By Alex Osipov, CTO, OS33
When should an MSP broach the subject of managed services with a client?
Don't make it a one time thing. Implementations are dead. You just can't do that anymore. It's a relationship and you should track it as such. Recommend what you see the industry and competition doing. Frequently work together to review common goals and really think about the lifecycle of the business. Don't wait for a checkpoint such as a hardware refresh. Start the conversation early and you'll see a lot of willingness to plan ahead. Companies want everything to be integrated and if you have a new capability, for example cloud, you should be letting your companies know there is a better way do something.
How can MSPs take advantage of opportunities such as help desk support and vendor relationship management?
Managing vendor relationships is going to be huge. It is potentially not for the smaller MSPs, but everyone should have a rolodex of solutions across many different organizations. This opportunity has the highest growth potential in the next several years. If you look at any research on cloud service brokerage or cloud service enablement, that's what it's all about — tapping into vendors with multiple integrated capabilities. It's a major part of the change in the supply chain and is an early opportunity. Business process outsourcing and staff augmentation is very much in line with aligning MSP services to strategic needs of the end customer. Each vertical is different but there are common denominators. Opportunities differ depending on the client, but the best part is you can manage the relationship with a third party vendor and still deliver value to your client. We see this is really for the larger MSPs that can aggregate a lot of clients under one umbrella. Like the master MSP model, smaller MSPs will need to develop relationships with larger MSPs or cloud service aggregators. This is still early in the game though but definitely pay attention in 2012.