Tech Data To Offer Partners Managed Services For Resale


Tech Data on Monday plans to unveil a deal that would enable VAR partners to resell hosted remote monitoring and management services from MSP InnovationTechs. The MSP services will become part of the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor's TDOnCall program, said Jim Cooper, manager of TDOnCall.

The idea is to give VARs the means to offer managed IT services so they don't have to incur the cost of building their own MSP infrastructures, according to Cooper. "This is a significant advantage for those partners looking to enter the [MSP] space without having to make a significant infrastructure investment," he said.

The deal puts Tech Data in direct competition with other companies offering hosted network-monitoring services, such as N-able Technologies and rival distributor Ingram Micro, which has multiple resale deals with N-able and Alvaka Networks, a Huntington Beach, Calif.-based MSP and solution provider.

Plans call for Tech Data to offer two managed services: NetWatch, which provides rudimentary device monitoring, and NetManage, which offers more proactive managed services such as software updates, security patches, firewall maintenance, network performance enhancement and device configuration. Also available for resale from InnovationTechs is NetScan, a credit-card security compliance service. And, if needed, field IT services can be deployed through Tech Data's TDOnCall group.

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When informed of Tech Data's MSP offering, Kevin Bock, president and CEO of J2K Technologies, a security-centric solution provider in Garden City, N.Y., said he was interested in exploring the new service as a way to add an MSP business. J2K is a current Tech Data customer.

Tech Data will charge partners for the service based on the number and types of devices monitored or maintained in a customer's network, according to Cooper. For example, using NetManage for six servers would cost $197.50 per server per month. Pricing drops as the number of devices using the service grows; for instance, 31 servers using NetManage would cost $110 per server per month, he said. PCs, routers and other devices have separate pricing based on similar schemes.

Solution providers using the service must make an up-front payment of $500, but that cost is reimbursed when partners add their first customer, said Barbara Miller, director of government and technical services at Tech Data. VARs are encouraged to mark up Tech Data's pricing for the service by 25 percent, she said. Jim Ockenden, owner of Visory Group, a Syracuse, N.Y., solution provider, said the price is right for Tech Data's MSP offering.

"We've looked at some other folks on the market, but we don't want to spend $25,000 to $30,000 up front. We decided to create some of our own [managed services], but at heart we're not a development company," Ockenden said. "If Tech Data has a relationship with an organization that has some tried-and-true solutions, that's more appealing than ongoing development of our own."

Visory Group sat through an online demo of InnovativeTech's solutions and was impressed, Ockenden added. "It really is a la carte. We can pick and choose the services most appropriate to us," he said. "We can mark up appropriately to our clients, and we haven't had to undergo development efforts to get there."

Visory Group is reluctant to make a heavy investment in managed services and then not see a return, Ockenden noted. "If you can't deliver them quickly, who knows [what will happen]? Rather than take six to 12 months to develop it and then hope to be able to adapt, we like Tech Data's offering," he said.

Pittsburgh-based InnovationTechs, which has been in business since 2001 and has annual sales of $6 million to $10 million, plans to assist and support VARs as they deploy the new Tech Data service, said Jake Mitchell, the MSP's CEO.

"The resellers won't just get our technology; they'll get an understanding of how to use it," Mitchell said. InnovationTechs specializes in deep monitoring, "not just break-and-fix tactics," he noted.

Tech Data has been working on the new MSP service for about a year and a half, according to Miller. "Do we expect thousands of solution providers to sign up? Not initially. Like all services, it will start and grow over time," she said. "It's another complement to Tech Data's other suite of services."

The new managed services are the first available to Tech Data's general VAR base. The distributor also has a relationship with N-Able for its TechSelect Network, and TechSelect member ConnectWise also offers the distributor's partners hosted professional-service automation solutions.