Tech Data estimates that 80 percent of its solution providers aren't engaged in managed services offerings yet, but it's a figure the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor hopes to reduce following the latest developments in its MSP initiatives.
At its TechSelect Partner Conference in Las Vegas last week, Tech Data unveiled a program with IBM Global Financing for solution providers to offer managed services. VARs can now structure contracts with customers on a monthly or quarterly basis for hardware, software and services under a single contract.
With IBM, solution providers now get paid by IBM up front for a project, allowing them to more quickly recoup their investments, while the end user pays IBM on a recurring schedule.
Financing is available for deals as low as $1,000 and projects under $300,000 do not require solution providers to submit end-user financials, according to the distributor.
"In the long run, managed services enable resellers to build margin and enhance profits, but inadequate financing stops many MSPs before they begin," said Joe Quaglia, senior vice president of U.S. marketing, in a statement.
In addition, Tech Data has expanded a partnership with Advanced Technology Services (ATS) to provide the company's ITWatch managed services that include monitoring, maintainance, security and support.
ITWatch offers on-site support by ATS staff or through an ATS partner, an important option for solution providers that want to get into managed services but don't have the infrastructure, or to partners that want to expand their offerings beyond their local reach.
"We spent several months going back and forth, productizing this into something that will work," said Barb Miller, vice president of government, technical and integration services at Tech Data. "We talked to resellers, we did our due diligence. One of the things they have that is unique is remotely monitoring, management and the ability mediate on site."
John Farley, director of new business development at Hoffman Estates, an Ill.-based ATS, said it was Tech Data's idea to include an onsite component to the managed services offerings.
"The key to the whole thing is the relationship we have with Tech Data, We went there with the mindset: here's the product here's how we want to sell it. They said you have a great idea, this is how we're going to sell it. ATS had an approach, Tech Data had an approach to the channel and we put it together," he said.
Using ATS through Tech Data, solution providers can begin offering managed services in less than 30 days, said Jack Freislinger, director of professional services at ATS.
ATS has 2,000 people available to cover onsite calls on behalf of MSPs, Miller said. "Tech Data picked a national partner that has credentials. When we offer a service to the VAR, it's not a service that will blow up or come back to haunt them. We've been offering services to VARs for 15 years now and we are really selective in picking partners," she said.
Also at the TechSelect conference, Tech Data said that more than 150 VARs have signed up for managed services through Zenith Infotech, a Warrandale, Pa.-based MSP platform vendor. It's a number that makes Zenith CEO Akash Saraf happy.
"Tech Data's value is offering more than what we can do. We have a NOC for partners. We have offsite backup service. But [Tech Data] has financing, print management, the things we don't do," Saraf said.
Mark Steiger, CEO of DLP Technologies, of Cincinnati, Ohio, has offered managed services for two years. He said any time a distributor like Tech Data can help evolve his model, the better. "Any time they can understand our business more to work with MSPs, it's nothing but a plus for us. There's not a business that stays the same. It's important that we see ways to change and increase revenue, to do things better," he said.