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CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux is warning solution providers that have not yet made the transition to business models based on managed services will soon discover the gap they will need to cross to make that transition is only going to get wider in the years ahead.

Many solution providers have either ignored the managed services opportunity or continue to treat managed services as adjunct to reselling IT infrastructure, adds the head of the IT industry trade association. That will only become more problematic as IT becomes even more distributed in the year ahead thanks to the rise of first cloud computing and soon Internet of Things (IoT) projects, says Thibodeaux.

Solution providers that missed the opportunity to build robust managed service practices around applications and infrastructure running on-premises will soon find it hard to catch up to the next wave of technologies because they “missed a step”, warns Thibodeaux. 

“IT today encompasses a lot more than it did a few years ago,” says Thibodeaux.

The rise of cloud computing, for example, creates demand for expertise that spans both public clouds and on-premises IT environments, says Thibodeaux. Going forward, IoT solutions deployed at the network edge coupled with robotics will reinvigorate sales of hardware systems that need to remotely managed, adds Thibodeaux. Without some existing managed services expertise, it will become challenging for existing solution providers to remain relevant, says Thibodeaux.

The good news is that reliance on managed service providers (MSP) continues to steadily grow, notes Thibodeaux.  While reliance of managed services rather than internal IT organizations by existing companies is steadily increasing over time, almost every new company by default opts to rely on an MSP for essential IT services, says Thibodeaux.

MSPs are continually in a state of transition

Thibodeaux notes that IT channel that managed service providers (MSPs) are a segment of is continually in a state of transition. To enable solution providers to navigate those transitions CompTIA has been making a concerted effort to attract “progressive thinkers” to participate in working groups focused on, for example, Smart Cities, surveillance systems or drone-based delivery services, says Thibodeaux.

Rather than perceiving the IT channel to be in a state of decline, Thibodeaux notes the IT channel is being transformed by an infusion of new technologies that bring with it new types of services being delivered by third-party channel partners.

“There’s always people coming and going in the channel,” says Thibodeaux.

In fact, in many cases those so-called new people in the channel have been around for years. They simply left one company that was too reliant on a legacy business model to join a so-called “borne of the cloud” solution provider, notes Thibodeaux.

There’s no doubt some incarnation of the IT channel will always be with us. But it is clear channel partners that are not delivering managed services to a sufficient degree will soon face an existential crisis. Many channel partners that have not made the transition yet are owned by individuals that simply wind to coast into retirement without having to take on all the headaches that come with transforming an existing business model. Others are simply hoping to be acquired. Whatever the outcome, however, the MSPs that remain will undoubtedly result in a much stronger IT channel than ever before.

Photo:  pisaphotography / Shutterstock.

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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