Options

MSPs

adam220891adam220891 Member Posts: 164 ■■■□□□□□□□
So, I know I've seen this discussion before, but the threads I came across were a bit dated and MSPs seem increasingly more common as time goes on.

I feel like I'm strictly against working at one of these companies and I'm wondering if I'm doing myself a disservice by doing so. My impression is that it's stressful, overly fast-paced, and sometimes turns you into a bit of a road warrior.

We have partnered with two at my current position and now that we've owned the network a bit more it's obvious we've been burned with the config of switches, routers, firewalls, and were oversold significantly on the SAN/VM environment. I feel better about ownership of 'my' network and like seeing the progress of everything.

With that said, I applied to a job listing recently because it very closely aligned with my skill set and was good pay and good location. However, I've come to realize after being contacted that it is an MSP and was immediately turned off.

Is it that bad?

Comments

  • Options
    olaHaloolaHalo Member Posts: 748 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I learned a ton working at an MSP that I likely wouldnt have learned working at a single company.
    Just use it as a stepping stone imo
  • Options
    networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    How employees are treated, whether the job is stressful, fast paced, etc. is going to come down much more to the specific company and culture rather than the service they provide. While I don't have plans or a want to be in the MSP arena myself, I wouldn't be close minded to the idea. I'd feel it would be a disservice to myself to cut out a huge sector of IT because of a stereotype.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • Options
    xocityxocity Member Posts: 230
    I have worked for 3 different MSPs. Each one has their plus and minuses. I have only worked for MSPs so I dont know anything else but I know that each one was pretty stressful and billing hours correctly has always been the biggest concern for the managers.

    I can say that I probably learned more in the last 1-2 years in my current MSP then I would have in any other kind of environment. Its definitely not for everyone and I just see this as a stepping stone for my next position/company.

    One minute you get a weird Java issue for one client, next minute you a get a crazy networking issue. Much bigger MSP's really move tickets around based on skillset but some smaller ones, everyone is really a JOAT.
  • Options
    redworldredworld Member Posts: 35 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I've worked for both large enterprises and an MSP and I feel I learned more varied skillsets with newer technologies and at a faster-pace at the MSP, whereas a large enterprise you're fairly silo'd in what you do on a day-to-day basis. I honestly wouldn't stay for more than a couple years as the turnover rate is generally pretty high, but it exposed me to more networking/security and managerial tasks than I otherwise would have gotten at my previous company doing sysadmin work.

    Keep your options open. The experience was definitely worth it.
  • Options
    markulousmarkulous Member Posts: 2,394 ■■■■■■■■□□
    How employees are treated, whether the job is stressful, fast paced, etc. is going to come down much more to the specific company and culture rather than the service they provide. While I don't have plans or a want to be in the MSP arena myself, I wouldn't be close minded to the idea. I'd feel it would be a disservice to myself to cut out a huge sector of IT because of a stereotype.

    Agreed. MSPs also can offer a lot of good experience. At minimum, I think it's a great way to start off your career to get a lot of hands on experience with different technologies.
  • Options
    kohr-ahkohr-ah Member Posts: 1,277
    Nothing wrong with them really but as above said using as a stepping stone so far has seemed like the best plan. Unless you go in as a senior level then you have seemed to started up high enough that you have the possibility to keep moving up. I learned how to build systems and networks at the MSP. I learned how to stabilize them and keep track of them (documentation, project work, etc) when not at the MSP.

    I wouldn't rule them out either.
  • Options
    mrhaun03mrhaun03 Member Posts: 359
    I worked at one for a year and it was overly stressful and extremely busy. It was by far the most stressful job I've ever been in. That wouldn't have been so bad if I wasn't micro-managed and criticized for everything I did even if it was the right thing to do.

    I doubt I would ever work for one again, but I did learn a lot and gained a ton of experience...so it wasn't all bad.
    Working on Linux+
  • Options
    --chris----chris-- Member Posts: 1,518 ■■■■■□□□□□
    Its the only type of work I have done, so my opinion is probably biased.

    I think a lot of the bad rep has to do with a bad company/employer, which is not unique to MSPs. My internship was for internal IT, that company had the worst policies regarding their employees and had a high turn over. The two MSPs I have worked for had better benefits, better hours and more flexible / work from home options.

    If you are looking for MSP work, I would give preference to one that handles larger organizations.
  • Options
    N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I've worked directly for several MSP's and with a few others. The one thing I noticed which turns me off is the billable hours. Obviously the MSP has to make money, but I have found managers are usually stressed and their primary (sometimes only) focus is employee utilization and billable hours. This is a big problem, the individual is not allowed to really manage his folks. He is so wrapped up into the financials, this is more prevalent at the end of the month for obvious reasons.

    You would think the beginning of the month would be much better, but generally when the manager has cycles he will usually focus on trying to up sell the service offering.

    I've not see a lot of training either unless it's for a partnership with a vendor or at the customers request. ***Worked with a systems team who were required to have A+, even though they just built servers and managed the servers. It was weird but you get my point.

    But overall I think the MSP can be a good thing. If I see an a person with multiple years of MSP experience I think this person can handle stress, that's a good thing.
  • Options
    pevangelpevangel Member Posts: 342
    It really depends on the MSP. I work for an MSP and I'm focused on R&S only. I also don't do any field work unless I really want to for some reason. MSPs can be a great way to improve your skills. You could learn more in an MSP in a couple of years than you would at some Enterprises for 5-10 years. Part of that is due to absolutely ZERO downtime. It can be stressful but it can also be extremely rewarding. I enjoy what I do but sometimes I just need a break because my mind is getting ready to explode. That's when I do field work.

    I definitely wouldn't rule them out even if you ended up having a bad experience at one. They're not all the same except for the ZERO downtime part.
  • Options
    rsuttonrsutton Member Posts: 1,029 ■■■■■□□□□□
    Like anything, you have to find the right company. I've worked at 5 MSP's and done in-house IT for 5 companies; I've been at my current MSP for 4 years. At my company we offer virtually unlimited training reimbursement, no PTO policy (meaning you take what you need), flat fee billing so we are not worried about the hours - this also gives us a natural incentive to get to the root cause of issues and design very stable systems, work from home days, free food, ping pong, parties & I could go on.

    The downside is the pace; it's not for everyone. If you have *really* good time management habits, it's pretty manageable; but I see a lot of new folks come in and struggle.
  • Options
    UnixGuyUnixGuy Mod Posts: 4,567 Mod
    Experience!

    While I didn't work for a traditional MSP, but I worked with a service provider and the experience I gained was gold.
    Certs: GSTRT, GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE

    Learn GRC! GRC Mastery : https://grcmastery.com 

  • Options
    SteveO86SteveO86 Member Posts: 1,423
    I've worked at an MSP for a bit. While it was a very past-paced never stop and go-go-go position, it was also the funniest and best position I ever had. On the flip side of that, it definitely was a lot of work I worked a good amount of 80-hour of weeks, put in and definitely worked a few nights away. However that is all company dependent.

    Definitely a great place to earn experience no doubt about that, at the very least work there for a year or two and get the experience you need and move on. Nothing wrong with that either.

    However a company is a company, I don't think there is anything wrong with working for an MSP. The MSP is only as good as its employees and processes.
    My Networking blog
    Latest blog post: Let's review EIGRP Named Mode
    Currently Studying: CCNP: Wireless - IUWMS
  • Options
    gespensterngespenstern Member Posts: 1,243 ■■■■■■■■□□
    If you are looking more for a safe harbor -- skip MSP. If you eventually want to become a real guru -- go straight to MSP. Working in an MSP is challenging (another word people use here is burnout) but rewarding skill-wise, the bottom line is all IT gods work for MSPs (larger ones that serve nation-wide, such as Microsoft, Accenture, Dell, etc). If you want to be one of them -- work for MSP.
  • Options
    UnixGuyUnixGuy Mod Posts: 4,567 Mod
    ..- skip MSP. If you eventually want to become a real guru -- go straight to MSP. .


    ^^ This 100 times!

    You can learn a lot if you work in a large organisation with a large network but nothing beats an MSP. I noticed something about people who work long time in large organisation, while they have good knowledge and experience (some of them), they lack a broad view; it's hard for them to see things from different perspective because they're used to this one environment and this one way of doing things. While in MSPs, there is always a new environment with a new set of challenges.

    What gespenstern said, if you want to become a guru, MSP is where it's at. Do it for 5 yrs if you can.
    Certs: GSTRT, GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE

    Learn GRC! GRC Mastery : https://grcmastery.com 

  • Options
    N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I don't agree with that at all. If you work in a progressive / agile corporate enterprise you'll have more than your fair share of projects that will push you.

    How about mergers and acquisition? Integrating is always a challenge, that can be 50 - 60 hours a week especially through the peak of the project life cycle. Dealing with downstream and upstream flows is very challenging. Getting departments rowing in the same direction is very challenging.

    To say one is harder than the other is bizarre IMO.

    Again it comes down to each individual department, not even at the company level can you make a judgement call on this.

    I've worked in an HR team (IT capacity) and was on easy street, moved over to analytics, forced to work extra hours and come up with some really challenging solutions.

    Overall I think an MSP is a solid place to work and you can make some good money and gain a ton of experience. The best part about an MSP IMO is the rapid career growth if you are willing to bust your tail.
  • Options
    UnixGuyUnixGuy Mod Posts: 4,567 Mod
    @N2IT yes you can still get experience elswhere but it doesn't really compare. Put it this way, we used to get called when the sysadmins/engineers couldn't resolve the problems. So working constantly on escalations and difficult problems in different environment will elevate your technical skills a lot in a relatively shorter time.
    Certs: GSTRT, GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE

    Learn GRC! GRC Mastery : https://grcmastery.com 

  • Options
    techMLtechML Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 41 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I currently work for an MSP. I like it because it's big and you get exposure to a lot of different networks. We also have room for growth and different types of positions. We have managed IT/jr. Sysadmins, project team/senior sysadmins, linux team, SOC, and cyber security.
  • Options
    VerrucktVerruckt Member Posts: 36 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I did years at an MSP and even moved up to run the show. I also worked with many other MSPs and employees with other MSPs... for the sake of brevity I'll keep it at this:

    -MSPs are good for experience and lots of learning. However, that learning may not be the right or thorough way. Generally things are rushed and cobbled together as opposed to thoroughly thought out, well planned, and well implemented. Why? $$$. You will find money is always the answer over the right or ethical way.

    -MSPs scrape the bottom of the barrel for talent generally. Many have HIGH turnover and burn their employees quick. People get experience and are gone within 3 to 5 years after they realize this.

    -MSPs are not a secure work environment. If you're looking for 10+ years with the company, MSPs are not it.

    The bottom line is: Get your experience with an MSP, learn to do it the right way yourself and keep your integrity and morals, then move on. Outside of that I have nothing positive to say about them. Nothing.
  • Options
    --chris----chris-- Member Posts: 1,518 ■■■■■□□□□□
    @=pevangel

    Just finished a 13 hour day and a 12 hour day for a new client emergency (primary DC **** the bed, IT guy said F'it and left). Zero downtime, lots of stress but I am learning disaster recovery like crazy as well as how to manage other people during stressful times. I cant say I would ever get this experience working for a single entity.
  • Options
    N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    @UnixGuy

    What about working for Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, or Google. I would think those admins/engineers would absolutely abuse most MSP engineers.

    That's not to say I disagree with you, sure company xyz engineers would only get exposed to one environment so that point is taken, but from a talent standpoint I still disagree.
  • Options
    FloOzFloOz Member Posts: 1,614 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I recently started working at a VAR (basically the same as an MSP right?), and could not be happier. There is a lot of travel but honestly it's all worth it. I love being the guy that goes into a clients site and builds out their new network. I'm getting exposure to all the latest tech in the R&S, wireless, and security world. And every client has a different form of implementing these technologies so it even further more gives me better experience.

    Personally I have never been a fan of doing network support duties so working in the consulting world fits my style a lot better. The training is amazing and from I've seen so far the pay is also more. It's nice to finally be on the other side of things and actually making the company money. Since most of the time IT departments are not looked at as the ones that "bring home the bacon".
  • Options
    pevangelpevangel Member Posts: 342
    [@N2ITI doubt those companies can absolutely abuse "most" MSP engineers. We had a Jr. Engineer who couldn't keep up with the pace of our MSP. He left and got a Sr. Engineer position at one of those companies you mentioned. Those companies may be big but it's still one environment which means you have limited exposure. You could be dealing with a small set of technologies, small set of vendors, and small set of processes and procedures. You're also usually working on just one project at a time.

    At an MSP, you get exposed to a lot of things and you could be working on multiple big projects at the same time. MSPs are pretty much paid bootcamps. You learn a ton of things in a short amount of time.
  • Options
    UnixGuyUnixGuy Mod Posts: 4,567 Mod
    @N2IT: it really depends on the environment. Within the same MSP/Service Provider, I know guys who get pigeon holed into supporting one particular technology (or even one particular software that was developed in house). Point is, there is a way to get complacent even in a busy MSP...

    As for those big names, it depends on your role there. Those are massive environments and every location is different (I know Google Australia is not the same as Google California..).

    I think if you want to be an expert, best is to always be in busy dynamic environments, whether you do it in a big one setup or an MSP. And changing jobs strategically is key. Or staying in the same company and moving to different teams, it all comes down to personal goals.

    As to this thread, I think a busy MSP is a great way to gain experience in a shorter time.
    Certs: GSTRT, GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE

    Learn GRC! GRC Mastery : https://grcmastery.com 

  • Options
    bmnaughtbmnaught Banned Posts: 21 ■□□□□□□□□□
    You grow through what you go through
  • Options
    ande0255ande0255 Banned Posts: 1,178
    Yes you want to work at an MSP if you are OK with working your ass off for the pursuit of knowledge.

    In my current role I work on entire network environments from servers to routers / switches / firewalls, and phone systems all across multiple vendor types. I think it would be harder for me to find job openings that don't contain a technology I work with, than to find ones I do on a daily basis.

    And this is after 2 years experience, never even logged into call manager or an ASA before in my life, and now I can troubleshoot them just about blindfolded.
  • Options
    anoeljranoeljr Member Posts: 278 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I was offered a job at one in last November, but they actually offered me less than what I was making at my current job at the time. And I would've been doing the exact same thing for the most part. No sir.
  • Options
    kohr-ahkohr-ah Member Posts: 1,277
    @adam220891

    Based on your original question MSP work isn't terrible. There are ups and downs to it and like corporations every MSP is different. From what I have noticed is there are 2 differents kinds. One you will do all sorts of things (like probably what you saw) and the others you are pigeonholed into a single role and that is your job there. The one I left I know CCIEs that are there that are brilliant at route and switch but ask them to do wireless, voice, or anything else and you get a blank stare like talking to a puppy because they did nothing else ever.

    MSP life isn't for everyone. It usually requires longer hours sometimes and can be stressful. Many times in a lot of them it is hard to move up to a higher role unless you are part of the "good ol boys club". (This isn't the case for all). It isn't a bad thing to be turned off by that point of view as I know a lot of people that did it for 4 - 5 years, myself included, and just got out because while I learned a lot it didn't align well with my life options and choices. I was in good with the company and they liked my work. It didn't pay the greatest until I said I was leaving then a pillowcase of money came from no where, but it wasn't a stable choice for me.

    The benefits to MSPs are you are a revenue more then a cost which usually makes the threat of downsizing less prevalent.
  • Options
    adam220891adam220891 Member Posts: 164 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the replies guys.

    The allure is the exposure to many different technologies, but the work/life balance and potential for being a road warrior is most concerning.

    I'll keep pondering...
  • Options
    --chris----chris-- Member Posts: 1,518 ■■■■■□□□□□
    kohr-ah wrote: »
    @adam220891

    Based on your original question MSP work isn't terrible. There are ups and downs to it and like corporations every MSP is different. From what I have noticed is there are 2 differents kinds. One you will do all sorts of things (like probably what you saw) and the others you are pigeonholed into a single role and that is your job there. The one I left I know CCIEs that are there that are brilliant at route and switch but ask them to do wireless, voice, or anything else and you get a blank stare like talking to a puppy because they did nothing else ever.

    MSP life isn't for everyone. It usually requires longer hours sometimes and can be stressful. Many times in a lot of them it is hard to move up to a higher role unless you are part of the "good ol boys club". (This isn't the case for all). It isn't a bad thing to be turned off by that point of view as I know a lot of people that did it for 4 - 5 years, myself included, and just got out because while I learned a lot it didn't align well with my life options and choices. I was in good with the company and they liked my work. It didn't pay the greatest until I said I was leaving then a pillowcase of money came from no where, but it wasn't a stable choice for me.

    The benefits to MSPs are you are a revenue more then a cost which usually makes the threat of downsizing less prevalent.

    I find that its a "when it rains, it pours" kind of job. I can go a week working on "in house" stuff and doing research then have 3 days of 12+ hours high-stress, "who thought this deadline was a good idea" and "is this backed up somewhere?!?!". I figured (still figure) this is typical sys admin stuff though.

    The take away from this thread should be the employer makes the biggest difference, not the type of work.
Sign In or Register to comment.