Gaining a real competitive edge in managed services

At first glance, the Managed Service Provider (MSP) market looks promising. In its Managed Services Market Size Forecast, Mordor Intelligence valued it at US$166 billion in 2018, and predicted it to reach US$320 billion by 2024.

The sheer amount of money being invested in managed services, however, has led to thousands of businesses across the globe trying their hand in the space. These newcomers range from specialist sole entrepreneurs delivering services to a select group of clients, all the way up to multinationals looking to expand their existing product portfolios.

The 2019 State of the MSP Report from Datto also found that almost 100% of the 1,600 MSPs surveyed stated that Now is as good a time as ever to be in their industry. This continued growth, and perceived potential, of the market however doesn’t mean it’s plain sailing for MSPs.

With more MSPs encouraged to establish themselves and join the party, businesses now have multiple options when assessing potential partners. In such a competitive market, it gets harder for MSPs to set their business apart and avoid being forced to differentiate on price.

Perhaps the answer lies in the viewpoint of John Tippett, VP Product at Datto. In the State of the MSP Report, he says: To keep revenue flowing, MSPs should consider expanding their portfolio with services they might not typically think to offer as a recurring service.

The report also found that the top three most critical security offerings from MSPs are anti-virus, advanced firewall, and remote monitoring and management (RMM) solutions. Anti-virus and firewall solutions and services are well covered, but the monitoring and management of database systems is an area that has often been neglected by MSPs. This is despite the fact that advanced solutions can be used to help deliver greater value to customers and give MSPs a real edge over their competitors.

Why database monitoring?

According to Redgate’s 2019 State of SQL Server Monitoring Report, 45% of organizations have added more servers to their estates over the past 12 months and expect this trend to continue into 2020. Importantly, only 11% expect the size of their estates to decrease. As the scale and complexity of estates evolve, businesses are starting to outsource more and more of their traditional IT processes like database monitoring and management.

While the delivery of services in this area has long been a responsibility of MSPs, what this has meant in practice varies and has not always lived up to customer expectations.

MSPs are typically willing to provide feedback to customers concerning high level metrics about the availability and general wellbeing of a database estate, for example, but there is often a reluctance to provide further insights. This might not at first appear to be a concern, but such a reactive approach leaves a grey area with customers when performance issues arise.

Responses vary from MSP to MSP, but they typically fall into two broad categories.

The first is to attempt an ad-hoc diagnosis of the issue and provide something in the way of a fix. If an MSP is not accustomed to providing this level of support, whether due to lack of tooling or time, the response provided will not genuinely be of value.

Quite often, for example, DBA teams will use manually produced scripts to try and diagnose issues that have occurred. Because it’s after the event, it’s frequently not possible and, rather than fixing the problem, the only option is to try and put alerts in place in case it happens again. This leaves customers in a position where they don’t know why a problem has occurred, when it will happen again or what effect it could have on their business.

The second response is arguably even more damaging and this is for the MSP to simply wash their hands of the responsibility, pointing to the finer details of their service contracts as an excuse for not acting. The service delivery team responsible may try to offer a more helpful response and advise customers of ways they can dig deeper into the problem using tools from third party vendors, but this is still stepping away from the issue rather than resolving it.

Regardless of whether MSPs choose to attempt to provide answers through imperfect processes or defer involvement in issue resolution, the result is nearly always the same. The customer is left in the dark and, most worryingly, it raises questions about the relationship with their service provider.

Where’s the competitive edge?

A better approach is for MSPs to take the initiative and go beyond the basic maintenance of server estates to also include effective issue resolution, performance tuning and proactive monitoring. By doing so, they will be able to provide the kind of additional value that enhances their competitive edge and demonstrates the advantages of their services.

To deliver a premium offering such as this, MSPs need to incorporate third-party tooling into their service delivery to give them the ability to provide these additional features without significantly scaling the size of their delivery teams.

Redgate’s SQL Monitor is one option in this space that allows MSPs to easily maintain the health of their customer’s estates with tailored alerting, root cause analysis and an easy-to-use single pane of glass overview of entire estates. Its multi-tenanted architecture and integration with ITSMs and enterprise infrastructure tooling also ensures that the solution can seamlessly fit into an MSP’s existing technology stack.


The continued willingness of organizations to outsource large chunks of their IT operations to third party providers is leading to a growth in the MSP market. This will inevitably result in increased competition and MSPs will have to look for every opportunity available to differentiate their offerings from their competitors.

One obvious way for MSPs to deliver extra value is to provide more detailed and proactive database monitoring and management. Redgate’s SQL Monitor can ensure MSPs are able to deliver a much higher level of service to their customers so that they never question the quality of support they receive.

If you’re interested in learning more about Redgate’s SQL Monitor offering for Managed Service Providers, download a free 14-day fully functioning trial or speak with one of our subject matter experts.