We understand that Managed Services pricing guides can seem very complex and often far from being opaque. Our goal is to empower you with an honest and reliable guide to Managed IT Services pricing to help you understand and budget.
The IT Support Industry Has Evolved – MSP Pricing Solutions
It seems that the days of calling up an IT support provider whenever something goes wrong with a computer or network related services are fast disappearing. As IT services have become more complex, businesses continue to discover they now totally rely on their IT systems.
IT support providers have also had to implement robust solutions so that enough techs are always available to ensure service level agreements are met. They also need to ensure those techs have received the right training to provide effective support.
This has come at a cost requiring the business model for IT support companies to adapt into a model referred as a monthly recurring revenue model. This new fully managed business model provides for a stable ongoing income stream for IT support companies. This gives them the confidence to “Staff up” and implement systems to cater for the growth needs of modern small businesses and maintain service levels.
Providers offering “break fix” services are either switching to monthly recurring revenue models or going out of business.
The new model is referred to as Managed IT Services which basically means that your service provider actively manages your IT services and enjoys a monthly revenue. The purpose is to minimise downtime and ensure high levels of productivity, rather than sitting back and waiting for something to break.
Understanding Managed IT Services Pricing
Managed IT Services Providers typically provide four types of products and it support services:
- Managed Services Inclusions – essentially any service they provide billed on a recurring basis (typically monthly, quarterly or annually).
- Annuity Services – these are typically items such as Microsoft 365, Software Licensing, and Hardware Warranty Renewals which are resold by an MSP. Note that some Managed Service Providers package these products into their Managed Services offering.
- Products -most Managed Services Providers sell products like computers, printers, etc. on an adhoc basis. Bigger projects like server and network upgrades require a solution design before they can be quoted. Although, some Managed Service Providers will package hardware into their Managed Service packages under the title – Hardware as a Service (HAAS).
- Consulting/Labour services may be included in Managed Service or Project Proposals. Other providers may also offer consulting services for requests that go beyond their usual services.
This guide to Managed IT Services cost will focus on understanding Managed Services. The other elements of an IT support provider’s pricing are easier to understand given the historical context.
Managed Services Pricing Which MSPs Offer
Managed Services are divided into several categories. Service providers may offer bundles or individual services to meet a business’s needs based on the services managed.
Cost of Managed IT Support Services
- Helpdesk support is offered on different plans in blocks of hours per month, unlimited business hours, or 24/7 unlimited hours.
- In-person support is required for certain repairs that cannot be fixed remotely and a technician must go to the customer’s location. Again, this type of support is either provided on a fixed hourly allowance, unlimited business hours, or 24×7 unlimited hours.
There are an infinite number of variations within the industry on how services hours are charged and delivered. Check thoroughly with your provider so you understand what you’re entitled to. Milnsbridge offers all three price pricing options depending on the chosen plan. This is to ensure you’re able to match your requirements with your budget, and not pay for unnecessary support solutions.
IT System Maintenance Services
- Monitoring – providers will use all sorts of jargon to describe these services including remote monitoring and management (RMM) agents. They are referring to installing software on your servers, desktops, and laptops which reports back over the internet to the cloud. The agent provides detailed information regarding the status of the device across a broad range of parameters from hard drive space to memory usage. It also audits installed software applications and their versions including status of software updates. Depending on the provider the RMM tool can simply be providing basic alerting through to comprehensive automation management services.
- Patch Management – commonly known as “updates”, or “security patches”. The majority of providers will include updating of all Microsoft products by default. A limited number also providing software updates for a much wider range of products. These include the Adobe suite of products, and web browsers among other common software.
Service Provider Per-device Pricing
The degree of variation between providers in how they utilise their RMM tool is nearly impossible to determine beforehand. Every service provider will claim to use the tool to ensure the highest uptime and productivity for your employees. However, it takes a great deal of skill and experience to effectively use an RMM tool to its full capacity.
This is particularly true of the remote maintenance automation side of the tool. Automation is responsible primarily for automatically fixing problems as they are detected. This is often without you even realising that something broke which was subsequently automatically fixed. MSPs offer per-device pricing options depending on solutions design.
Something to keep in mind is a provider who is not getting the most out of their RMM will typically compensate with higher monthly charges per user per month. This is because they may be providing more user support than is required which ultimately means more potential computer problems for you.
Managed Cloud Backup Prices
A guide to Managed IT Services pricing wouldn’t be complete without discussing Cloud Backups. Always a core service provided by an MSP is some form of backup solution to ensure your data is protected. Historically this was backup to tape/disk solution with expensive software licensing. Nearly all IT support providers have now transitioned to a “Managed Backup” solution. Server backups are stored most likely in the cloud and charged on a recurring price basis.
MSP pricing for cloud backups are usually charged separately each month for clients.Prices are typically based on the number/type of servers, the volume of data, length of retention. This may vary when options such as disaster recovery or high availability are included. There are a myriad of solutions each with their own merits, but you should look for a provider that has capability for the following:
- Cloud Backup with a local storage option for fast restorations
- Snapshot images to allow for a full “bare metal restore”
- Granular backups to avoid having to complete a full restoration
- Incremental backups to minimise data transfers over the internet
- Lengthy backup retention period to ensure you can restore old data
- Disaster Recovery & High Availability option to restore “in the cloud”
- All-inclusive costs for licensing, storage, support and recovery
Cyber Security Services Cost
IT providers have provided cyber security options in some form for decades as Antivirus (AV) Software. Historically this belonged in the annuity category with upfront services pricing and ongoing yearly license renewals. Nearly all Managed Service Providers have now transitioned to offering AV software on a Managed Services (Monthly Fee) basis.
The cost is typically either added on to the monthly fees or is included as a core component of their Managed Services solutions. Given the growing security concerns around Cybersecurity your MSP may now offer an extended suite of Managed Cyber Security products. But you should check what is included and what comes at an extra cost.
Managed Cyber Security Pricing
- Antivirus Software (AV) – AV software still seems to be offered by many providers. It is sometimes referred to as Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) software which may or may not include AV.
- Endpoint Detection & Response – EDR is the latest iteration of protection software. It often includes Antivirus protection. EDR typically goes beyond the basic pattern matching and heuristic capabilities of AV. It does this by centrally reporting activity to the cloud. It then uses AI to look for new attacks or unusual behavior to determine if something is a threat.
- Password Manager – This really is a no-brainer these days. Especially since it is nearly impossible to remember complex unique passwords for every login you have. Whilst they can be a little cumbersome, having to authenticate to access your passwords, it does ensure a very high level of security. The trick is to ensure the password manager is designed for business, not consumers.
- Cyber Security Awareness Training – Now considered an essential Managed Services inclusion. It provides a structured education program for all your employees based on an initial knowledge assessment. This is followed by a structured online training program tailored to each employee’s requirements. Also commonly included is actual phishing testing to ensure staff know how to react when they receive phishing messages.
- Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) – Whilst it is still quite possible for passwords to be compromised. The added layer of MFA makes it nearly rimpossible to be compromised, unless you are simply relying on text/SMS.
- Spam/Malicious Email Filtering – This really is a base level component of any cyber security approach. It simply ensures that most security threats are detected and eliminated before reaching your device.
- Internet/DNS Filtering – At a minimum level, protection should be provided by the internet gateway/router/firewall. Also common is an agent running on your device. The agent limits access to not only sensitive material on the internet but also malicious software and remote attacks. These are often included as a Managed Service. Note that it can also be bundled with your internet connection, Managed Firewall or AV/EDR software.
Virtual Chief Information Officer Guide – vCIO
One of the key components which separates Managed Services pricing from Adhoc Break-Fix support is the provision of vCIO services. It ensures your entire IT systems are regularly analysed with advice provided on how to better utilise and manage your IT infrastructure. Hiring an MSP eliminates the need for hiring internal IT staff. It also alleviates the need to hire a Chief Information Officer, providing significant savings to your business.
Many Managed Services plans offer Virtual CIO services. However, some providers may charge vCIO separately as consultancy. For the purposes of this guide to Managed IT Services pricing, here are some of the typical vCIO components an MSP will offer:
- Business Reviews – Often delivered as a quarterly business review (QBR). They are a high-level, strategy review based on your previous quarter’s results. In addition they provide an implementation plan for future goals for the next quarter, and the year beyond. A QBR might me too onerous on a small business. Providers will often use the reviews to sell you more products. At a minimum though, we recommend at least conducting an annual review and budget meeting to plan for the year ahead.
- Performance Monitoring – RMM management agents running on customer devices collects performance data. Agents provide alerts to your provider if any of your infrastructure is approaching capacity. They also report performance limits allowing for recommendations on services managed to be provided on an ongoing basis.
- Security Landscape – Cyber Security is a rapidly changing environment. It requires ongoing assessment, and the provision of advice and configuration changes to protect your business. A key vCIO function is to continuously monitor not only the landscape, but also how changes will affect your business.
This guide to Managed IT Services pricing is a work in progress, come back regularly and check for updates and new Managed Services Inclusions.
To discuss any aspect of this price guide to Managed IT Services pricing please contact us for more information, simply call 1300 300 293 to chat to one of our friendly MSP services team.