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R.I.P., V.A.R.?

If you’re a value-added reseller, I’ve got some bad news for you.

Are you sitting down? You should probably be sitting down for this one.

You ready? OK. Here goes …

You’re dead.

Hey, don’t blame me. I’m just passing the declaration along. It comes from MSPAlliance president Charles Weaver, who told me this week that customer demand and the failing economy are making it impossible for solution providers to be strictly resellers anymore.

grim reaper“The day that many people said was coming is finally here,” he said. “The sure-play VAR model is officially dead.”

With the economy in the proverbial tank, business customers are putting off big purchases — sales that VARs are counting on to make their numbers. But if VARs start offering more managed services, they can diversify their revenue and at least somewhat weather the storm, Weaver said.

A few weeks back, Weaver wrote a tongue-in-cheek blog post, “MSPAlliance VAR Protection Program,” in which he said:

The MSPAlliance is announcing a VAR protection program to help alleviate the pressures these companies have been facing for the past decade. The MSPAlliance will help all VARs eliminate their dependence on shrinking product margins by educating them on a new way of earning revenue. This ground breaking program includes helping VARs add IT services revenues (primarily delivered by the VAR), thereby improving margins and strengthening relationships with clients.

There’s not really an MSPAlliance VAR Protection Program, but Weaver’s organization does offer help to VARs who want to get into managed services. For a real, formal program, the MSPAlliance has turned to Microsoft. The two goals of the new partnership are to educate solution providers on managed services best practices, and to create an MSP certification standard.

If these efforts are successful, there will be a lot more MSPs out there looking for customers. The natural concern there is market oversaturation, but Weaver said he’s not worried.

“I have not seen any demonstrable proof that we have penetrated the business consumer market,” he said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for the MSPs out there.”

VARs, do you really feel the grim reaper lurking around every corner? And MSPs, do you think there’s enough room in your sandbox for a lot more kids to play?

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