TDM is running out of runway. Agents have already switched to selling Ethernet, MPLS and SIP Trunking. What else can they be selling?
Back-up, like Conferencing, is a cash cow that Agents just don't sell. From archiving email per federal regulations to backing up laptops, smartphones, databases, customer records, billing and more "in the Cloud", online backup service isn't much different from Google (see Chrome ad) or Apple iCloud. Access to everything you need through an authorized device attached to the Internet is the beauty to Cloud services, but backing up data is vital to business continuity. How long can a business run without billing records or a customer database? Not very long. Think how flummoxed you are when you lose your contacts in your smartphone. Imagine that contact list was your business. That's why backup is important (to your customers). VAR's are already selling different versions of online backup: their own; a white-label from Remote Backup, DriveHQ or LiveDrive; and a resell of Carbonite (who is hugging Agents right now) or Intronis (who loves the Channel) or Anxient or many others. There are some like SugarSync or Mozy that backup your smartphone and your laptop to the same account.
Managed Security - most of the CLEC's (XO, EarthLink, Netwolves, Integra, Cbeyond), the RBOCs and the ILEC's (Windstream and CenturyLink) offer some type of security offering, usually Managed Firewall, IDS (Intrusion Detection Service) and Network Monitoring. As more data moves to the web (Cloud), security will become even more significant, in the form of email and application security, encryption, event and log management, and mobile device management. For example, Reflexion provides hosted email security, archiving and encryption services exclusively through the channel.
Hosting and email services - everyone has a website or blog; everyone has email. Why shouldn't you be offering those services too? XO started out as Concentric Network, a hosting company. This was Cloud before it was called that. XO sells Hosted Exchange and website hosting. Megapath just rolled out the Microsoft suite. Intercall offers Live365. It isn't big dollars, but it is a place to get your feet wet in Cloud and apps.
Managed IT - remote monitoring of servers and desktops - is a VAR service powered by software like Autotask, Connectwise, Kaseya and GFI MAX. As businesses are essentially dependent upon computers and technology to do business, managed IT services become an option when skilled technical support staff are too expensive, churned or unavailable.
A step past, Managed IT is the remote desktop - aka Desktop-as-a-service (a term I dislike) and VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure). In 1999, Wyse terminals were going to replace desktops for efficiency. It didn't happen (except in the POS space.) Now we are trying it again. MSP's offer this service - with a big fat helping of bandwidth. There are big names in this space, including Citrix, VMware, and Microsoft. There are also a number of providers, like IIS Group, who provide VDI through the channel. Navisite, which TWC owns, just chose Desktone as its DaaS partner.
Next to DaaS is HaaS, or Hardware as a Service. Don't ask me how this is different or how it isn't just leasing. Ask Chartec.
There are issues with selling cloud services - like the service provider's (SP's) financial position; redundancy and resiliency of the SP's architecture; SP's ability to scale in terms of on-boarding new customers properly and scaling tech support for end users; the end users' experiences as cloud services will change some business environmental factors; and licensing issues.
That being said, Agents should be surveying their current customers about the needs outlined here. Why? To get a bigger share of the customer's wallet.
Another way to look at it is: the customer is going to shop these services like he shops T1's, broadband, and voice. He might as well pay you to shop them for him, like he does for the telecom stuff. Get in there!
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One addition, I interviewed VAR Dynamics (local boys from Tampa) at ITEXPO. VAR Dynamics is a private-label Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Cloud business apps provider selling exclusively through channels. Apps include Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft SharePoint, Zimbra, BlackBerry BES, email encryption, email archiving and more. There will be cross-over in what a provider sells. Just as VAR Dynamics sells the Microsoft software and email security, CLEC's that you are already familiar with - like XO and Cbeyond - offer a variety of services to sell deep into your customers.