MSPs Leading VARs in the Cloud?

Conventional wisdom says MSPs -- already hooked on recurring revenue models -- will move faster than traditional VARs into cloud computing. But is conventional wisdom correct? I found the answer by piecing together some anecdotal information from Rackspace and Ingram Micro. Here are the quick details.

As you may recall, Rackspace and Ingram Micro announced a cloud partnership in July 2010. Fast forward to the present, and Rackspace tells me they're enjoying considerable momentum with Ingram Micro Seismic partners. It sounds like scores of Seismic partners -- most of which are MSPs -- are promoting Rackspace's cloud services to end customers. But sources say Rackspace is seeing slower cloud adoption among Ingram's broader partner base, which includes a mix of resellers, VARs, integrators and service providers.

The anecdotes above aren't surprising. But they do show history repeating itself. I suspect only about 10 percent of solutions providers have made the transition from reseller to true MSP. And the reseller-to-MSP wave have been building for about a decade or so.

Many VARs missed the initial managed services waves -- managed storage, managed security, remote monitoring, and so on. Now, Ingram Micro Director of Services Jason Beal is calling on resellers, VARs and MSPs to catch the next wave -- cloud services specialization.

Based on Rackspace's experience recruiting partners, I suspect MSPs will be first movers into that cloud specialization opportunity. Plenty of VARs and resellers -- the masses -- will eventually follow suit.

In April 2010, NetSuite said 2010 was the year of the cloud in the channel. For MSPs, I think that's true. For traditional VARs, I think we're still about a year away. No doubt, The VAR Guy (our sister site) is looking forward to 2011...

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