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Level Platforms has signed up its first two partners for a new open approach to delivering managed services. The company hopes that creating an open managed services platform will usher in a new era of modular services.

To help open its services up, Level Platform has published a Web services interface that allows any service provider to easily plug into what the company is calling its Collaborative Network. This capability will then make it possible for solution providers to add new services, or replace existing ones.

The first two solution providers to pilot the Collaborative Network are NetEnrich, based in Milpitas, Calif., and Lebela of South Africa. NetEnrich joined the network to make its services available to other partners while increasing its own options when deciding to resell services provided by vendors.

“The Level Platforms approach gives us the flexibility we need to move with the market,” said Erin Arnold, vice president of Nextstep Networking.

Level Platforms CEO Peter Sandiford said the Collaborative Network will differentiate Level Platforms from other managed services platforms, because solution providers will be able to replace, for example, a backup service from one vendor with another. In contrast, rival platforms are trying to lock solution providers into reselling one offering chosen by the companies that own the platforms.

To read about Level Platforms tightening its relationship with Microsoft, click here.

Sandiford added that the existence of the network will also give solution providers an opportunity to partner with other companies in the network, such as Lebela, that can provide first line support at price points that are comparable to the support offered by companies based in India, such as Zenith Infotech.

In general, Sandiford said that what solution providers need most from providers of managed services is the ability to easily partner with each other. “No one VAR is ever going to have expertise in all the technologies they need to deliver a total service,” said Sandiford.

Ross Brown, principal of Peak Consulting in Aliso Viejo, Calif., said the strategic value of the Level Platforms approach isn’t necessarily how open it is, but rather the fact that it allows solution providers to better differentiate themselves. For example, solution providers using other managed services platforms are limited to selling the same services that everybody else who has signed up to resell that platform.

“From the solution providers perspective, this isn’t about open versus closed,” said Brown. “It’s about differentiation.”

Editor’s Note: Erin Arnold is vice president of NextStep Networking. She was incorrectly identified as vice president of NetEnrich in an earlier version of this story.