This blog entry has been a work in progress for about a year. Most Zenith Infotech partners have heard of the company's SmartStyle cloud and virtualization strategy. But what's the status of SmartStyle, and what are the potential benefits to VARs and MSPs? Here are some details, which emerged at the Autotask Community Live conference earlier today in Miami.

During a meeting with multiple Zenith Infotech representatives, the company indicated SmartStyle has reached the pre-release candidate stage. SmartStyle will shift to limited production around June 2010 with full production around July 2010, according to Maurice Saluan, VP of channel management at Zenith Infotech.

Initially, SmartStyle will involve an on-premise appliance that allows MSPs to virtualize end-customers' server and desktop environments. But over time, SmartStyle will eventually replicate customer environments into an MSP's cloud, or into a forthcoming Zenith Infotech cloud. Zenith has made two data center investments in North America to bolster the cloud strategy.

SmartStyle's pricing has yet to be officially announced but here's a general feel for how Zenith Infotech thought process so far. Generally speaking, it sounds like SmartStyle will cost about $100 to $120 per month for a 10-user network, or about $180 per month for a 15-user network. It sounds like Zenith Infotech is trying to leave room for VARs and MSPs to mark up the service by about 50 percent.

Zenith InfoTech expects VARs and MSPs to pitch SmartStyle to customers that (A) require server upgrades and/or are (B) want to transition from aging Windows XP and Windows Vista environments. Those types of inflection points, Saluan said, represent ideal opportunities for channel partners to transition customers to (A) virtualized environments over the near term and (B) cloud environments over the long haul.

Reality Check

Still, we've all heard about numerous MSP-centric cloud platforms. From SmartStyle to Kaseya's K2, there are plenty of promising cloud platforms for solutions providers.

But which options will really deliver the goods for VARs and MSPs? Saluan sounds confident that SmartStyle will hit its stride with channel partners this summer. We'll be watching to see if he's right.

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