Now that the economy has tanked and everybody can see the value of selling IT as an operational expense, it seems like every vendor out there is trying to jump into the managed services pool.

For the most part that can be seen as a positive development. But the thing that solution providers should remember is that some vendors are a lot more managed services friendly than others. As examples of that, here are some things that some vendors are doing to advance the cause of managed service providers that solution providers should ask other vendors if they are willing to do as well.

A provider of firewall management software, AlgoSec does not charge solution providers up front to use its software. Instead, a managed service provider can deploy their software for free and then pay AlgoSec a percentage of the ongoing revenue stream over the life of the managed services contract.

Apparent Networks
One of the bigger challenges in IT these days is supporting all the low-latency applications that now proliferate throughout IT. It’s nice to have a tool that can remotely monitor systems and deliver the occasional software patch. It’s quite another thing to have a managed services tool priced below $50,000 that can remotely help meet any given set of application performance requirements that a customer might have.

A storage appliance that bridges the divide between the vale of on-site storage and storage-as-a-service. Designed specifically for backup and recovery, the Axcient appliance drops into a customer’s network to automatically backup files to a storage cloud service managed by Axcient. Not only is it easy to deploy, but Axcient will take care of the billing, has no minimum contract requirements and does not dictate pricing to partners.

Mimosa Systems 
With all the growth in Microsoft SharePoint and data in general, it’s amazing that there are not that many tools available for building archiving services for users of SharePoint applications. And if you add an e-Discovery tool to the mix, it makes for a pretty compelling solution.

A little know provider of managed services platform that is at the heart of new IronPort security service launched by Cisco, the unique thing about Sciencelogic is that it can roll up date from just about any management console into a single master console, which greatly reduces all the complexity associated with offering managed services based on products from diverse vendors.

More than just another hosting service provider, Stratascale allows partners to provision virtual servers and storage with custom applications in minutes using an automated set of IT services that dramatically lowers the cost of labor associated with managing servers in the data center.

Chances are most solution providers have not heard much about any of these companies. But chances are the less you heard of them, the more content these companies might be playing a supporting role to solution providers. In contrast, it often seems that other vendors that profess to love managed service providers also seem to have a strong interest in promoting their own brands. And if you’re a managed service provider, you then have to ask yourself what exactly is their interest in promoting their brand at possibly the expense of yours.

Mike Vizard is senior vice president of market strategies and content services at Ziff Davis Enterprise and a regular contributor to Channel Insider.