Managed Service Providers Find Strength in NumbersBy Pedro Pereira | Print
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Managed services is the fastest growing and most profitable segment of the IT channel, but adapting to the business model, delivery systems and marketplace remains elusive. These managed service communities provide the resources and support that will benefit any managed service provider.
When managed services started gaining momentum following the Y2K rush and dot-com bubble burst, solution providers that ventured into this new way of doing business were largely on their own.
The pioneers met with different levels of success, and inevitably there were some false starts. Support was scarce and the vendors that had developed the managed services tools used by solution providers to remotely monitor their clients’ IT systems at first didn’t put much emphasis on partner education and support.
As the market matured, the situation changed. Vendors now offer various support and education packages, taking care to guide solution providers through the transformation from businesses built on project work and product sales to the utility-like, fee-based models that accompany managed services.
In addition to vendor programs, managed service providers (MSPs) now have options in tapping a growing network of industry groups and educational organizations to help them with the transformation from traditional channel business models, develop best practices and embark on the road to managed services profitability.
The three primary industry groups offering services to MSPs are the MSP Alliance, based in Chico, Calif.; MSP Partners in Ottawa, Canada; and the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., which runs the year-old FocusOnMSP Web site. All offer education programs and Web-based resources, and sponsor events throughout the year.
Other organizations, including Ingram Micro’s MSP-focused Seismic division and Do IT Smarter, offer support and education to complement various managed services offerings they have for solution providers. In addition, MSP University offers training and guides, and the MSP Services Network (MSPSN) offers information and gives MSPs a forum to collaborate and share information. MSPSN also holds the annual MSP Revolution conference to address managed services issues and discuss best practices.
MSP Alliance, MSP Partners and CompTIA are membership-based organizations whose primary mission revolves around advocacy. As part of their efforts to raise awareness about the industry and protect their members’ business interests, these organizations put a lot of energy into supporting their members.
What follows is a summary of MSP-focused programs and services from MSP Alliance, MSP Partners and CompTIA’s FocusOnMSP.