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An increasing number of channel companies are migrating toward the managed services model, and as a result, they want to use technology that works within the model.

At least, that is what Level Platforms, a managed services platform vendor in Ottawa, is banking on. The company has launched a vendor certification program to put the stamp of approval on products that integrate with its platform, which allows solution providers to remotely monitor and manage their clients’ computing environments.

Products with built-in monitoring and management capabilities are candidates for Level Platforms’ Certified Managed Services Vendor Program, said company CEO Peter Sandiford, who said he believes there is a whole lot of technology that may qualify.

“Virtually anyone who sells anything into the SMB [small and midsize business] market needs to have their product monitored and managed as best they can,” Sandiford said.

Through managed services, solution providers monitor and manage their clients’ IT environments remotely over the Web. Providers take over some or all of their clients’ IT functions and bill them monthly for the service.

Managed services providers gain a level of control over their clients’ environments that was previously unattainable, and that includes deciding which products to install at client sites, be they printers, PCs, networking devices or software applications.

The Level Platforms certification stamp will help vendors’ provider partners to make quick decisions on which technology to use, Sandiford said. Level Platforms has about 1,500 partners, who primarily use the vendor’s technology in SMB environments.

“We want to squeeze every bit of advantage that we can out of managed services,” said Jane Cage, a partner at Heartland Technology Solutions, a Level Platforms partner in Joplin, Mo.

“Every time that we can automatically monitor a device, the better off we are,” she said. “Whether we would choose a particular vendor because they are certified by Level Platforms would depend on their overall fit into our offerings.”

Dan Wensley, vice president of development at Level Platforms, said the company’s partners have indicated they are more likely to recommend products to customers that fit with their managed services offerings.

Click here to read more about Level Platforms’ efforts to accelerate adoption of managed services.

“While many vendors have their own proprietary managed services initiatives, these have limited utility in the SMB marketplace where solution providers typically service a large number of SMB customers that require management of 10 to 20 vendors,” he said.

Integration with Level Platforms technology allows solution providers to access the monitoring and management capabilities of multiple devices and applications through a single dashboard. “Otherwise you’ve got 10 or 20 user interfaces,” Sandiford said.

Completing the Level Platforms vendor certification takes 30 days or less, and there is no cost associated with the process. About a half-dozen vendors have already received certification, Sandiford said. They include printer makers Lexmark and Xerox, and SonicWall, a vendor of security and wireless products.

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As part of the certification process, Level Platforms works with software and hardware vendors to develop best-practices monitoring templates for use by providers. SMB customers that buy certified products can be converted to the managed services model more easily.

Sandiford said he believes the certification program is another major step in the transformation of the IT channel into a services-based infrastructure. Vendors that fail to get certified will lose business, he said.

“A few months from now our VAR partners won’t be selling any products not certified,” he said. “Why would they?”