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What is the difference between IT services and managed services?

While there may be confusion about Managed IT services and IT outsourcing, their differences are in the types of service you get.

IT outsourcing provides one-time IT services as needed and Managed IT services providers help to ensure your IT infrastructure performs optimally long-term.

Business Model

The Managed IT services business model differs from the outsourcing IT services model in that one entails a partnership approach versus a one-off service. MSPs typically put a lot of effort into building long-lasting consultative relationships with clients while finding new ways to propel their businesses to new heights.

In comparison, IT outsourcing handles one-time tasks such as solving issues as they arise versus implementing big-picture plans for future IT goals. Moreover, they won’t take a holistic approach to optimize your IT infrastructure but rather tend to the specific problem.

Maintenance & Preventative Measures

Another difference between Managed IT services and IT outsourcing is that MSPs offer a proactive approach to maintenance and updates. When you partner with a provider for Managed IT services, the provider will monitor and track your whole IT infrastructure to patch vulnerabilities and security risks before malicious actors take advantage of them. They will also keep IT infrastructure updated, running smoothly, and securely while learning to improve operations and take advantage of new technologies.

Essentially, Managed IT services often become an extension of your business, working as dedicated IT departments for companies that need their services. IT outsourcing doesn’t typically involve proactive or preventative maintenance, however. IT outsourcing involves a reactive approach that consists of waiting for an issue to arise before settling into action to resolve the problem.


Costs for Managed IT services often run on a subscription-based model. In contrast, IT outsourcing usually runs on a task-by-task basis. Even if payment is hourly, the third-party vendor for IT outsourcing focuses on specific itemized IT tasks.

For some companies, outsourcing small IT tasks is cheaper than hiring experts for long-term IT needs. Hiring a third-party vendor will also involve a highly specialized IT technician to provide the exact help you need.

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