MSP vs. MSSP [4 Key Differences]

MSP vs. MSSPDespite being on the decline a few years ago, outsourced IT operations, such as managed IT services and managed security services, have increased since the pandemic. 

Outsourced IT spending increased from 12.7% of the average business’s IT budget in 2019 to 13.6% in 2020. Additionally, the global IT outsourcing market is expected to grow by $98 billion from 2020 to 2024.

If you’re here, it’s because you’re considering one of these services for your organization — or at least intrigued about what all the hype is about.

As the demand for outsourced IT services has grown, so have the options for how an external IT provider can maintain or complement your internal processes. 

At The KR Group, we’ve answered many questions about managed IT services and managed security services. 

With only a single-word difference, it’s easy to see why the two services are often confused. So, here are a few clarifications you’ll want to remember about these two services: 

  1. What is the focus of an MSP vs. MSSP?
  2. What solutions are offered with each service? 
  3. How do a NOC and SOC compare?
  4. What does incident response look like for an MSP and MSSP?

While you’ll understand the key differences for managed IT services and managed security services, you’ll still want to check with your MSP or MSSP on what their offerings look like. Providers can vary slightly in what and how they offer these two services.

Primary Focus for MSP vs. MSSP

MSP vs. MSSP Both an MSP and an MSSP will work with your IT environment, but their function as it relates to your IT varies. 

An MSP is responsible for making sure your data and environment are acceptable. Simply put, their job is to make sure you can efficiently use your IT to its full potential, whether that be printing, email, communications, applications, etc. 

On the other hand, an MSSP ensures your IT environment is secure and no threats interfere with the integrity of your IT environment. 

An easy way to remember this is an MSP handles the functionality while an MSSP monitors cybersecurity. 

Solutions Offered with Managed IT and Managed Security Services

Managed IT services and managed security services both include a package of security solutions. 


Cybersecurity has become something every business has to worry about, and a successful breach can wreak havoc in your IT environment. Whether you work with an MSP, MSSP, or both, they’ll require you to meet some level of security standard.

A breach will compromise your data and security, so whether you work with an MSP or MSSP, the provider will need to deploy engineers to address your security-related issues.

As far as what security solutions you can expect from each type of provider, you can expect antivirus, anti-spam, DNS filtration, and a firewall from an MSP. Generally, this is the extent of the security solutions for MSP clients, unless you work with the provider to include


 additional services in your contract. 

However, an MSSP’s security package runs the whole gamut of security solutions. As a result, there is some overlap with antivirus, anti-spam, DNS filtration, firewalls, and remote monitoring. 

With an MSSP, you’re also getting additional endpoint protection solutions, security risk assessments, and consultations. 

If your organization has any compliance mandates with cybersecurity focuses (CMMC, HIPAA, GLBA, FERPA, FINRA, etc.), your MSSP can also provide you with recommendations for those specific circumstances.

Network Operations Center (NOC) vs. Security Operations Center (SOC)

Now that you understand a bit about the unique functions of an MSP and MSSP and what they provide, let’s talk about how they do it. 

With both services, you want monitoring and maintenance of your IT environment. 

With managed IT services, this takes place in the NOC (network operations center). Here, the group of MSP engineers is keeping tabs on the health of your IT environment, watching for outages or problems, and then solving them when they come up. 

MSSPs focus on your IT environment’s cybersecurity, so they use a SOC (security operations center) to monitor data for ransomware, malware, and other patterns or abnormalities. 

An MSP and MSSP use similar processes, but they focus on different areas of your IT environment. 

MSP vs. MSSP for Incident Response 


Since managed IT services and managed security services have different focuses, the respective providers respond to separate incidents. 

If your server goes down, your MSP will respond by looking into the issue and

 coordinating troubleshooting — or replacement — if necessary. 

However, if your MSSP detects a threat in your IT environment, they’ll respond by investigating and ultimately removing the malware.

Of course, there will always be some overlap. For example, a firewall is part of your network (an MSP’s domain) and a critical security piece (an MSSP’s focus.) Therefore, both services would address problems related to this component. 

Which Do You Need?

At this point, you should understand how managed IT services and managed security services are different. 

  • Managed IT services focus on your network and daily functionality, but managed security services keep tabs on your cybersecurity needs. 
  • Both managed IT services and managed security services require you to have some endpoint protection solutions; however, an MSSP’s offerings can be much more extensive.
  • To accomplish their separate functions, an MSP utilizes a NOC while an MSSP operates through a SOC.
  • When you require support from your MSP or MSSP, they’ll focus on different areas of your IT environment. For example, managed services address general IT issues, and managed security services resolve cybersecurity problems. 

So which one should you consider for your business?

With an unlimited IT budget, you could implement all the external services available to keep your environment running securely. However, that’s likely not your reality. You’ll want to determine if you’re going to prioritize external management of your general IT or cybersecurity operations. 

Whether or not you have an internal IT department, you can benefit from working with an MSP or an MSSP. 

Preventative cybersecurity maintenance (and, when needed, response) requires the full attention of at least one IT personnel, as well as a specific set of knowledge and experience. 

If you don’t have this resource internally, you can outsource it to an MSSP.

On the other hand, managed IT services can range from complete maintenance of your environment to supplemental support of certain parts of your IT

Check out this free guide for more information about how managed IT services could benefit your IT environment.

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