Cross partnering within the services sector is nothing particularly new. Systems integrators have a history of teaming up with similar firms to cover gaps in geographic areas or add skills in short supply. In some cases, the arrangements can be quite free flowing, with companies alternately partnering and competing with each other depending on the circumstances. In the 1990s, such dynamic arrangements were labeled “co-opetition,” a term the late Sam Albert, Ray Noorda and others helped popularize. Fast forward a couple of decades, and MSPs can be found putting their own stamp on service-to-service alliances. Unlike the blurry co-opetition link ups, the latest arrangements seen have clear lines of demarcation.
December alone has produced a few examples:
Lunarpages, a Web hosting provider, this week tapped Latisys for colocation and managed IT services. Lunarpages brought on the colocation and managed services vendor to deal with customer growth and a wider use of high-density applications, according to Latisys. Latisys said it got the nod for providing high-density colocation services and managed security among other capabilities. A Latisys spokesman said Lunarpage’s previous colocation vendor lacked the company’s colo density.
As for overlap potential, the spokesman said Latisys mainly provides data center colocation services and space to customers. The company’s work in managed services differs from Lunarpages’ offerings, he added.
“While managed hosting is part of its services portfolio, Latisys is not a hosting company in the same sense that Lunarpages is,” he said. “So, it is fairly common to have situations where managed hosting providers turn to Latisys to deliver the required density, services and space needed to serve their customers.”
The companies’ services are complimentary from a market segment perspective as well, according to Latisys. The spokesman said Latisys works with mid-market firms. Lunarpages’ Web site identifies personal Web sites, small businesses, e-commerce shops, and Fortune 100 corporations as customers.
Other CombinationsMSPs also pursue joint ventures as another flavor of teaming. Guidant Partners, an MSP based in Nashville, Tenn., has teamed with Maxim Networx to launch New York-based Guidant Associates.
This partnership has a couple of dimensions. First, Guidant Partners will remotely contribute IT services to the venture from its Tennessee base. That situation will let Guidant Associates provide services at a lower price, since the cost of hiring IT talent in New York is substantially higher than in Tennessee, according to the company. One could look at this as a domestic take on nearshore outsourcing.
Maxim Networx, meanwhile, provides the local, on-site support. Maxim Networx also provides the deal’s other aspect: the company contributes its telecommunications systems skills to Guidant Associates, complementing Guidant Partners’ data orientation.
The joint venture company stems from a four-year partnership that had Guidant and Maxim Networx working together with several New York-based clients.
FusionStorm, meanwhile, has moved a step beyond a formal alliance. The integrator and MSP earlier this month acquired a services operation, the Adexis division of Columbus, Ohio-based Cranel. Adexis focuses on systems, storage and networking technologies. FusionStorm said the purchase bolsters its engineering talents and Midwest sales teams.
The deal also provides some cross selling opportunities. FusionStorm said it now can offer managed services, hosting, and cloud computing among other products to Adexis’ customer base.