This is part 2 of the 2-part series on the managed service provider model in Wi-Fi. Click here for part 1.
Is Wi-Fi Ready for MSPs?
An important consideration when offering Wi-Fi as a managed service is whether or not the Wi-Fi solution you will choose is designed for it, both from the technical and business aspects. There’s far more to the selection process than meets the eye, and a few (of many) requirements might include:
- Simplified equipment licensing procedures
- Hierarchical and well-controlled super- and multi-tenant management capability
- Management system simplicity, scalability and redundancy
- Capability to manage distributed customers
- Controller-less architecture to enable remote management with scalable economics (a requirement to make Wi-Fi managed services cost-effective)
Near-Zero Startup Cost MSP
Starting a typical MSP is a high-capex endeavor (data center space, servers, management software, equipment licenses, APs, etc.), which is why it is primarily the domain of larger companies. With manufacturer-sponsored equipment financing (like AirTight’s opex sales model) and resalable AirTight cloud management and services (such that the MSP doesn’t have to build their own cloud management system), the startup cost for getting your MSP on its feet just went to near zero. This means that every channel partner who wishes to engage in managed services needs only to:
- Put together the appropriate customer contracts
- Understand how to compensate their sales professionals
- Understand how/why/when to sell managed services.
Leveraging the MSP model
Wi-Fi technology is now experiencing major upgrades more quickly than ever, and customers may not want to invest in technology for the full ~5 years of expected useful product lifetime. Instead of over-buying, they may desire, due to costs and product maturity, to deploy 802.11n today, and in a year deploy 802.11ac Wave-1, and in another year deploy 802.11ac Wave-2. With an opex sales model via an MSP, they can do exactly that – cost effectively and with minimal technical or logistical hassles. Given MSP’s engineering resources and significant vendor relationships, they are able to more readily research, test, and verify:
- Proof-of-concept testing of chosen solutions (including software/feature updates)
- Network design requirements: application performance, AP density, client/AP compatibility
- Industry best practices: security, density, scaling
- Industry regulations and reporting requirements (PCI, HIPAA, SOX, etc.)
- The latest technologies and market trends: product features, integration work and competitive landscape
These items are of significant benefit to an MSP’s customers.
Other MSP Advantages for the Midmarket
The customer doesn’t have to worry about on-going employee training or which vendor’s solution is best at any point in time.
Should the need arise to resize or reshape the network (special events, network expansion, etc.), an MSP can readily accommodate this need as part of their normal management process.
MSPs offer the customer an SLA based on the customer’s needs (and of course the MSP’s ability to offer such SLAs). SLAs could be focused around (but certainly not limited to) the following:
- Network uptime
- Network deployment time
- Throughput per device
Get in the Game!
As you can see, MSPs have a bright future serving midmarket customers. I leave you with this cartoon – "Suddenly, everybody attacked the mid market...", – and so can you!
It is my belief that no other Wi-Fi manufacturer, aside from AirTight, better enables its channel partners to take advantage of this radical market shift, since AirTight has engineered its cloud Wi-Fi solution around MSP enablement from the beginning. Agree or disagree?