As the managed services market continues to evolve, the best MSPs may start to resemble mini-IBMs, predicted Andrew Monshaw (pictured), general manager of global mid-market IBM sales and distribution. Monshaw made the prediction during a sit-down interview with MSPmentor at the Avnet-IBM Partner Summit. Here's the logic behind Monshaw's statement.

First, let me set the stage: Roughly 800 channel partners and vendors have gathered at the Avnet-IBM Partner Summit in San Antonio, Texas. Many of the attendees are traditional VARs and integrators. But there are MSPs here -- such as Tom Greening of i3 Business Solutions in Grand Rapids, Mich. Over the past few years, i3 transitioned to managed services to combat the weak Michigan economy.

Here Comes IBM

IBM's Monshaw is watching the managed services trend closely. And for good reason: Monshaw oversees IBM's go-to-market strategy for organizations with 1,000 or fewer seats. The effort is channel-centric. It sounds Monshaw is mulling a range of marketing and social media steps to raise IBM's visibility within the managed services market. If all goes well, he expects successful MSPs to resemble mini-IBMs -- offering consulting services to customers, and then using the consulting services to create pull for infrastructure, managed services and hosted applications.

Still, Monshaw says IBM needs to raise its voice in the managed services market. "We don't touch the MSP community in a meaningful way right now, and we need to," conceded Monshaw. "In this space we don't have top of mind when it comes time for an MSP to call for a partner. We know we need to show them how to connect their value to our value."

Balancing Cloud and Managed Services

It sounds like Monshaw is mulling MSP-centric moves. At the same time, the company has launched mid-market software solutions as well as a Cloud Computing Lab in the United Kingdom. According to IBM, the lab will "help IBM Business Partners cloud-enable their technologies and gain the sales and marketing skills they need to take advantage of this fast-growing market."

Like MSPmentor has often stated, cloud and managed services seem to be close cousins. Publicly, IBM is talking loudly about cloud computing. But privately, Monshaw is organizing more thoughts on managed services. Stay tuned.

Sign up for MSPmentor’s Weekly EnewsletterWebcasts and Resource Center. And follow us via RSS, FacebookIdenti.ca; and Twitter. Plus, check out more MSP voices at www.MSPtweet.com. And read our editorial disclosure here.