During a discussion at CompTIA's recent SMB Summit in Florida, some VARs mentioned that Cox Communications -- the cable company -- is attempting to push into managed services and develop closer relationships with small and mid-size businesses. Cox isn't alone. Cable companies across the country are starting to offer managed IP services, which means solutions providers need to maintain face-time -- and account control -- with their customers.

If you blink, you could find a cable company seated across from your customer during your next sales call. Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, is offering a new set of managed IP services to customers. The services are based on Outlook, Exchange Server 2007 and Sharepoint. Yes, Sharepoint — which has been a goldmine for some VARs. The services are free for two to eight users, with fees of $3.99 to $6.99 per month for additional users.

There's still plenty of opportunity in the market for VARs. But don't underestimate -- or ignore -- competition from your local cable company.