I just spoke with Joe Quaglia, senior VP of US marketing for Tech Data Corp. Quaglia heads up Tech Data's managed services strategy -- known as VARChoice. The conversation gave me a better feel for Tech Data's business plan in the MSP space, especially as it relates to Ingram Micro's Seismic strategy.
I'm not here to say one strategy is better than the other. But as VARs and managed service providers evaluate potential distribution partners, here are some of the key messages and strategies I'm hearing from Tech Data and Ingram Micro, respectively.
While Ingram Micro Seismic hosts managed services platforms for its VARs, Tech Data has made a "conscious decision not to go in [the hosting] direction," said Quaglia. "We're not in the business of building network operation centers because there are too many partners who know that business and have time-tested solutions."
Also, added Quaglia, "we don't want to compete with our vendors" -- specifically, hardware, software and data center providers that offer NOC services.
Pros and ConsI can see both sides of the story here: By providing hosted services, Ingram Micro Seismic provides VARs with a low barrier to entry in the MSP market. (Check out my podcast with Ingram Micro VP Justin Crotty for more info.)
Many VARs simply don't have the financial power or technical expertise required to build and manage a 24x7 data center. Also, some MSPs that have NOCs may still want to leverage Seismic for selected platforms that extend their own services.
Counter PointStill, Tech Data points out that some VARs may feel threatened by distributors that enter the hosting market. With that thought in mind, Tech Data doesn't host MSP platforms, but the VARChoice initiative includes a growing range of MSP platform options that VARs can purchase.
Will Tech Data add value to those platforms? Quaglia points out that Tech Data provides an integration center where VARs can have MSP-centric equipment configured to meet their needs.
Also, Quaglia points to a partnership between Tech Data and IBM Global Financing, which allows VARs to more easily bill customers on a monthly basis. The financing relationship, he adds, can also help MSPs offer hardware as a service (HaaS).
Shame on me for not knowing if/how Ingram offers financing to Seismic customers. I will check in with Justin Crotty at Ingram for more thoughts.