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The MSPAlliance introduced a pair of initiatives at its fall conference on Sept. 24 and 25, aimed at establishing a basic level and guarantee of professionalism in managed services providers.

The young industry has grown to a stage that necessitates that it begin standardizing and setting expectations, organization members and officials told eWEEK.

It begins with a Vendor Accreditation Program to certify that vendors selling into the MSP community meet pre-defined principles and creates an ecosystem, in conjunction with Intel, to promote the adoption of the Alliance’s Managed Services Accreditation Program examination and Intel’s vPro technology.

“Throughout the whole landscape, the MSP [managed services provider] model is still a relatively new one, especially for small to medium businesses,” said Raul Mujica, vice president of marketing at Untangle in San Mateo, Calif. “These new programs are a sign of a more maturing industry to have independent industry association laying down some standards across the whole ecosystem including providers, vendors and the technology.”

Vendor accreditation will ease the burden on MSPs trying to decipher which vendors are actually prepared to support the model, said Charles Weaver, president of the MSPAlliance. According to the VAP criteria, vendors must demonstrate financial stability, positive channel practices, product research and development, and MSP customer satisfaction.

“MSPs were getting very confused about companies that merely threw up a page saying I have MSP program but were really just re-using their channel program,” Weaver said.

Seven vendors were awarded inaugural certification—Intel, SilverBack/Dell, ASigra, Untangle, XRoads Networks, LiveCargo and N-able.

The MSP ecosystem, meanwhile, will create a “cross-pollenization of quality business practices and technology,” said Kevin Havre, Intel Market Development Manager.

The MSPAlliance begins a worldwide tour in 2008 to promote MSP acccreditation and MSP solutions on the Intel vPro processor technology, which enables remote PC management and security features, including 802.1x and Cisco NAC networks, Havre said.