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The MSP journey starts with identifying skills and vendors

Advice for those looking to move into managed services came out of an online Q&A on the back of MSP Day last month

Choosing the right vendor partnerships and working out how to stand out from the crowd are two of the steps that those traditional resellers looking to become MSPs should put at the top of their priority lists.

That advice emerged from a Twitter Q&A session that was hosted by MSP Day and involved two of the individuals that were behind the recent research that came out on the second annual Day at end of May.

Jason Howells, director EMEA at Barracuda MSP, and analyst Clive Longbottom took to social media to take questions from those keen to learn more about managed services.

When asked about how to make the transition to becoming an MSP the answers concentrated on a channel business first working out its existing relationships and qualities.

"Be a part of a bigger jigsaw: identify all the other pieces of that jigsaw that are required to build the overall picture. Put in place good trust between yourself and the other providers alongside the contract. Ensure the messaging is correct," said Longbottom.

"Differentiate. Use the cloud. Go for composite apps. Go for dynamic integration with full audit and reporting. Embrace the future with both hands. Don't fear to be different," he added.

Howells was keen to stress the importance of working with a vendor that had taken the effort to put support in place for MSPs.

"The key is to establish solid vendor partnerships with people who can do the technology. You need to find a vendor who is dedicated to MSPs and understands your pain points, offering a technology that’s centred around MSPs," he said.

"You can even have it fully managed/white labeled, so you don’t have to tool up or invest in a lot of resource up front. It's a great stepping stone for those dipping their toes in," he added.

Inevitably with MSPs so topical there are dangers that both vendors and partners will label themselves with that badge, when in reality they are nowhere near making the conversion to a services model.

Longbottom advised caution around choosing partnerships but added that in the long-run the quality would shine through.

"It's a bandwagon, and we have already seen vendors taking their portfolio and just saying it's part of the MSP world. However, the market is maturing and these imposters - as with so many other technologies - will fade rapidly," he said.

"However, the traditional vendor will have a long tail death - well beyond when I'm dead and buried. Those who want to stay in that world can do so - and successfully. Just be aware of the dynamics and partner where possible/required," he added.

Other questions fielded in the session included queries around skills and how MSPs could overcome some of the misconceptions customers held around managed services.

On that point Longbottom said that the MSP had to grasp the nettle and understand what the misconceptions were and work through them with the customer.

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