What is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)?

A managed service provider (MSP) is a company that remotely manages a customer’s IT infrastructure or end-user systems, typically on a proactive basis and under a subscription model. Today, the terms “cloud service provider” and “managed service provider” are sometimes used as synonyms when the provider’s service is supported by a service level agreement (SLA) and is delivered over the remotely via the internet.

The evolution of MSPs began in the 1990s with the emergence of application service providers (ASPs), which offered remote application hosting services. ASPs helped pave the way for cloud computing and companies that would provide remote support for customers’ IT infrastructure. MSPs, for the most part, initially focused on the remote management and monitoring of servers and networks. Over time, MSPs have expanded the scope of their services in a bid to differentiate themselves from other providers.

Some MSPs specialize in specific segments of information technology legal, financial services, healthcare and manufacturing. Managed security services providers for instance, offer specialized services such as remote firewall administration, virus protection and other security-as-a-service offerings.

Pricing model for managed service providers
MSPs charge for their services under a number of different pricing models. Typical approaches include per-device, per-user and all-inclusive pricing. In per-device pricing, the MSP charges the customer a flat fee for each device under management. In per-user pricing, meanwhile, the MSP charges a flat fee for each user, accommodating users who use multiple devices. In all-inclusive pricing, also referred to as the all-you-can-eat model, the MSP charges a flat fee for all the IT infrastructure support and management services the MSP plans to offer.
Some solutions providers offer customers with an “as-needed” break/fix model. They will price their services on a time and materials (T&M) basis, billing an hourly rate for repairing a customer’s IT equipment and charging for parts or replacement gear.

Service-level agreements
An MSP often provides its service offering under a service-level agreement (SLA), a contractual arrangement between the MSP and its customer that spells out the performance and quality metrics that will govern the relationship. An MSP may offer a range of SLAs to customers, with the customer paying a higher fee for higher levels of service in a tiered pricing structure.

Challenges of managed service providers
MSPs pay close attention to operating costs and the cost of maintaining skilled employees. Labor is typically an MSP’s greatest expense. To keep labor costs in check and improve efficiency, most MSPs employ remote monitoring and management software to keep tabs on clients IT infrastructure. Remote management software lets MSPs remotely troubleshoot and fix issues with servers and devices.

CCNY Tech is a technology company location in Utica, New York that focuses on the whole lifecycle of information technology. From new or used hardware to service and end-of-life electronic recycling, CCNY Tech is here for your business or organization. We support you on your entire IT journey and act as a true partner in keeping you productive and increasing uptime, while reducing employee frustrations. Give CCNY Tech a call at 1-800-566-4786 for the right IT solution for your organization.

Definition: Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)

A virtual private cloud (VPC) is the logical division of a service provider’s public cloud multi-tenant architecture to support private cloud computing. This model enables an enterprise to achieve the benefits of private cloud — such as more granular control over virtual networks and an isolated environment for sensitive workloads — while still taking advantage of public cloud resources.

The terms private cloud and virtual private cloud are sometimes used incorrectly as synonyms. There is a distinct difference — in a traditional, on-premises private cloud model, an enterprise’s internal IT department acts as a service provider and the individual business units act as tenants. With a VPC, a public cloud provider acts as the service provider and the cloud’s subscribers are the tenants.

How a virtual private cloud works

In a virtual private cloud model, the public infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider is responsible for ensuring that each private cloud customer’s data remains isolated from every other customer’s data both in transit and inside the cloud provider’s network. This can be accomplished through the use of security policies requiring some — or all — of the following elements: encryption, tunneling, private IP addressing or allocating a unique virtual local area network (VLAN) to each customer.

A virtual private cloud user can define and directly manage network components, including IP addresses, subnets, network gateways and access control policies.


Benefits and challenges of virtual private clouds

As mentioned above, one of the biggest benefits of VPCs is that they enable an enterprise to tap into some of the benefits of private clouds, such as more granular network control, while still using off-premises, public cloud resources in a highly scalable, pay-as-you-go model.

Another benefit of VPCs is enabling a hybrid cloud deployment. An enterprise can use a VPC as an extension of its own data center without dealing with the complexities of building an on-premises private cloud.

Despite the benefits of VPCs, they can also introduce some challenges. For example, an enterprise might face some complexity when configuring, managing and monitoring its virtual private network (VPN).

In addition, while VPCs offer an isolated environment within a public cloud in which workloads can run, they are still hosted outside an enterprise’s own data center. This means that businesses in highly regulated industries with strict compliance requirements might face limitations on which kinds of applications and data they can place in a VPC.

Before it commits to a VPC, an enterprise should also verify that all of the resources and services it wants to use from its chosen public cloud provider are available via that provider’s VPC.

CCNY Tech is a technology company location in Utica, New York that focuses on the whole lifecycle of information technology. From new or used hardware to service and end-of-life electronic recycling, CCNY Tech is here for your business or organization. We support you on your entire IT journey and act as a true partner in keeping you productive and increasing uptime, while reducing employee frustrations. Give CCNY Tech a call at 1-800-566-4786 for the right IT solution for your organization.

Definition: Passwordless Authentication

Passwordless authentication is a verification process where a user confirms his or her identity without the requirement of manually entering a string of characters. Authentication methods include biometrics, security tokens and piggybacking off of another application, service or device which has already authenticated the user.

The benefits of using passwordless authentication include:

Improved user experience (UX).

Faster login times into applications or devices.

Less maintenance of passwords required for IT staff.

Reduced chance of phishing attacks, password re-use or password leaks.

Types of passwordless authentication

With passwordless authentication, users are presented with one or multiple methods of signing into an application or device without the need to enter a password. Common types of passwordless authentication include email-based, SMS-based, multi-factor, biometrics or passwordless authentication for logged-in users.

Authentication through email includes verifying a user with a magic link or one-time code. With a magic link, the user first enters their email and a unique token is created for the user and sent to them by email. The user clicks the link and the service being used will identify the token and exchange it for a live token, logging the user in. With a one-time code, a user will enter their email address and an email will then be sent to them with a unique one-time code. The user then enters the code into the service, which will verify the user and log them in.

Authentication through SMS will begin with the user entering their phone number, prompting a one-time code to be sent to their phone. The user will input the code into the service, where the service will verify the code and phone number, and log in the user. However, SMS passwordless authentication may be less secure than other methods of passwordless authentication as SMS authentications have recorded multiple attacks in the past. SMS and email-based passwordless authentication can also log into a service through a second device through push confirmations, using the first connected device as a communication channel.

Multi-factor authentication uses any (typically) three authentication factors to log in a user such as security questions, PIN codes and contact information. What these factors are depends on the device/service.

Biometrics is another common form of passwordless authentication. Biometrics focuses on technology such as fingerprint scanners or face scans. This form of authentication is commonly found on mobile devices such as smartphones. Android devices will commonly use fingerprint scanners (normally located on the power button, back of the device or even under the front display), while Apple devices (which used to use this authentication format) now use face authentication.

CCNY Tech is a technology company location in Utica, New York that focuses on the whole lifecycle of information technology. From new or used hardware to service and end-of-life electronic recycling, CCNY Tech is here for your business or organization. We support you on your entire IT journey and act as a true partner in keeping you productive and increasing uptime, while reducing employee frustrations. Give CCNY Tech a call at 1-800-566-4786 for the right IT solution for your organization.

Definition: Local Area Network (LAN)

A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers and peripheral devices that share a common communications line or wireless link to a server within a distinct geographic area. A local area network may serve as few as two or three users in a home-office or several hundred users in a corporation’s central office. Homeowners and information technology (IT) administrators set up LANs so that network nodes can share resources such as printers or network storage.

LAN networking requires cables, switches, routers and other components that let users connect to internal servers, websites and other LANs that belong to the same wide area network (WAN). Ethernet and Wi-Fi are the two primary ways to enable LAN connections. Ethernet is a specification that enables computers to communicate with each other. Wi-Fi uses radio waves to connect computers to the LAN.

Setting up a small local area network

Operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X have networking capabilities incorporated into them. This means that as long as the network administrator has a relatively up-to-date laptop or desktop PC, it is fairly straightforward to network machines together.

To set up a wireless network, the administrator will need a wireless router linked to a broadband connection and an Ethernet cable that links the router to the main PC or server. This will then allow other computing devices which already have wireless networking equipment integrated or attached to them, to pick up wireless signals and join the local area network.
LAN security

Once the basic network has been set up, it must be secured. This can be done through security settings in the router, the use of strong passwords and frequent software updates. Hardware-based security such as fingerprint recognition, security tokens and full disk encryption can also be used to enhance network security. Additional security software for protecting and maintaining the network perimeter can be installed locally or purchased through a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery model.

CCNY Tech is a technology company location in Utica, New York that focuses on the whole lifecycle of information technology. From new or used hardware to service and end-of-life electronic recycling, CCNY Tech is here for your business or organization. We support you on your entire IT journey and act as a true partner in keeping you productive and increasing uptime, while reducing employee frustrations. Give CCNY Tech a call at 1-800-566-4786 for the right IT solution for your organization.

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