Intel Corp. is encouraging partners to leverage its Centrino with vPro technology as a platform in which to engage in the managed services space to address the needs of Canadian small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
During a media roundtable event held Thursday in Richmond Hill, Ont., David Allen, director of distribution sales for North America at Intel, referenced recent findings about the managed services market from global IT research and advisory firm, Gartner Inc. Allen said Gartner expects the penetration rate of remote infrastructure managed service contracts in Canada to reach 45 per cent by the end of next year. By 2012, this percentage is forecast to increase to 85 per cent for the U.S. and Canada combined.
“We believe a growth opportunity for the channel is with managed services,” Allen said. “Our Centrino with vPro technology acts as a platform that helps enable managed services because it provides security and built-in management capabilities and companies can then build on that,” he adds.
With Intel’s Centrino with vPro technology, users can also manage their notebooks and desktops using a wired or secure wireless network even if their computer is turned off or powered down. Having this capability provides a wealth of opportunities for Intel partners, says Allen, who can then offer total solutions around the technology.
Rob Duxter, president of Network Integrators of Canada Inc., (NI) a Toronto-based managed service provider and Intel partner, has been in business since 2001 and offers both on-site and remote services to customers across the country.
While Duxter said NI has customers ranging from the SMB to mid to large-size, the sweet spot for his business remains with SMBs, which he says accounts for 80 per cent of the company’s overall business. When you get to small businesses, Duxter said, sometimes it’s the owner who’s devoting personal time and attention to IT issues since there’s no one else in the company to do it.
“At the end of the day, they’re not experts and the downtime that’s spent with them looking at IT issues, translates into a lot of money lost,” Duxter said.
He defines managed services as being “the long-term management of select or all of the technology in a business depending on the company size.”
Managed IT services can include security, hosting, user support, backup, disaster recovery, and more, Duxter said. For smaller businesses, NI will usually provide a total packaged solution for managed services, depending on what’s required. Whereas with larger organizations, he said an assessment is done to examine the company’s existing technology and in-house skills-sets to then find a suitable managed services solution.
“You have to constantly innovate and stay ahead of the curve if you want to be successful in this fast-paced business,” he advises. “If partners are already doing services and love it, they’ll love getting into managed services even more because of the higher margin revenues.”
Ricky Mak, a research analyst for SMB and channels at IDC Canada, said the managed services market is a growing trend, particularly with small businesses in Canada right now.
“At a high-level, SMBs have an appetite for managed services,” Mak said. “The biggest challenge with SMBs is a lack of IT knowledge and a lack of IT staff. It’s important for solution partners to keep engaged in this market to reach out to these customers because SMBs don’t typically move to managed services unless they’re experiencing immediate pain with IT.”
For channel partners, Mak said getting into managed services will help those who are currently struggling with business models that are hardware-centric.
Allen also said partners need to move away from just selling hardware and using a transactional-based model, towards a long-term model that incorporates managed services. In support of this managed services push, Allen said Intel is working to spread awareness and educate its partners on Centrino and vPro technology by working with Ingram Micro and its Seismic Managed Services platform.
“Once partners become aware of and get into managed services, that’s when they really get it and really fly,” Allen said.