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I believe this is a reasonably fair question. If you are also one of the confused parties, know that this is a very common confusion across many tech professionals.
What is Managed Services?
Although the service has been prevalent since the 1990s, a lot of tech companies and professionals started to take notice, making it a talking point within the tech community. This started to happen somewhere in the late 2000s. It was more or less the same era when “Cloud Computing” also started gaining the popularity beyond the expectations of some, courtesy of insane amount of expansion and proliferation of internet users, both commercial and enterprises alike. Where Cloud Computing was beginning to being catered to consumers, managed services was and is meant to cater enterprises and other businesses.
The term Managed Services means precisely like it sounds, it helps you in “Managing” your “Services”. Certain businesses offer other enterprises to help manage certain services for them. The enterprise outsources a particular function to be managed, manually, by some companies who provide such services. These companies are referred to as Managed Service Providers, or MSP’s. When I say manually, it means that the managed service provider literally takes the responsibility to manage the decided functions from their end so the client can focus on managing the business rather than spending time and resources on a function.
Some of these functions outsourced may include, hardware support, software maintenance, network monitoring, data backup and so on.
How is it different from cloud computing?
Cloud computing is nothing but another word for Internet, in the sense that the services are offered remotely and these services are available to be accessed from any device connected to the internet. The primarily known cloud computing services are Infrastructure as a Service, Software as a Service and Platform as a Service. Cloud computing deployment models include Private cloud, Public cloud, Hybrid cloud and also Community cloud.
I would like to divert your attention for a second to the fact that I mentioned; “services are offered”. That is specifically what cloud does. It offers you a specific service, it does not offer to “manage” those services. You subscribe to a specific service which is made available to be used by you or your own company resources. Although your company availed these services, it is still responsible for managing them.
Managed Services also come with timely audits, details reports, error logs, issues resolved and other such factors further depending on your SLA’s with your managed service provider. Although you do outsource certain part of your business, please bear in mind that there is a vast difference between MSP’s and outsourcing.
Every business has its own needs which all comes with certain limitations, financial or otherwise. Depending on all such factors, a company should decide between cloud service or a managed service. Although companies today tend to incline more towards cloud based services as they are cheaper in comparison, cost alone should never be deciding factor.