While there is no shortage of online sites that compare products for end users, the number of sites that provide a similar service for managed service providers (MSPs) has been comparatively slight.

MSP Navigator is now beta testing a namesake service that promises to make it simpler for MSPs to compare and track product updates across 14 different categories from more than 349 vendors that integrate with either a professional services automation (PSA) or remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform.

MSP Navigator sheds light on its service

The goal is to make it easier for MSPs to manage their technology stacks by make it easier to compare products and licensing terms offered by competing vendors, says Victor Raessen, MSP Navigator co-founder and managing director.

Rather than having to visit each vendor’s portal, MSPs will also be able to track changes and updates to those products via alerts they can opt in to receive. Vendors eligible to participate are first selected by MSP Navigator, which will then for fee, will allow those vendors to provide more detailed descriptions of their offerings, along with any partner enablement tools they choose to distribute.

There are already more than 100 MSPs participating in the beta program, with a formal launch of the service expected later this year.

Of course, there are other sites through which MSPs can discover relevant products. For example, distributors provide MSPs with access to directories. However, only vendors that transact business with distributors are included on those lists. Raessen informs us that MSP Navigator intends to make its directory available to any vendor that integrates its offerings with a PSA or RMM platform.

MSPs need consolidation of partner portals

While MSPs would typically prefer to standardize on one product in each product category, most of them wind up supporting multiple products in a category for multiple reasons. In most cases, different classes of customers require different capabilities. It’s also common for MSPs to find themselves transitioning from one product to another over an extended period of time. They may, for example, have acquired a rival MSP that has a completely different technology stack.

Whatever the reason, Raessen notes that most MSPs are finding it impractical to log into multiple partner portals to keep track of changes to product portfolios and channel programs.

As MSPs continue to extend their clout and influence it’s becoming more apparent that MSPs are a unique type of buyer in the IT ecosystem. On one hand, they consume partner enablement collateral to promote a service much like any other partner.

On the other hand, most of them unlike traditional resellers have invested in acquiring stacks of software and IT infrastructure to drive a managed service. Given the level of scale at which those services are delivered, MSPs are among the most exacting buyers of products in the entire IT universe.

Naturally, it’s too early to say whether MSP Navigator will catch on. However, it’s more than probable that some type of a product directory specifically aimed at MSPs will eventually gain traction.

Ready Set Managed

Photo: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

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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