MSPs Can Cash In On Convergence Craze

VoIP communications

VARs and MSPs are finding that businesses tend to be less comfortable implementing and managing these systems internally as the complexity of their technology systems grows—for example, adding voice to a data network, or implementing a complete unified communications platform.

"A lot of companies are used to dealing with older telephony hardware and don't necessarily have the familiarity with the newer voice-over-IP infrastructure," said Mathew Hegarty, senior security engineer at Net@Work, New York. "This opens the door for VARs that already have the expertise and experience in voice-over-IP and can manage these systems for businesses either on-site or off-site."

Other factors pushing managed services growth include increased security concerns around unified communications and the need for 24x7 reliability.

"Almost universally among companies, voice is considered a mission-critical application and businesses are coming to us to get the peace of mind that their voice systems are going to be up and running, secure and reliable," said Oli Thordarson, CEO of Alvaka Networks, Huntington Beach, Calif. "Expense is almost last on the list; in many cases clients are allocating additional funds to pay for these services that they were not allocating before."

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Managed services themselves are moving into new territory as a result of the shift toward unified communications, according to The Insight Research Corporation, a market research firm focusing on the telecom industry. The upshot is that myriad opportunities for wireless and wired solution providers will emerge, but only for those that develop the necessary skill sets.

The value proposition for the channel is end to end, and it is the managed services accompanying the platform that will be key to allowing channel players to differentiate themselves and gain a competitive advantage. Under these circumstances, it is no coincidence that VoIP and managed services are ranked so high on the list of technologies where solution providers have the highest sales expectations, according to CRN research.

Moreover, exclusive CRN analysis using sales expectations data from the past eight quarters show that there is a strong correlation between changes in expectations for VoIP sales and changes in expectations for managed services sales.

Obviously, VoIP is not the only factor affecting managed services sales, but it is a significant one. CRN analysis shows that changes in VoIP sales expectations have accounted for nearly one-third of the change in managed services sales expectations over the past eight quarters.

JOHN ROBERTS is director of editorial research at CRN.