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A feud, of sorts, is brewing between two of the channel’s largest
associations of managed service providers—the MSPAlliance and MSP Partners—over
which organization is best positioned to deliver training and certification to
providers in the burgeoning managed services marketplace.

MSP Partners—an organization founded by Level Platforms, Microsoft, Cisco
Systems, Ingram Micro and other vendors—recently announced that it will partner
with CompTIA and Everything Channel’s Institute for Partner Education and
Development (IPED) to create a managed services accreditation program around
its existing training and education materials.

“Our new MSP accreditation exam is another vital step in providing solution
providers with the tools and business level validations they need to grow and
prosper during their business transformation to managed services,” says MSP
Partners Executive Director Jim Hamilton in a statement. “This new exam will be
based both on real world experience and the educational content provided to our
members on the MSP Partners site.”

MSP Partners’ accreditation is similar to a program administered by
MSPAlliance for several years. Members of MSPAlliance are upset by the new
certification, but it’s more than competition. Because MSP Partners is
primarily an organization based on and underwritten by vendors, the value of
the certification is compromised from the start.

“Vendors just have one objective, and that is to sell more product,” says
Bob Longo, a member of the MSPAlliance board and director of sales and business
development at ClearPointe, an MSP in Little Rock,
Ark. “Being associated with a certification
that is established and maintained by vendors devalues the whole certification
system.”

MSPAlliance, which will officially unveil a new certification for managed
services professionals next week at MSPWorld in Orlando,
Fla., believes its certification is
superior to the offering being developed by MSP Partners, since it’s agnostic
in nature, based on the experiences of managed services professionals and
organizations, and tested by field experience.

Channel Insider recently announced a strategic partnership with MSPAlliance
to develop market research and intelligence for managed service providers.
Channel Insider is a gold media sponsor of and in a content distribution
relationship with MSP Partners.

MSP Partners doesn’t discount the value of the MSPAlliance certification. Hamilton
describes the difference between the two programs as “MSP Partners is like a
bachelor’s degree, where MSPAlliance’s certification is more like a master’s
degree."

While MSP Partners was founded by a group of vendors and receives much
support from its vendor members, Hamilton
says the content and administration of its accreditation with CompTIA and IPED
add to the credibility of the certification and the certification process.

“CompTIA is a worldwide leader in the development of IT certifications and
accreditations with tens of thousands of A+ certifications. … As an independent
industry association with an established track record of accreditation exam
development, they were MSP Partners’ logical choice to develop and implement
this element of the program. In developing the accreditation, they worked
extensively with a panel of leading MSPs,” Hamilton
said in an e-mail to Channel Insider.

Tommy Wald, CEO and president of managed
services provider Riata Technologies in Austin,
Texas, isn’t a member of either
organization, but does see the value of a certification to demonstrate
competencies to the marketplace. He dismisses the notion that vendor
involvement detracts from a certification’s credibility, since solution
providers want vendors to recognize their certifications and provide incentives
in their programs. However, he doesn’t see the need for competing
certifications.

“They need to come to a more narrowly defined certification rather than
having multiple certifications,” Wald says. “Certifications lend credibility to
the provider. They need to be standards-based so clients and companies have
more of an understanding of what they’re about.”