The MSPAlliance initiated its vendor accreditation program Monday, tapping seven companies for their work and business model with managed service providers.
The first seven accredited partners are: Intel, SilverBack Technologies/Dell, Asigra, Untangle, XRoads Networks, LiveCargo and N-Able Technologies, said Charles Weaver, president of the MSP Alliance.
"The MSPs have their own accreditation exam, this is the vendors own exam, saying they will benchmark and adhere to best practices to sell into the MSP community," Weaver said. "They have to display certain amount of dedication towards the business model and have a healthy channel. They must have clearly defined rules of engagement with any sales engagement with end users. They must have a clearly defined and demonstrable product road map and at least three managed services client references."
The MSPAlliance first announced plans for the accreditation program in May and Weaver hopes to have up to 50 vendors tapped with that distinction by the end of the year.
Accredited vendors will get premier placement on the MSPAlliance's Web site and preferred status with the group's 2,000 members.
"By mid-2008, any vendor who is not accredited, an MSP will have to wonder if they're really interested in managed services. It will weed out those interested in it vs. just being part of a project or something of minimal concern," Weaver said. "This is not just having a channel program. There should be special pricing for MSPs and ways to differentiate between MSPs and VAR partners. How do they compensate their sales people [for managed services]?"
Intel is the biggest name in the initial group and chosen because of its vPro technology, Weaver said.
"It plugs into and works with all the MSP platforms: Silverback, N-Able, Level Platforms, Kaseya, Zenith [Infotech]," Weaver said. "I think of it as foundational technology. You'll see every MSP using this technology because it makes their job much easier from a remore management perspective. [Intel] is in a unique position. They have no competition at this level."
The MSPAlliance also announced an initiative to create an MSP "eco system" surrounding the Alliance's Managed Services Accreditation Program (MSAP) and Intel's vPro technology. The two companies will seek to educate small and medium-sized businesses on the benefits of using accredited managed service providers as well as MSPs themselves about other accredited vendor offerings, Weaver said.
The Alliance's accreditation program should help win over more MSPs, vendors and ultimately end users, said Gavin Garbutt, president and CEO of N-able.
"Earning the accreditation elevates the importance N-able places on quality, reliability, support and performance," Garbutt said in a statement. "Our success will always be measured by that of our partners, which is why we will continue to raise the bar and invest in the technology, people and processes necessary to ensure N-able partners are the most successful MSPs in the world."
Eran Farajun, executive vice president for data protection vendor Asigra, agreed.
"It is validation of our continued commitment to serve, not compete against, our managed service provider partners," Farajun said in a statement. "Passing MSPAlliance VAP certification supports our position as a technology provider focused on the emerging managed services market with the ability to execute in this dynamic business environment."