Distributor's Managed Services Strategy Comes into Focus

Distributors continue to ramp up their managed services strategies. The latest example: Arrow ECS (Enterprise Computing Solutions) is building out an Arrow Fusion Services strategy that includes professional services, consulting, cloud services, education and support. Within the cloud initiative, Arrow has introduced selected managed services for VARs and MSPs. Lee Fawsett, VP of Fusion Services, shared some updates with me yesterday.

I met Fawsett during an Arrow ECS open house near Atlanta, Ga., where the distributor showcased a new lab that VARs and MSPs can leverage for testing and proof-of-concept work. Most of my conversation with Fawsett focused on cloud computing, with a touch of managed services mixed in. So far, the Arrow Fusion Cloud Services include:

  • Remote monitoring and IT as a service, including managed services. I suspect NetEnrich is assisting in this area, since Arrow and NetEnrich have a business relationship.
  • Security as a Service and Software as a Service: Fawcett described how Arrow plans to line up vertical market SaaS applications for VARs. It sounds like the SaaS applications will be hosted in Terremark data centers.
  • Infrastructure as a Service: Including public cloud services and managed server options.
  • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: Including offsite backup and mirror imaging to safeguard businesses during a disaster.

It’s safe to expect Arrow to add more Fusion Cloud Services in the next few months. Among the potential moves I’m watching: During the Arrow open house yesterday, some Arrow presenters described a relationship with Verio — the web hosting specialist.

Competition Looms

Still, managed services seems to be a small piece of the broader Fusion Cloud Services strategy. In stark contrast:

Generally speaking, I think transforming VARs into MSPs has been a challenging task for most distributors. In addition to identifying best-of-breed software tools for aspiring MSPs, distributors have also worked to educate VARs on recurring revenue business models and MSP sales compensation plans. Cloud computing may accelerate the transition, however, since end-customers are starting to demand cloud services — forcing VARs and MSPs to either develop recurring revenue models or bow to competition.