MSP Alliance Now Requires On-Site Inspection For Accreditation

MSP Alliance

The rule is part of an updated Managed Service Provider's Code of Ethics and Conduct, a list of guidelines that must be met to graduate from the MSP Alliance's Managed Services Accreditation Program, said Charles Weaver, president of the MSP Alliance, a Chico, Calif.-based MSP industry trade group.

The accreditation program enables MSPs to validate their managed IT services and capabilities for their customers, according to Weaver. Accreditation requires a written exam, professional references, MSP client references, certain financial disclosures and now the on-site inspection component, he said.

"There is a lot of over-reaching by green or immature [MSPs] that are just getting into managed services to try to do everything," Weaver said, adding that accreditation by the International Association of Managed Service Providers weeds out those providers.

The new rule stems in large part from an increase in the number of reports that the MSP Alliance has been receiving from members about MSPs that exaggerate the size and capabilities of their network operations center (NOC), Weaver said. Since remote managed services are beamed into a customer's network from a location the customer may never see, it's easy for an MSP to misrepresent its facilities, staff and capabilities, he explained.

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"A lot of MSP Alliance members have reported to us that there are some competitors, some colleagues, who do a lot of puffery. The question is, when does puffery cross over to misrepresentation?" Weaver said. "We are not trying to be a legal court here. All we are saying is if you want to be taken seriously as a professional, there here are some basic guidelines that dictate how you are going to behave in [the alliance] and toward your customers."

One example of an MSP possibly misrepresenting its capabilities and NOC size is Compulinx. The CEO of the White Plains, N.Y.-based MSP, Terrence Chalk, remains in jail facing federal charges that he conspired to defraud lending institutions.

In a presentation made in October 2005 to Telehouse America, a collocation facility and reseller of MSP services in Staten Island, N.Y., Chalk outlined Compulinx as having four data facilities, more than 300 servers, more than 60 Tbytes of storage, offices on Wall Street and in White Plains, solution labs and configuration centers, and a growth rate of 110 percent in four years. Much of that has turned out to be false, according to several sources.

Before his arrest, Chalk was determined to join the MSP Alliance and secure accreditation, according to Weaver. "He tried vigorously to get into the MSP Alliance. He tried vigorously to get in and pass the accreditation program. But he didn't pass the initial sniff test," he said.

To date, 15 MSPs have completed accreditation with the MSP Alliance, and about 40 are in the process of doing, Weaver said. The alliance has more than 300 members worldwide.