A recent deal involving Internap Network Services and an SAP consulting firm provides validation for service providers that diversify through partnerships, and a warning for those who remain with a narrow range of offerings. The consulting firm, ecenta, selected Internap to provide the infrastructure for the consultant’s hosted contact center, which is built upon SAP’s Business Communications Management (BCM) software. Here's a closer look.

The consulting firm had previously worked with a colocation provider, but determined it needed a broader set of services. Amit Venugopal, VP of sales and board member at ecenta, said the colocation firm provided only the colocation box and no add-on services. If ecenta needed time-and-materials expertise, it couldn’t turn to its vendor.

“We didn’t have that choice with them,” said Venugopal, speaking at an Aberdeen Group outsourcing presentation.

The consultant was also looking for a better disaster recovery plan and expanded uptime guarantees. As a consequence, ecenta went to several vendors and compared services. The company tapped Internap for a combination of colocation and managed hosting services. Venugopal said ecenta went with colocation for the BCM component, since the company wanted to manage the application. He called hosted BCM a dynamic, real-time environment, hence the hands-on approach.

But ecenta’s deal with Internap is partly managed hosting. That approach applies to the database, storage-area network, firewall and networking elements of ecenta’s hosted contact center infrastructure. Internap also offers redundant Internet access as well as expertise in database backup and recovery, Venugopal added.

Peter Evans, senior vice president of marketing at Internap, said the key is to provide continuity across a set of services. He said companies are rushing to cloud computing, but noted that service may not be the right fit for their business models. Evans said a customer, depending on its business, could need a hybrid approach encompassing cloud, colocation and managed hosting services. Other service providers have drawn similar conclusions.

Service providers would do well to revisit their service formulas. According to Dick Csaplar, senior research manager, virtualization and storage, Aberdeen Group, “the practice of outsourcing is accelerating in the marketplace.” He cited the escalating cost of providing IT capabilities as the top driver.

Developing a wider range of services, or partnering to expand services, could help MSPs land  their share of the outsourcing business.

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