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Also fueling conflict is the increase and popularity of MSPs. As the cloud creates an inflection point where VARs and telcos make the transition to MSP, it also creates an environment where vendors also look to become MSPs.
Vendors are eyeing MSP-type businesses for several reasons, Harmon said, including because of trust and branding, gaining a first-mover advantage; and the increase in revenue available through cloud services. And while Forrester recommends that MSPs keep an eye on vendors and pay close attention to increased competition, it is the customer they should keep a keener watch on.
"If I was an MSP what I would be most watchful of is the customer side of the value chain, not the vendor side," he said, adding that as the MSP market has become fractured, enterprises are going to look for an all-in-one offering as opposed from getting various managed services from several MSPs. "They'd like to single-source that."
And as partners build out their own cloud practices, Harmon said the channel can begin offering new services not typically offered via the channel to stem the tide of vendor conflict. New service offerings like application development, outsourcing, smart computing integration, financial consulting and other services could prove to be key differentiators.
"I don't think we've seen the full economic impact of this yet," Harmon said. "This is really at the beginning of its lifecycle, but it's creating a new economic balance between vendors and the channel."