Decisions, Decisions: Managed Service Provider or Cloud Computing Solutions?


When it comes to accessing the cloud, businesses have two choices: either a managed service provider or a cloud computing service provider. Which one is right for your organization? Read on to find out more about these two options.

First, it was the floppy disk. Then, it was the jump drive. Today, more businesses are choosing to access and store applications and data using the cloud. But what’s the best way to implement a cloud strategy in your business? In general, businesses have two choices: either a managed service provider or a cloud computing service provider.

What’s the difference and how do you choose between these two options?Cloud computing or managed service provider

Cloud Computing Capabilities

Cloud computing is well suited for purchasing applications, infrastructure and equipment. These cloud services are accessed via the Internet on a subscription basis. Cloud computing service providers offer a variety of solutions in this way, including:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Desktop as a Service (DaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • File sharing, or Storage as a Service
  • And more.

However, for most businesses, simply signing up for a variety of cloud services isn’t enough to ensure that your business will get the most from a cloud strategy. Because although the cloud has a very light technology footprint, it does require a certain degree of support to operate efficiently. 

That’s where a managed service provider comes in. Managed service providers, or MSPs, offer access to a wide variety of cloud services for a monthly subscription rate, along with the IT support needed to ensure your cloud strategy is successful.

In addition to delivering access to a variety of applications and infrastructure as a service,  managed service providers also deliver:

  • Network connectivity
  • Hardware maintenance and support
  • Applying patches and updates
  • License management
  • Malicious software/virus solutions
  • Monitoring systems
  • Data security
  • Backups/disaster recovery/business continuity
  • IT strategy and growth management
  • Keeping historical trend data

Pros & Cons – How to Decide

Business owners often choose cloud computing as a standalone solution in order to save money. However, it can be risky to assume that a cloud computing service provider can deliver the same capabilities provided by a managed service provider. If something goes wrong, you can end up paying more: you’ll pay the cloud computing service provider and then, when the solutions don’t work as they should, you’ll pay again for a managed service provider to figure out why and fix the problem.

In addition, a cloud computing service provider may also charge add-on fees that can bump up the cost of accessing your cloud solutions as your business—and usage—grows. These add-on fees can include:

  • Internet bandwidth consumed
  • Data storage
  • Data transfer
  • Server CPU usage
  • Server memory usage
  • Backup frequency/size

Another major difference lies in control over data and processes. Loss of control over your data and lack of flexible processes can be a real problem when working with a cloud computing provider.

With a managed service provider, you’ll be able to retain more control over your own data and more flexibility about how your cloud solutions are used in your business. Rather than simply offering a tool as a solution, managed service providers look at how that solution fits within your current business and can help you upgrade your processes to comply with best practices.

In addition, because a managed service provider handles all of your IT needs for your business, they can save you valuable time that you can use instead to focus on your business to help it grow. Managed service providers can even be a good choice for a digital-based business.

In short, unlike a cloud computing provider, managed service providers are a valued business partner, not just an application vendor. For more information on managed service providers and how they compare to cloud computing solutions, contact Tolar Systems. They look forward to helping you with all your business IT needs.