MSP vs MSSP: What’s The Difference?

MSPs refer to managed service providers, who offer a wide range of services to their clients. MSSPs, on the other hand, are managed security service providers, who focus exclusively on cybersecurity.

People often conceptualize MSPs as ‘jack of all trades’ providers, while MSSPs are seen as more specialized and focused. However, this is not always the case – there are many MSPs that offer robust cybersecurity services as well.

Still, there are some key differences between these two types of providers, and it’s worth understanding if you’re going to outsource your IT needs. Additionally, there’s confusion prevalent in how MSPs provide security that’s worth disentangling. We’ll cover both in this short, but informative article.

Let’s get started!


To begin, the differences between MSPs and MSSPs are fairly straightforward. 

MSPs provide a general offering: managed IT services. This can include a wide range of offerings, such as remote monitoring and management, on-premises hardware management, backup and disaster recovery, and more. As generalists, MSPs typically have a wide range of skills and services to offer their clients.

MSSPs, on the other hand, provides a suite of security services. This can include everything from vulnerability scanning and intrusion detection/prevention to firewalls and email security. MSSPs are specialists in security and often have years of experience in the field.

Another key difference is that MSPs are typically focused on small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMBs), while MSSPs often serve businesses of any size. MSPs usually offer a lower price point due to their smaller size, while MSSPs usually charge a bit more for their premium (and highly specific) services.

Finally, MSPs are typically located in-house at the client’s office, while MSSPs can be either in-house or remote. This owes to the fact that MSPs offer general information technology services, which often require direct access to the client’s infrastructure, while MSSPs offer security services that can be delivered remotely.


On the other hand, MSPs and MSSPs are similar in that they’re both managed service providers. They both offer a suite of services that help businesses manage and protect their networks, data, and devices. MSPs provide general services to their clients directly, while MSSPs offer them to their clients as part of a larger security solution, but both aim to provide comprehensive support.

There’s a considerable amount of overlap between service providers. Both MSPs and MSSPs usually offer:

  • * Remote monitoring and management (RMM)
  • * Security incident response (SIR)
  • * Patch management
  • * Device and application management
  • * Backup and disaster recovery (BDR)
  • * 24/7 support

They also both use a variety of technologies to provide these services, including cloud-based solutions, automation tools, and artificial intelligence (AI). As time goes on, the lines between MSPs and MSSPs are blurring, and many providers are offering both types of services.


MSPs typically have a variety of certifications, such as Microsoft Certified Solutions Provider (MCSP), Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), and Apple Certified Macintosh Technician (ACMT). 

MSSPs, on the other hand, typically have more certifications in security-related areas, such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Microsoft Solutions Associate (MSA).

It’s worth noting that the latter certifications are usually considered more difficult to obtain than the former, making MSSPs more knowledgeable and experienced in security-related areas. Their highly specific knowledge and skill base make MSSPs a valuable asset for businesses that need help protecting their networks and data from cyber threats.


Generally, MSPs are less expensive than MSSPs. MSPs provide a more limited set of services and are not as comprehensive as MSSPs (in the security domain specifically). That said, MSPs can be a good option for small and medium businesses that do not have the budget for an MSSP.

MSSPs, on the other hand, offer more comprehensive security services and are often better suited for larger businesses. They typically require a higher monthly fee, but this cost can be worth it for businesses that need a more robust security solution. Picture Facebook or Google, for example – they are the types of businesses that might need an MSSP because of the high level of security risk they face, and their large budgets can accommodate the expense.

In closing

In summary, MSPs

– provide a comprehensive range of services to their clients

– are responsible for the overall management and performance of their client’s IT infrastructure

– can be either in-house or outsourced

MSSPs, on the other hand,

– provide security services such as vulnerability scanning and penetration testing

– are typically outsourced

– focus exclusively on security

Understanding the key differences between MSPs and MSSPs is essential for businesses looking to outsource their IT needs. While both types of service providers offer a range of benefits, MSPs are more comprehensive in their offerings, and MSSPs focus exclusively on security.

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