An Overview of Outsourcing IT Security for MSPs

October 20, 2021 Melanie Purkis

It is a dilemma that many managed services providers (MSPs) face: outsourcing network security to an external partner or providing security in house. 

On the one hand, outsourcing security to a partner can free up the MSP to focus on its core competencies and deliver the best service to customers. On the other hand, outsourcing security to a third party means giving up control and not necessarily knowing what is happening. 

Does an MSP really want another company providing something as important as client security?

In-House Security vs Outsourcing Security: How to Choose

When deciding whether to leverage a partner to provide security for your MSP customers, a number of key things should be considered. And while there are valid cases for both outsourcing security or keeping it in-house, the reality is that what is right for your business is likely to differ from what is right for another. 

Your client base, service offerings, and internal resources factor significantly into any decision about using a partner. That is no different when it comes to considering a partner for providing security. Any decision about how to provide security services to your clients should be considered with care.

To that end, here are the benefits and drawbacks of outsourcing IT security for managed service providers.

Benefits of Outsourcing IT Security

Benefits of Outsourcing Security Services

Your Can Focus on Core Competencies

Perhaps the most significant benefit of outsourcing security services as an MSP comes down to freeing up your staff to focus on their core competencies

Asking staff members who are network engineers or support technicians also to lend a hand in security doesn’t lend to the best results for clients. Security is complicated, and there is rarely a one size fits all solution. As a result, having staff members give anything less than their complete focus to security is likely to lead to suboptimal performance on all of their tasks. 

By outsourcing client IT security to a third party or partner, your team can focus on what they do best.

Better Return on Investment

Hiring dedicated security personnel is expensive. According to Indeed, IT security specialists average more than $55,000 salary and bonus a year. In metro areas like Jacksonville, Houston, or Phoenix, the compensation more than doubles to over $100,000 a year.

A third-party IT security provider will certainly have a pricing model that presents a better ROI than hiring your own full-time staff. In many cases, the IT partner will provide multiple security specialists, 24/7 coverage, or other additional resources for a lesser cost than hiring even a single employee on your own.

Higher Level of Expertise Using a Dedicated Security Provider

A third-party IT security firm focuses on security and security alone. That will carry a greater level of expertise and understanding of IT security. 

Your partner will no doubt stay abreast of developments in the space and keep up with industry trends. New tools, applications, and threat vectors will all receive the visibility they deserve from a dedicated IT security company. 

The same cannot be said for a managed service provider responsible for several things outside of just security.

Delegating a Complicated High-Stakes Responsibility

Security-as-a-Service for your MSP customers means you are not responsible for finding, integrating, and managing security tools. Even with security expertise in-house, this work is complicated and cumbersome. 

Add in that the stakes are high when it comes to security, and a third-party partner can deliver peace of mind not just to your clients but to your own organization as well.

Need more security for clients? Download our eBook and Find Out How VMware Improves Cloud Security for Your Clients.

Drawbacks of Outsourcing IT Security

The considerable benefits of outsourcing client IT security to a partner are hard to deny. That said, there are also drawbacks to outsourcing arrangements as well. So before you get too excited about handing off IT security to a third party, it is best to understand how things can go wrong.

Less Control

The first drawback to outsourcing IT security to a partner comes from having less control. 

By giving responsibility for security to another party, they will be making decisions and performing actions without your input and often without your awareness. From response times to IT security policies, most big decisions will be made and governed by your security partner. 

You should be aware that using a partner for anything means giving up a considerable amount of control.

Less Visibility

You will have less visibility into how decisions are being made and how alerts or threats are addressed. In some cases, this is a good thing, so long as issues are being addressed properly and quickly and security remains solid.

In the event of a cyber attack or an actual data breach, not having visibility or insight into what is happening can be difficult to field. Having to tell clients about the breach without exact details of what is happening while a third-party security provider is solving a critical issue or problem can lead to lost business.

Less Customization

Some outsourced IT security firms can provide service to multiple customers is to deliver the same security service to all of them. As a business model, that certainly scales. 

But what if your clients need bespoke or custom solutions? Ensuring your IT security provider has the Security Add-Ons you need before you outsource is key.

Is Outsourcing IT Security Right for Your MSP?

Outsourcing IT security is a great option for MSPs that want to focus on their core competencies and not have the headache of providing it themselves or managing all aspects of an outsourced solution. In addition, outsourcing your network security will provide you with peace of mind, knowing that your customers are safe from outside threats. 

There are also drawbacks when outsourcing, giving up control over how things happen, less visibility into what's going on, and potentially reduced customization options. The benefits and drawbacks of outsourcing security services need to be weighed before making any decision.

Liquid Web Knows Security

If you are curious about outsourcing your MSP IT security offerings, our team at Liquid Web is here to answer your questions. MSPs utilize our Private Cloud, which is powered by VMware and NetApp and secured by Liquid Web’s 24/7/365 Support. Contact us today to learn more.

Need More Security for Clients? Download Our eBook and Find Out How VMware Improves Cloud Security for Your Clients.
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About the Author

Melanie Purkis

Melanie Purkis is the Director of Liquid Web's Managed Hosting Products & Services. Melanie has more than 25 years of experience with professional leadership, project management, process development, and technical support experience in the IT industry.

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