12 April 2024

Difference between MSP vs MSSP (Image by Kaseya)

The difference between MSP vs MSSP is quite simple to understand. Let’s illustrate. 

To illustrate, consider your IT infrastructure as a city on the move. To maintain a smooth process, you need two types of heroes: the city manager (MSP) and the cybersecurity SWAT team (MSSP). 

An MSP is your full-service IT operations solution, much like a skilled team of tech specialists who handle your day-to-day technology needs, such as fixing printer problems and managing your cloud infrastructure. 

They are your go-to crew, always ready to keep your city running smoothly. 

Now, imagine that your city is under constant threat of cyberattack. That’s where your MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider) steps in. 

They’re your elite cybersecurity team, unwaveringly attentive and always prepared to repel digital intruders. 

In reality, the MSP and MSPP are systems intimately connected to many things in the IT infrastructure of profit-driven business. 

So, let’s define the illustration above to develop a more realistic understanding of building an IT infrastructure strategy.

1. Scope of Offerings

MSPs are the dedicated housewives of the IT services industry. They can handle every aspect of your IT infrastructure and be the incredible support system your business needs. 

MSP offers several solutions, from cloud services and network infrastructure to software management and support. 

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a company that remotely manages a client’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems. For pricing,  MSP, typically, proactively and under a subscription model. 

As a generalist, MSPs have a variety of IT services for your business. An MSPP, on the other hand, offers only cyber-attack protection services to keep your business secure. 

A Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) specializes in providing cybersecurity services to protect businesses from digital threats. 

Their services include 24/7 threat monitoring, incident response, vulnerability management and patching, and compliance and regulatory expertise, all designed to provide maximum security for your business. 

2. Primary Focus

MSPs and MSSPs have separate primary focuses but are aligned in improving business operations through technology. 

MSPs optimize and manage IT infrastructure to support and enhance business operations that drive the bottom line. 

Typical focuses that MSPs aim to increase the IT department’s efficiency and reliability, achieving business growth and scalability, and so on. 

MSSPs focus on safeguarding infrastructure against constantly advancing cyber threats. 

Their activities focus on several core areas of cybersecurity. For example, MSSPs perform 24/7 threat detection and monitoring, stand ready 24/7 to respond to cyber-attacks, and so on. 

Both IT system efficiency and growth and protecting these systems from external threats play crucial roles in the modern business environment. 

3. Service Delivery Approaches

MSPs and MSSPs take a proactive approach to service delivery, but their focus differs. 

MSPs focus on preventative measures and overall IT optimization to deliver infrastructures that are stable, efficient, and aligned with the business’s goals. 

Critical practices characterize this service delivery approach, including preventive measures, continuous monitoring, customized IT solutions, technology upgrades & recommendations, and user training & support. 

Meanwhile, to protect businesses from the ever-present and evolving cyber threats, MSSPs focus on proactive security monitoring, threat detection, and rapid response. 

They practice continuous security monitoring, analyze and detect threats, provide rapid incident response, conduct regular security audits & assessments, and provide compliance & risk management. 

The harmony between these practices is the beauty of the MSP and MSSP approach. 

MSPs establish a sturdy and dependable IT infrastructure, while MSSPs continually monitor and safeguard it from advancing cyber threats. 

4. Key Capabilities Breakdown

MSPs offer a complete range of IT services to manage and operate a company’s technology infrastructure smoothly and efficiently. 

The following are the critical capabilities of MSPs:

  • Network management
  • Data management and backup
  • Cloud computing services
  • Software management and support
  • It security services
  • Helpdesk and user support
  • Consultancy and strategic planning 

In contrast, Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) provide targeted cybersecurity capabilities to safeguard businesses against increasingly complex cyber threats. 

Their knowledge concentrates solely on defending businesses from advanced and ever-changing cyber threats. Here are some of the key MSSP capabilities:

  • Security incident and event management (SIEM)
  • Threat intelligence
  • Managed firewall services
  • Intrusion detection and prevention
  • Vulnerability management
  • Compliance management
  • Cybersecurity training 

Both play an important role in IT infrastructure business operations. But their focus and expertise are very different. 

5. Skill Set Requirements

The skill sets needed by MSPs and MSSPs are diverse and specialized, reflecting the complexity of modern IT and cybersecurity environments. 

MSPs must possess a comprehensive skill set covering various IT domains to ensure optimized IT infrastructure management. 

Think of your managed service provider (MSP) as skilled technicians who ensure the optimal functioning of your IT infrastructure. 

Their proficiency includes various capabilities required to manage different IT domains comprehensively. 

Here are some skills required by MSPs:

  • Network and systems administration
  • Data management and analysis
  • Cloud computing expertise
  • Software management
  • Cybersecurity basics
  • Customer support and communication
  • Strategic IT planning. 

Imagine facing the constant cyber threats lurking in the digital dark. This is where your MSSP comes in – a team of cybersecurity professionals with specialized skills dedicated to safeguarding your digital assets. 

However, MSSPs require a focused skill set around cybersecurity, threat analysis, and incident response to meet the urgent need for reliable digital security in today’s businesses. 

The following are some necessary skills for MSSPs:

  • Threat intelligence and analysis
  • Incident response and management
  • Compliance and risk management
  • Security systems management
  • Education and training. 
MSSP vs MSP (Image by WallArm)

6. Client Goals Clarification

When companies seek Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs), they have specific objectives. 

Both providers and clients must comprehend these goals to ensure a successful partnership. 

Businesses commonly engage MSPs with the intention of improving operational efficiency in their IT operations. 

Operational efficiency involves much more than just keeping systems running smoothly. It requires the optimization of IT resources to support business goals. 

Many businesses rely on MSPs to manage the complexity of diverse IT services, freeing them to concentrate on their core activities. 

MSPs must provide solutions that fit the budget and scale with the business’s growth. 

In addition, customers expect MSPs to take a proactive approach to IT management, anticipating and addressing potential issues before they become problems. This helps minimize downtime and keeps the business up and running. 

Meanwhile, customers are looking to MSSPs with the explicit goal of strengthening their cybersecurity. 

The foundation of this expectation is advanced security monitoring. 

Customers rely on MSSPs to monitor their IT environments vigilantly and quickly identify and neutralize potential threats. 

Partnering with an MSSP offers significant benefits, including compliance with cybersecurity regulations, which is essential in today’s business world. 

Customers also look to MSSPs to help them assess and manage risk. 

Despite each provider’s unique value proposition, there are similarities in customer expectations for MSPs and MSSPs. 

Most businesses prioritize finding an appropriate fit and reasonable pricing. 

Clients aim for predictable and manageable IT expenses and wish to avoid unforeseeable fluctuations and uncertainties that come with handling IT in-house. 

This budget understanding requires thorough analysis from all parties involved. Recognizing that clients demand transparency, with no hidden fees, is crucial. They are ready to pay a premium if the services are reputable and justified. 

7. Common Overlap Acknowledgment

In response to growing cybersecurity concerns among their customers, many MSPs are expanding their service portfolios to include security-focused offerings. 

This growth is driven by the recognition that information technology security is no longer a separate issue but a critical element of overall IT management. 

As a result, MSPs provide customers with a more comprehensive and unified approach to IT management that addresses operational efficiency and security needs. 

On the other side of the spectrum, some MSSPs are expanding their scope to include broader IT management responsibilities. 

This is driven by the recognition that cybersecurity is not just about protecting data and systems but also about ensuring the overall health and stability of the IT infrastructure. 

Simply by adding IT management services to their offerings, MSSPs can offer their customers a more end-to-end approach to IT security. 

This end-to-end approach guarantees that customer digital assets are protected from threats and function optimally. 

This overlap between MSPs and MSSPs illustrates a blurring of lines in the IT services industry. 

While MSPs and MSSPs maintain their core focuses, service integration reflects a more nuanced approach to meeting modern businesses’ complex IT needs. 

This overlap gives businesses more options and flexibility in selecting service providers to meet their specific IT requirements. 

Understanding this evolving landscape is vital for businesses. A provider that offers thorough IT management and strong cybersecurity may be ideal for businesses seeking an integrated approach to their IT strategy. 

Can an MSP be an MSSP?

Yes, an MSP can become an MSSP by acquiring specialized cybersecurity capabilities. 

But it would be best to consider this significant transition involving much more than simply adding security services. 

This transition requires a deep commitment to security awareness, investment in the right tools and technologies, and adapting the business model to prioritize security. 

For MSPs, the evolution to an MSSP is a way to expand their business opportunities and provide more comprehensive customer services. 

The demand for targeted security services is growing as cybersecurity becomes more critical to businesses of all sizes. 

From another perspective, businesses can benefit from an MSP seamlessly transitioning to an MSSP. This provides a seamlessly integrated approach to their IT services. 

A transition provider like this can manage and secure IT systems, offering assurance that all facets of IT are skillfully handled to give you peace of mind. 


Navigating the overlapping roles of MSPs vs MSSP is challenging for many businesses. 

With the rise of digital threats, MSPs increasingly incorporate cybersecurity into their service offerings. 

In the same way, MSSPs are expanding their scope to include a broader range of IT management services. 

From a business perspective, this intersection is about choosing a service provider and integrating multiple IT services and security protocols into a unified, effective strategy. 

The ultimate goal is to assure compatibility and efficiency across disparate IT environments. 

It becomes even more daunting when dealing with multiple vendors such as Datto Autotask, Microsoft 365, Azure, AWS, CrowdStrike, and Proofpoint. 

Octobits, with its innovative approach to IT process automation, aims to simplify and streamline your IT operations. 

Utilizing a consolidated dashboard, Octobits eliminates the need for multiple tools and offers a centralized platform to manage all IT services with a unified login system. 

This integration guarantees seamless operations across numerous IT environments while providing unparalleled efficiency and security to your IT processes. 

Kindly visit Octobits’ main website to discover how our software can help your business. 

And now, we offer an exceptional chance to try our dashboard utterly free of charge until June 30, 2024. 

This is your opportunity to see firsthand how Octobits can reshape your IT operations. You’ll experience a more efficient, secure, and innovative future for your business.

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