Managed Services and Telecom Agents: Ready to Connect?
The Channel Partners Conference and Expo attracted plenty of attendees last week in Las Vegas. From its telecom heritage, the conference has gradually attracted a larger IT audience as well. Some familiar companies from the managed services provider (MSP) market (Axcient, Datto, Continuum and Zenith Infotech, among others) were on hand. But I'm still not sure how many telecom agents are truly ready to get into cloud and managed services.
Conventional wisdom says the telecom and IT channels are converging. In some ways that's an old story dating back to VoIP's birth more than a decade ago. But the old story has some new wrinkles. Hosted PBXes, cloud storage, mobile computing, metro ethernet and other next-generation services have inspired more telecom agents to look over the fence into the IT market.
But generally speaking, I think the telecom crowd remains largely hesitant — perhaps two- to three-years behind their MSP and VAR counterparts when it comes to managed and cloud services. During several conference sessions, I heard telecom agents raise questions about security and compliance in the cloud. But I think those debates have largely been addressed over the past two or three years. Even financial applications are increasingly shifting to the cloud, as Workday's latest financial results prove.
Still, it was good to see and hear MSP community leaders addressing telecom agent questions. Some agents will surely make the transition into managed and cloud services. But I don't think that wave has gained critical mass just yet.