring revenue model; it monitors and fixes things proactively; and it does all this over the Internet, rather than having to work hands-on at a client's office."
In addition to such basic communication service as leased line wide area network and frame relay service, an MSP can manage and integrate a range of activities associated with enterprise networks. The range of outsourcing services includes basic transport and access, managed premises, web hostings, VPN, unified messaging, video networking, or other more sophisticated services. The market for managed services is forecast to grow about 20 percent annually, according to The Yankee Group, due largely to the need for enterprises to be more flexible and timely in getting to market and communicating with customers. Managed service providers sometimes are referred to as management service providers, which also manage information technology services for companies. However, some industry experts say managed service providers provide a broader range of services than management service providers, which tend to limit themselves to monitoring services for servers, routers, firewalls, and other applications. Management service providers typically deliver infrastructure management services on a subscription basis, similar to the model used by application service providers. They most commonly offer network- and application-monitoring services to e-businesses.