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MSPexcellence aims to help cloud computing service providers, wannabes

Cloud provider advisory group MSPexcellence has established a community for solution providers that want to become cloud computing service providers.

Targeting VARs, systems integrators, managed service providers and cloud services providers, CSPcommunity, launched this week, is an online information and education site, and network of industry professionals devoted to helping partners with any level of cloud savvy learn how to build a robust cloud services practice and transition to a reoccurring revenue business model.

Started by high-tech sales and marketing veterans Todd Hussey and Dave Zwicker, co-founders and partners of Andover, Mass.-based MSPexcellence, a business building consultancy for managed services providers (MSPs) and cloud computing service providers, CSPcommunity offers three levels of membership, or business building models for becoming a cloud computing service provider (CSP): Silver, Gold and Platinum. The membership levels correspond to a variety of resources, from the fundamentals of learning what cloud means to a partner's business, to transforming and operating a successful cloud service provider business.

"We took everything we learned from our recent partnership with Google -- to help Google Apps Resellers build a CSP business based on Google Apps for Business -- productized it and put that knowledge into the CSPcommunity," Hussey said.

That knowledge includes best practices for addressing what Hussey described as the four stages of growth in the lifecycle of a CSP: go-to market, service pricing, sales process and performance management.

The CSPcommunity site includes a blog written by Hussey and Zwicker, industry news, business transformation resources, a vendor directory, a vendor technology spotlight module and a virtual peer group. Access to content, tools and education varies depending on the level of membership, beginning with a no-cost Silver membership.

Silver members get access to blogs, the vendor directory and vendor spotlight pages, and receive a monthly roll-up of industry news and events in the CSPcommunity newsletter.

Gold and Platinum memberships are fee-based. Gold members pay $49 per month, or $495 for a prepaid annual membership; and a Platinum membership is $199 per month, or $1,995 for a prepaid annual membership.

Gold members get access to a "virtual peer group," including forums, weekly online sessions and a group library, in addition to Silver membership resources.

For more mature partners ready to transform their business from value-added reseller (VAR) or MSP to a scalable CSP business, the Platinum membership includes enrollment into the Business Transformation Program (BTP), on top of all other resources.

The BTP includes a self-assessment questionnaire to determine business readiness for becoming a cloud computing service provider; business-building blueprints that are based on what Hussey and Zwicker learned in their partnership with Google; and education resources such as online video tutorials and three hours of direct business coaching from MSPexcellence consultants.

According to Hussey, MSPexcellence is in the process of bringing on board additional consultants who will, for a fee, be available for CSPcommunity members that want help transforming into a CSP.

Hussey is also in talks with vendors to populate the directory.

This week, Asigra Inc., a cloud backup, recovery and restoration vendor, participated in the first CSPcommunity educational webinar, How to eliminate the business risks of becoming a cloud backup services provider.

The educational sessions, scheduled for Wednesdays at 12 p.m. EST, are open to Gold and Platinum members. The interactive webinars are recorded and posted on the CSPcommunity site.

The worldwide cloud services market is estimated at $131 billion in 2013, according to Gartner Inc. While that figure includes a wide variety of cloud service market sub segments, it nevertheless reinforces the stark reality that business transformation that includes adding cloud services to a business portfolio is a must for channel partners, sooner or later.

The learning curve is steep and scary for many partners who may not be doing anything related to cloud services or are not educated enough to think about transforming their business, Hussey said.

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