[Author’s Note: This post is sponsored by Edgeworx. The content is entirely mine.]

One of the benefits of using a managed services provider (MSP) is the ability to add and subtract services as needed. MSPs typically have multiple areas of expertise that an IT organization can lean on. For instance, the organization could start by using the MSP only for off-hours monitoring and support but then add 24×7 monitoring if resources become thin. The same goes for security monitoring services.

Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) research has found that 36% of enterprises outsource some aspects of their network management and monitoring activities to an MSP. Midmarket companies (44%) are especially likely to outsource network management.

The most popular target functions for outsourcing to an MSP are 24×7 network health monitoring (49%), remote site networking (48%), and wireless LAN networking and support (48%). However, a significant number of enterprises also outsource network security monitoring (35%).

Many MSPs will offer a combination of network health and performance monitoring and network security monitoring. In most cases, the process for adding services is fairly simple. If the MSP is already collecting network data to monitor the performance of a network, that same flow of network data can usually be applied to security monitoring quite easily. Then the MSP can present its clients with a single dashboard that displays both performance metrics and security posture.

MSPs offer a unique differentiator with network security monitoring that enterprise IT organizations will struggle to replicate with their own internal monitoring. Given that an MSP is monitoring multiple networks at once, it can correlate data across several clients to identify patterns. For example, if malware indicators are showing up in multiple networks, the MSP has more context for uncovering the source of the infection.

Markham Ontario-based Edgeworx Solutions (www.edge-worx.com) is an example of an MSP that offers both network traffic analytics, application performance monitoring and network security monitoring. The company has offered network performance and application performance monitoring services to customers for years. And after partnering with cyber-security solutions firm Phirelight, Edgeworx has recently incorporated Phirelight’s rapidPHIRE security analytics platform into its services portfolio as well.

Now Edgeworx can take one passive network data feed from a client’s infrastructure and apply it to both infrastructure performance analysis and network security analysis. Existing performance management clients can add the rapidPHIRE-based network security monitoring service, and Edgeworx will activate it without any need to alter how their traffic is tapped. The dashboard that clients use to review performance indicators will now also provide reports on security posture.

As EMA’s research has shown, outsourcing network operations to an MSP isn’t for everyone, but many enterprises, especially in the midmarket, are using such services. IT organizations that struggle to hire talent to cover certain aspects of security and network operations should evaluate whether MSPs can fill the gap.