A managed service provider, or MSP for short, is an outsourced IT provider. Although they may seem similar, MSPs are different from IT providers in a big way. MSPs work to stop problems from occurring in the future, while an IT provider acts to solve your problems after the fact when you contact them. Looking a little further, for the most part, IT providers bill by the hour whenever they help you with whatever issue you may have.
On the other side MSPs usually have a fixed price that they charge.
Monitoring hardware is a big part of the MSP practices. In doing this they are able to see, for example, when a server is failing. Using this knowledge they can work to prevent this before any major problems occur.
Looking toward the future MSPs are becoming a more important and beneficial part of doing business. By outsourcing a MSP you are able to have more focus on your own business practices, while still having the peace of mind that your systems will run smoothly.
Overall, these are some of the practices of managed service providers, hopefully, this helped you get a better understanding of what they do.