Major Vendors `Nervous` About Managed ServicesBy Pedro Pereira | Posted 2008-03-06 Email Print
Failure to embrace managed services hampers efforts to raise awareness of the model, says Ingram Micro's Crotty.
Aside from Cisco Systems and Dell, major vendors have for the most part done little to nothing to embrace the managed services model, according to the executive running distributor Ingram Micro’s managed services program.
"By and large, big vendors aren’t doing anything yet," said Justin Crotty, vice president of services sales at the distributor. "Cisco’s got something cooking and we’re hip to that, but we’re not having conversations with the HPs and those types of folks."
Yet, the managed services model, which calls for recurring-fee contracts with customers for services delivered remotely, is gaining acceptance. A survey of IT managers by Ziff Davis Enterprise in January found that 39 percent of respondents plan to increase spending on managed services in the next six months.
Meanwhile, Dell has taken concrete steps to build a managed services offering, and that includes the acquisitions last year of managed services platform vendor SilverBack Technologies and desktop management software vendor Everdream.
And while the king of direct sales last fall launched a formal channel program, the vendor has been clear that it will offer managed services directly to customers and through partners. Because of Dell’s history of antagonism toward the channel, many solution providers remain suspicious of the vendor.
But Crotty said Dell’s managed-services efforts ultimately will help.
"I think it’s goodness because it’s going to bring end-user awareness to the market," Crotty told The Channel Insider during Ingram Micro’s VentureTech Network (VTN) this week in New Orleans. "Dell’s got a competitive offering. It’s going to be good."
Dell competitors, in contrast, have kept to what Crotty called an "old-school" approach to by so far forgoing comprehensive managed services initiatives. "They’re still applying kind of an old-school channel program development and distribution-engagement model," he said.
During a presentation at the VTN event, Gartner analyst Tiffani Bova pointed out that major vendors have fallen behind on managed services while smaller alternative vendors have jumped in. She encouraged solution providers to work with those alternative vendors.
Bova acknowledged Cisco’s recently launched managed services certification, adding that other major vendors are "nervous" about the model.
Crotty said if vendors got serious about embracing the model, it would help Ingram Micro, even if indirectly, just by raising awareness. For the same reason, he also lamented the distributor’s main competitors, Tech Data and Synnex, have not done much with managed services.
The Ingram Micro Seismic managed services program, which Crotty said now has 600 solution provider members, boasts a palette of offerings delivered remotely, including systems management and monitoring, storage and backup, and helpdesk support.
Meanwhile, the popularity of managed services is spreading, leading to greater competition among MSPs.
Michael Chaput, CEO of MSP Endsight, Berkeley, Calif., said that three years ago he was usually the first to pitch a customer on a managed services solution. But now prospective customers he approaches often say they have heard from other MSPs. For the providers, this increases the pressure to differentiate themselves and provide value.