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Resellers and solution providers recognize a competitive threat when they
see one. That’s why they ranked
Microsoft and its software-as-a-service (SAAS) offering as the biggest
competitive threat they face
—not any apps from Google.

Now managed services platform provider Level Platforms is looking to help its
MSPs take advantage of the opportunities created by Microsoft’s launch of its
own hosted Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint services being sold directly to
end-user customers.

Level Platforms recently introduced a Managed Cloud Services capability that
extends IT management beyond just the local IT infrastructure to also monitor
IT software and services delivered from the cloud, according to the company.

“Not only can solution providers now understand how these cloud services are
performing, but they can also now understand and address issues related to
them,” Level Platforms CEO Peter Sandiford
tells Channel Insider. “If e-mail is not performing, they can determine if the
problem is with the hosted app or whether the problem is focused on the router
and server or if it’s the local PC.”

Sandiford points out that many solution providers have viewed hosted Exchange
services delivered from Microsoft and other big providers as a potential loss
of revenue. That VAR used to own the
business when it was on-site. But as it is delivers as a service from another
party, the solution provider stands to lose that business.

However, Sandiford believes there could be a possible opportunity for solution
providers who take charge of delivering that hosted application together with
the monitoring service to end customers.

The market still has a bit of a Wild West feel to it, however. Sandiford says
that hosted services haven’t grown very quickly in the small business and
midmarket business markets.

“The reason why I believe that’s true is that SAAS providers haven’t recognized
the importance of the channel in reselling these products,” he says.

Solution providers may also be resistant.

“Many solution providers know there’s an opportunity in cloud services, and
they know that they need to get behind it and support it conceptually, but many
see it as a potential threat to their existing businesses, particularly at the
lower end of the market,” Sandiford says.

To start, the Managed Cloud Services offering will work with Microsoft’s hosted
Exchange and Sharepoint, and also with groupSpark’s hosted Exchange and
Sharepoint. In addition, it will support Microsoft’s Productivity Online Suite,
Microsoft Office Communications Online and Microsoft Office Live Meeting. But
Sandiford says Level Platforms has many other development efforts under way to
create monitoring solutions for other SAAS offerings.

Level Platforms works with 3,000 managed services providers globally.