There is a lot of interest in such services from "well-established VARs -- not just small mom and pops, but VARs who realize that managed services is a good practice for them to get steady income, and also that these are services they can mark up versus pushing boxes," said Tobie McDuffie, director of software product marketing for Clearwater, Fla.-based IT distributor Tech Data.
These services include hosted Microsoft Exchange 2007 for email, calendar and contacts; SharePoint for document sharing; mobile messing support for ActiveSync, Good Mobile Messaging, BlackBerry Enterprise Server, iPhone and other devices; email archiving; and advanced security services.
More managed services flow through IT distribution
IT distribution specialists like Tech Data and Ingram Micro have started adding more managed services to their offerings in the past year or so. Tech Data inaugurated its practice through a deal with Zenith InfoTech early last year for managed services infrastructure. Tech Data also resells services from N-able Technologies and Advanced Technology Services.
What USA.NET gets out of this deal is access to many VARs it might have had trouble reaching otherwise.
"We have a relatively strong distribution channel already, but it tends to be large carriers or carriers in general and a select number of very large VARs," said Doug Howard, president of Denver-based USA.NET. "What we don't have is the ability to touch the smaller VARs of the world, those with less than 100 people, but still relatively sizeable."
"It may cost us some points and marketing dollars to engage them, but it's worth it to get to a large number of VARs that we couldn't reach individually," he said.
Tech Data also has a presence outside the U.S., which USA.NET may be able to leverage going forward, he added.
USA.NET competes with Intermedia and Verizon in selling managed email and other services to large customers. Its current enterprise accounts include United Airlines and Farmers Insurance.