For all the hubbub about needing to innovate and jump on new, emerging trends (not a small amount of which has come from yours truly), there is and will always be a need for core infrastructure providers. Help desks, NOCs and voice might not be as sexy as some other niche offerings, but they’re just as much a must-have for organizations today as they were 10 years ago.
The difference today is how it’s all packaged and that the traditional silos between the IT and telco channels are breaking down as MSPs integrate phone-system support and cabling into their core infrastructure offerings, and telco agents develop basic managed IT capabilities, thereby giving customers that elusive “one-stop shop.”
Back in 2007, managed service provider Fidelis was doing just data and voice cabling. But soon it teamed up with another company that was performing IT work, bringing on a team to do phone-system support shortly thereafter.
“Many of our competitors can’t install a rack, run cabling for a wireless access point, tone and test a cable, or install and configure a phone system,” says Paul Zimmerman, chief technical officer and vice president of Fidelis. “Being able to provide more than just IT support, we can work with clients at a deeper level.”
Zimmerman says that when one Fidelis client outgrew its offices, the MSP was hands-on from the beginning. Like traditional infrastructure providers have always done, Fidelis techs found themselves crawling under desks to install and test phone systems and computers, and physically moving server and network equipment. Like many telco agents, the company helped design the low-voltage cabling and server room for the new facility, installing all of the server racks, and data and voice cabling.
But because of its practical experience on both sides of the channel coin, Fidelis was able to provide tremendous value by coordinating communication and logistics with the range of vendors involved in the project. It brought together the offerings and capabilities of internet service providers (ISPs), the voice circuit provider, the alarm and access control system vendor, AV providers for meeting rooms and so forth for the successful install and migration of services.
Fidelis more than proved its value, and Zimmerman says the company’s experience with both the IT and telco sides of the channel is a big part of the reason why.
“The changing market is making that dual experience more advantageous than ever,” says Zimmerman. “Services such as Microsoft Skype for Business are beginning to chip away at the traditional phone-system services. As the big players in the space add more telephony features into software solutions, traditional phone systems aren’t as much in demand.”
Zimmerman says that there’s only more consolidation and convergence in our future. Traditional vendors will continue to consolidate and hone their product lines, and cloud-native features will drive down prices and put pressure on traditional on-premises vendors. He’s confident that Fidelis’ broad experience will serve it well in the market changes to come and give it a competitive edge many MSPs lack.
“Those MSPs that have the capability to help their clients navigate these changes and provide solid long-term advice on what the best solution is for their specific circumstances will have the advantage over traditional telco shops or MSPs that don’t have experience working with voice or unified communications.”