managed service provider (MSP)

A managed service provider (MSP) provides delivery and management of network-based services, applications, and equipment to enterprises, residences, or other service providers.

A managed service provider (MSP) is a third-party contractor that delivers 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 IT services such as fully outsourced network management arrangements, including IP telephony, messaging and call center management, virtual private networks (VPNs), managed firewalls and monitoring/reporting of network servers. 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.

In addition to such basic communication service as leased line wide area network (WAN) and frame relay service, an MSP can manage and integrate a range of activities associated with enterprise networks, including cloud storage.   

Managed service providers sometimes are referred to as management service providers. In the past, management service providers was used to describe infrastructure services delivered on a subscription basis, but with the advent of cloud computing, managed IT services and management services have become synonyms. 

See also: cloud provider

This was first published in July 2007

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