What Happens When An MSP Goes Dark?

What Happens When An MSP Goes Dark?

Internet Applications & Solutions Inc. IASWhen a managed service provider stumbles, you can bet plenty of rivals will swoop in and try to steal the MSP's customer base.

A case in point: When Internet Applications & Solutions Inc. (www.IAS.net) was allegedly booted from its building in mid-December, some customers were apparently left in the dark. Several MSPs stepped in to fill the void, offering special deals to IAS.net customers that wanted to leap to a new hosting or managed service provider.

According to a Dec. 17 story from the Ann Arbor Business Review:

"The eviction this week of a local Web hosting firm temporarily crippled the Web sites of several nonprofits and businesses.

IAS.net lost its office space in the Northern Brewery building on Jones Drive due to "chronic late-payment of rent," said Doug Smith, an owner of the building.

Smith said his attorney advised him not to comment further. But IAS's Web site lists dozens of clients, including the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, Eastern Michigan University Foundation, Zingerman's and Michigan Radio.

IAS owners Arthur Talbot and Kelley Bezrutch could not be reached for comment this morning."
According to the IAS Website, the company has relocated to another Michigan-area data center. I dialed the IAS's main line seeking a comment about the situation, but the phone rang endlessly and nobody answered.

Profits And Publicity?

Meanwhile, several Michigan-area MSPs and Web hosting firms -- including HDL, NEXCESS.NET and Online Technologies -- offered IAS customers special pricing deals and support options during the alleged IAS turmoil.

A spokeswoman for Online Technologies said the company has received several inquiries from frustrated IAS customers, but she wasn't sure if any IAS customers had made the leap to Online Technologies.

Regardless, the controversy in Michigan offers some healthy lessons for MSPs:
  • If you go dark -- even for a few minutes -- the story will eventually go viral on the Web.
  • MSPs facing cash flow issues or office space challenges need their own contigency plans. Partner up with peer MSPs or your vendors for online backup, offsite NOCs (network operation centers) and other redundant services.
  • You can't judge a book by its cover. IAS has a simple, professional Web site that notes the company has been operating since 1995. But that Web presence doesn't guarantee back-end services.
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