What’s the Difference Between a Managed Service Provider and Break/Fix IT?

The managed service provider (MSP) model is not a new one in the tech world, but it’s still a very important and necessary part of service delivery to small and medium-sized businesses.

Many companies that have been around for a while with legacy computer systems are still providing managed information technology services in the break/fix model. This basically involves setting up monthly or quarterly maintenance visits from an IT tech when something goes wrong with the equipment. The problem with this approach is that if you don’t need help, you pay for someone to come out anyway. No value added at all. With managed services, there’s no such thing as paying for techs to sit in their trucks unless they’re called out to fix something on site. Value add is the name of the game for managed services.

The managed service provider will have a standardized system in place that allows all of its subscribers to receive service from a technician anytime, anywhere. That means you get a tech at your site within an hour or two after you call. It’s pretty rare to have break/fix techs show up so quickly. And it also means that the managed information technology company has duplication of systems and data backup everywhere around the country. A break/fix company may have one server room with half a dozen servers in it that are used by every client who happens to be in that regional location. MSPs tend to use virtualization more often than their break/fix counterparts because they’re able to move equipment and data around on demand.

The managed service provider will also offer some degree of security monitoring, 24-7 help desk support, onsite backup and recovery services, email hosting, cloud computing, managed print services and more. One important thing that managed service providers offer that break/fix companies usually don’t is asset depreciation analysis. If you have a Mac sitting in your office with multiple years of life left in it but are still paying for the latest model every year or two, managed IT providers can help you buy out the older computer so you can apply that money to something else more useful.

There are many differences between managed service providers and break/fix IT companies. The managed service provider approach is much more forward thinking than break/fix because managed service providers are often more interested in the overall health of your company’s IT infrastructure. With managed services, you can almost always expect a uniquely tailored solution for your business.