Managed Services Don't Protect Distributors From Slowing Economy

Much like its rivals, Tech Data is making multiple managed services moves. But so far, those moves have not protected distributors from the economic slowdown. Here's how distributors are embracing managed services, plus a financial nugget suggesting the North American economic slowdown is starting to impact distributors.

Tech Data's latest managed services move involves Telovations. Under terms of a partnership, the distributor will offer Telovations' managed voice services to select Tech Data resellers in 16 U.S. markets.

Tech Data has made a lengthy list of managed services moves. The company in January 2008 launched a managed print service with FMAudit, and earlier introduced hosted remote monitoring and management services as part of its TDOnCall program.

Tech Data isn't the only distributor making managed services moves. Other efforts include:

  • Avnet's OneTech Managed services, which are designed for VARs serving small businesses.
  • Arrow in late 2006 introduced managed services to help VARs remotely manage Sun Microsystems solutions.
  • Ingram Micro's Seismic platform, which is among the best-known managed services brands in the channel.
  • Synnex in November 2007 partnered with Kyocera to introduce managed print services, and in mid-2005 introduced managed network services for VARs.
Generally speaking, each distributor is seeking to help VARs more easily embrace managed services. Over the long haul, distributors may also need to help the managed services industry to develop open standards for interoperability, according to one former Tech Data executive.

Think of it this way: As VARs potentially deploy multiple managed services -- potentially from multiple vendors -- they will want a single dashboard to monitor and managed all of those services. The former Tech Data executive points out that open APIs (application programming interfaces) could allow MSP platform providers to plug their software into a single managed services window.

Some MSP platform providers, such as Kaseya and Autotask, have introduced APIs for their platforms. And MSP platform providers continue to strengthen their relationships with distributors.

Still, the managed services boom hasn't been enough to protect distributors from the slowing economy. Ingram Micro earlier has warned Wall Street that Q1 sales are off to a softer start than anticipated. Shares in major distributors fell 3.3 percent to 6.6. percent on the news, according to MarketWatch.

That's not to suggest that distributors' managed services efforts are failing. The more likely scenario is that managed services-related revenues continue to grow at a healthy pace -- but not fast enough to offset the continued challenges involved in traditional hardware and software sales.
TAGS: Technology
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