MSPs: Rolling Out Managed Unified Communications, VoIP?

MSPs: Rolling Out Managed Unified Communications, VoIP?

For many managed services providers (MSPs), proactively monitoring PCs and servers is old news. Looking ahead, it seems like a growing number of MSPs are expanding their focus to managed unified communications and maybe even hosted PBX services. And companies like Cisco Systems, Intermedia, N-able, NetEnrich, Parallels and Tigerpaw Software are more than happy to accelerate the trend. Here's the update -- including the latest move by NetEnrich CEO Raju Chekuri (pictured).

First, the hard news. NetEnrich, which specializes in IT as a Service for solutions providers, has launched a networking practice to help MSPs proactively manage unified communications. NetEnrich's Chekuri and Senior VP/General Manager Justin Crotty are discussing the effort at this week's XChange Solution Provider conference in Orlando, Fla.

The NetEnrich effort includes a Networking Practice Aid level for 24 x 7 x 365 monitoring, alert triaging, validation and standard operating procedure (SOP)-based remediation of server or device issues. Next up, the NetEnrich Networking Practice Manage level offers problem remediation and root cause analysis, coupled with ongoing identification and documentation of the Unified Communications or VoIP environment.

All Together Now

The NetEnrich efforts reinforce a larger trend within the managed services market. A growing number of MSPs are blending unified communications product sales with proactive managed services. The trend was widely discussed last week at Cisco Partner Summit. True believers in managed unified communications include Connected WorkPlace Solutions (CWPS), a Cisco partner in Washington, D.C.

Jason Waldrop, CEO of CWPS, confirmed plans to promote Cisco's new unified communications platforms into the SMB market. But Waldrop also conceded that he has yet to find a hosted PBX service that he feels comfortable promoting to his clientele.

Meanwhile, a growing list of MSP-centric software companies and service providers are promoting unified communications and VoIP strategies to the channel. They include:
Overall, the message seems clear: Yes, SMB customers still need proactive management of notebooks, desktops and servers. But the vast majority of MSPs already offer such services -- making it difficult to stand out in the SMB crowd. Meanwhile, managed unified communications and VoIP services could be one way for MSPs to differentiate...

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