Crotty, Vice President of Services, Ingram Micro North America, was responsible
for the launch of Ingram Micro's brand-new Seismic offering of hosted
managed services. The Channel Advisor team recently sat down with Justin
to get some expert insights into the business proposition behind managed
Are your VARs embracing managed services?
Without question, movement is increasing each month. Specifically, there
is strong interest in hosted offerings for their ease of use, low cost-of-entry
and low-risk profile. We are seeing great interest from our VARs in the
Ingram Micro solution, since the Seismic solution protects the VARís account
ownership and allows the VAR to manage and control the delivery of the
recently asked Level Platforms CEO Peter Sandiford to describe the steps
VARs should follow in moving their business to the managed services model.
Peter is in an ideal position to answer this question, since his firm
has won over some 2,000 solution providers to its next generation remote
monitoring and management technologies.
What is the best business model for VARs to use for managed services?
There isn't one single best way. We have thousands of VARs using our
platform to deliver managed services, and we've found that they have adopted
many different business models depending on the verticals they serve and
the products they focus on. There are lots of different types of solution
providers. Some sell traditional IT products like servers and printers,
others focus on something very specific like IP telephony, some are ISVs
(independent software vendors) who focus on their own application and
want a way to monitor it. The reality on the ground is highly diverse.
A consequence of this diversity is that from our point of view managed
services are whatever our VAR customers want them to be.
Gould, editor of Channel Advisor Expert Insights, looks at the business
logic behind Ingram Micro's Reseller Services Portal.
Don't forget to ask your customer to buy.
That's a lesson my wife learned first hand in her small family-style
restaurant. When she first started out she was a little shy about promoting
her wines and desserts. We used to joke about how much she hated all those
pushy upscale places where they ask you every five minutes if you need
another bottle of imported mineral water. She stopped joking the day she
realized she was losing money even though she had plenty of customers.
It turned out diners really did want that dark chocolate cake and the
extra glass of cabernet. Once she started asking, they started buying.
Gerbs, owner of Ohio regional VAR Quanexus, has strong views about the
real value proposition of managed services for his clients.
How do you define managed services?
When most people say "managed services", they mean the provision
of remote monitoring and management services. And this is certainly a
very important piece of the puzzle. But in a broader sense, managed services
is more than that. It's all about assuring the availability of critical
IT systems and networks and the continuity of the business activities
that depend on them. The key is the SLA (service level agreement) that
guarantees the customer will have a certain level of uptime. Managed services
in the narrow sense is a tool you need to implement the SLA. But you have
to do a lot more to meet a really demanding SLA. There's a big difference
between taking a week to restore the customer's data to the state it was
in a week ago, and taking only one hour to restore it to where it was
five minutes ago. It's a lot harder to reach that second level of availability.
You need a complete plan in place for getting the system back up within
a certain specified amount of time after it goes down. That's managed
services in the broad sense.
recently sat down with Craig Flint, founder of Computer ER and a pioneer
user of Ingram Micro's Seismic hosted managed services platform.
What percentage of your customers do you expect to move to managed
We have a huge list of people we think could benefit from it. It should
work for 85% to 90% of our customers. There are a few that it won't work
for based on their network or something unusual that they're doing. For
those customers we will just continue on the break-fix model of billable
hours. For other customers, in some cases we may have to draw a line in
the sand and tell them we can't help them unless they're on managed services.
But basically we still want to help them, if we bill them at an hourly
rate that can still be quite lucrative. We also have a drop-off business
where people bring in computers for repair, and that may continue, though
it might decline as a share of our total business.
Gould, editor of Channel Advisor Expert Insights, asks how getting a faster
quote from Cisco is like getting a piece of cake at your favorite restaurant.
Know your customer.
My wife is a never-ending source of business wisdom. In the small neighborhood
restaurant she owns, she's learned that remembering customers and their
preferences isn't enough to maximize sales. She also needs to adjust her
prices based on customers' buying patterns. The faithful repeat diner
earns an extra glass of wine or a slice of cake on the house. The large
group that orders its menu items ahead of time obtains a discount. The
penny-pinching couple that splits a salad gets a surcharge.