Article | November 6, 2013

Troubled Launch Offers MSPs, VARs Many Lessons

By Manny Veiga, Intronis, Inc.

You may be tired of hearing the word "glitch" and how the deployment of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) website has been riddled with them. However, the troubled launch of the online marketplace continues to offer lessons for MSPs and VARs. One of the latest takeaways involves the importance of developing business continuity plans to address risk.

Down and out?                        
Last week, faced a new problem: a data center outage. A critical data center operated by Verizon Terremark went down on October 27, disrupting consumers' ability to enroll in health care plans, Politico reported. While officials, including Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, claim that the site is back up and running, some disagree. 

According to the news source, a number of its reporters visited the site Monday and were greeted by this message: "We have a lot of visitors right on the site right now. Please stay on this page." The outage seemed to come as a surprise to Sebelius, who previously called the data center a model of efficiency for its ability to verify applicant information across agencies in fewer than 1.2 seconds.

Fortunately, no information was lost, but the incident reinforces why multiple data centers can be a more prudent choice for clients and a key selling point for solutions providers.

Private sector to the rescue            
Perhaps a bright spot amidst the disarray of the unveiling of the website and the subsequent fallout is the underscoring of the value private sector tech experts and solutions providers continue to offer to government departments.

The federal government shutdown may have caused some MSPs and VARs to rethink their desire to enhance vertical diversity by partnering with the public sector, but issues such as these demonstrate the need and opportunities for private sector channel firms.

In fact, according to a recent article from Information Week, HHS is looking to private Web brokers to help the government-administered marketplace, a move which health care expert Bob Laszewski told the source was "great news."

"HHS needs to fix its backend problems before it allows thousands or millions of applications to begin pouring through," said Laszewski. "The backend enrollment problems [...] are so significant that the health plans are not now able to process any volume of applications. Without a fix to that problem we are just going to see tons of enrollments hit a brick wall."

The takeaway for MSPs and VARs: Successful examples aren't necessarily the best way to advance operations. Not only do troubled solution launches offer lessons of what not to do, but they can also demonstrate how to right a sinking ship.