Vendor partnerships are a key strategic issue in the managed services provider sector. MSPs will partner with vendors to be certified as specialists with those technologies, giving them added clout when working with businesses that want specific solutions. If a company likes the Microsoft Cloud ecosystem, for example, an MSP that is a Microsoft partner will often be best positioned to meet those needs. However, this is the simplest explanation of the relationship that takes place when MSPs develop vendor partnerships. These relationships can vary substantially depending on the MSP and the vendor it is partnering with. As such, it is vital to understand how vendor partnerships impact your business.
Organizations considering MSPs should carefully analyze the vendor partnerships they have to ensure those relationships will benefit them. A few key traits to look for, and to avoid, include:
Something to look for: Special training/expertise
Some vendor partnerships are formed because MSPs have demonstrated a significant knowledge with the specific technologies offered within an ecosystem and have a rare ability to manage those systems with excellence. These capabilities are often documented in the form of:
- Having a certain percentage of staff members achieve a formal certification.
- Completing a specialized training program directly with the vendor.
- Working with the vendor to establish a formal partnership in which both parties support one another.
In either of these cases, the collaboration between vendors and MSPs combines with the close relationship to allow the service provider to provide clear benefits to the customer. The partnership is effectively a badge that proves the MSP can handle specific technologies with excellence.
Something to avoid: Exclusivity
Businesses need to be careful if an MSP has an exclusive partnership with specific technology vendors, forcing it to sell those solutions even if they aren’t a good fit for their customers. Be on the lookout for sales pitches that shoehorn technologies into environments where they don’t really fit. Exclusive partnerships aren’t inherently bad. In some cases, they offer MSPs a unique opportunity to offer low prices while still providing high-performance solutions. The key is to pay attention to when an MSP seems to feel pressured or forced to sell a solution as opposed to recommending a technology platform that it genuinely thinks is best for your needs.
“MSPs offering a best-of-breed approach can provide a unique edge.”
Something to look for: Diversity
MSPs that can offer a best-of-breed approach to deploying new solutions can provide organizations with a unique edge. By mixing and matching the top technologies, these MSPs let you avoid any weak points in a vendor’s system lineup. For example, a unified communications ecosystem that has great end-user features, but poor-performing background hardware, can be purchased in part and supplemented with alternative IT systems, letting you get the best solution possible.
MSPs that have a diverse range of vendor partnerships are often the best equipped to take this best-of-breed approach to deploying technologies. The wide range of partnerships ensures that they have both the access to parts and expertise needed to blend different solutions together.
Something to avoid: Vendor lock-in
Many MSP-vendor partnerships come with perks for anybody reselling the solution. As such, some MSPs may try to push extended service contracts or lock you in to working with a specific technology vendor as much as possible simply to maximize rewards. The relationship with an MSP and the businesses its serves should be mutually beneficial, but companies cannot afford to end up locked-in to a specific vendor ecosystem and lose flexibility. Be sure to keep your options open for future change as your tech needs change over time.
Something to look for: Access to top solutions
Technology vendors are regularly updating and improving their portfolios, and MSPs that partner with them often have the best access to the most state-of-the-art platforms available. A good MSP-vendor relationship can pay off for your business when it ends up meaning that you are ensured to have the best solution available.
Bringing the benefits of a partnership to your business
Ultimately, the potential value of an MSP-vendor relationship comes down to how an MSP uses the partnership to benefit its customers. A few ways these official relationships can pay off for your business include:
- Confidence: Certification provides assurance that an MSP has the expertise needed to meet your needs, eliminating worries that you may have when trying to deploy a new solution.
- Cost-efficiency: A partner often is able to provide lower prices for solutions because of the relationship they have with the vendor, giving you a price-to-performance punch that wouldn’t otherwise be available.
- Flexibility: An MSP with a range of strategic vendor partnerships is able to provide flexibility that is difficult to match within a typical IT department, allowing you to blend different technologies into a whole that is adaptable as your business changes.
The partnership hype that exists in the MSP and reseller industries is more than just marketing fluff. Relationships that are handled well can benefit businesses working with MSPs and give them access to solutions that would otherwise remain unavailable.