Weeding the FUD Out from the Value of Managed Services

By Michael Vizard  |  Print this article Print


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Opinion: A virtual trade show, with the rich source of information and content available online and on the Web, might be the key to getting between the hype and fear of managed services.

There 's a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt being spread these days about managed services, usually by parties that fear they have more to lose than gain should managed services become a major business model for the majority of solution providers.

Like anything worth doing, the move to managed services comes with pain and risk because no matter how you get into managed services, it requires a significant upfront investment to be made that is not going to immediately pay for itself.

But you would be foolish to ignore the long-term benefits that a business model based on recurring revenues brings to your company.

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Between all the hype and fear is a reality that we at Ziff-Davis expect to explore in detail during a virtual trade show dedicated to managed services sometime in the late March through April time frame.

For those of you not familiar with the concept, a virtual trade show provides all the benefits of a trade show event without requiring the attendees to actually leave their businesses for three or more days. The show itself is a complete online experience that includes keynote speeches, panels and the opportunity to meet new vendors that have the potential to make a substantial impact on your business.

About the only thing that is missing from these online events is all the alcohol and subsequent hangovers that usually afflict people attending any conference or trade show event.

There's still value in attending events in person, but as we come to the end of the first quarter of the seventh year of the 21st century, it's about time the channel embraced the Web as a medium for doing more than sending e-mail that goes mostly unread.

What the Web really excels at is providing an interactive platform where users can consume and respond to content on their own terms. So with the advent of virtual trade shows, what we're really trying to do is bring the concepts associated with Web 2.0 to the channel.

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And more often than not, that virtual experience has the potential to be a richer source of content because you can instantly compare and contrast what you're hearing at the event with all the other rich data sources on the Web to create informed opinions faster than you could walking around a trade show picking up tidbits of information through a series of anecdotal conversations.

For example, the most important thing we hope you might realize about managed services is that not all services are created equal.

You might wish to spend your time and money investing in managed services for PCs, but a virtual trade show event coupled with some discrete Web searches would make it pretty clear that for a whole lot less cost you could resell a free service from LogMeIn, or two rival paid services from LapLink and Citrix that offer a broader range of capabilities. Either way, reselling what are relatively low-margin PC managed services from any one of these three sources probably makes more sense than building out that entire set of services from scratch.

You could instead invest in higher-margin managed database administration services or security services that should return a handsome profit in about six to 12 months.

What all this points out is a crying need for an event that will help provide a forum where people can do some real intensive homework on the topic of managed services, so the next time that they show up at a live event run by either the Managed Services Provider Alliance association or CompTIA, they will be forewarned and forearmed enough to close some actual deals rather than just aimlessly walking the show floor in the hope of maybe finding something remotely interesting.

Michael Vizard is editorial director of Ziff Davis Media's Enterprise Technology group. He can be reached at michael_vizard@ziffdavis.com.


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