MSP Looks To Cultivate Its SMB Partner Base3:41 PM EST Fri. May. 23, 2003
|indShift Technologies, an MSP with a twist, is setting its sights on the channel. The Fairfax, Va.-based company is rolling out a program that allows VARs, systems integrators and other service providers to private-label and resell its subscription-based monthly services to small and midsize businesses.
"We've gotten to the point where we're ready to expand our services to a broader market base, and we're ready with a full program to support partners now," said Andrew Travers, recently hired as channel sales director to head the recruitment efforts.
Although some of MindShift's offerings reflect the repertoire of most MSPs, such as LAN and device management, the company has taken on the management of business-class applications (including proprietary software) and the help desk for SMBs. And that's not very common. MSPs often avoid accountability when it comes to the application layer. Many MSPs,and solution providers,also view help-desk duty as a necessary evil that they would gladly turn over to someone else.
Some solution providers, in fact, said MindShift's strategy of handling help-desk and IT management functions definitely gives the MSP an edge. And since MindShift primarily serves businesses with 500 employees and fewer, it's sure to get ample attention, solution providers said.
"They take the whole application layer, even if it's an in-house CRM application," said Amir Sohrabi, executive vice president of MSPX, an Arlington, Va., solution provider. "They are willing to become the first layer of support, which is something we don't want to get involved in but that lets us offer a great value-added service to customers without getting involved in the process."
MindShift's channel program is modeled after a relationship it established with Cincinnati Bell, which began private-labeling the MSP's services last year. Cincinnati Bell brought in MindShift to offer a complete desktop managed services suite in addition to its existing managed router, firewall and VPN services, said Craig Tesmer, director of managed services at Cincinnati Bell.
"We wanted to add desktop management and other IT outsourcing services and determined that the intellectual-capital infrastructure investment in people and resources was pretty significant," Tesmer said. That led Cincinnati Bell to MindShift, he added. "[We] determined it was less of a risk,and a faster time to delivery,if we went with a partner."
Today, with its private-label reseller program, MindShift also wants solution and service providers to rely on its expertise. VARs can resell such services as desktop/server management, security, 24x7 help-desk support, nightly off-site workstation and server backup, network access and high-speed Web access.
To serve customers after its services are implemented, MindShift is seeking solution providers that can provide wireless site survey or cabling services, infrastructure deployment services, customer-premises equipment sales, ongoing break-fix support and business application implementation, Travers said.
"Our goal is not to compete with VARs and the customer relationships they have carefully built," he said. "I have heard many VARs complain about how service providers undercut and compete with the channel. But we are relatively small and striving for growth in a tough environment, so we understand that VARs are trusted advisers to their clients. And we need the channel to view us as a value-added option to their clients, not as a competitive threat."
MindShift's services,ranging from network and application management and monitoring to security and help-desk support,carry only a monthly, per-workstation fee. "It becomes a predictable monthly cost, and VARs and their SMB clients can focus on new business application initiatives and not be bogged down with time-consuming network and connectivity issues," Travers said.