What Is A Total Services Provider (TSP)?

Welcome to a new IT channel site, and a new term: Total Services Provider. But what exactly is a TSP -- especially compared to managed services providers (MSPs), value-added resellers (VARs) and cloud services providers (CSPs)?

And why is the TSP wave so darn important? Glad you asked.

Generally speaking:

  • VARs provide IT consulting and integration services. They piece together IT products into solutions. They may also dabble a bit in managed and cloud services.
  • MSPs remotely monitor, manage and optimize customer systems -- both on-premises and in the cloud. They may also dabble in some value-added reselling and consulting.
  • True CSPs typically own their cloud infrastructure. Names like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and IBM SoftLayer come to mind. VARs recommend and/or resell those services to customers. MSPs may even manage those services for customers.

Now, along comes the TSP -- a total service provider. Loosely translated, that's an IT service provider that does it all. As you may have guessed, a TSP pieces together every IT component and service for the customer, and has the capability to manage it all. TSPs essentially blend the best of VARs and MSPs -- while managing cloud services like Amazon, Azure, etc., for the end customer. And don't forget about a healthy dose of professional services as well.

Where's the proof? The best-performing MSPs generate about 28 percent of their revenues from product resale and value-added services, according to Paul Dippell, CEO of Service Leadership Inc., a leading benchmarketing organization that aggregates IT service provider data.

Naming Names

What's an example TSP? A prime name is TekLinks -- one of the rare companies that ranks among the world's top VARs, MSPs and CSPs -- according to multiple third-party research studies.

Hats off to TekLinks leaders like:

  • David Powell (@davidpowellbham), VP of managed and cloud services, marketing; and
  • Terry Miller, VP of managed and cloud services, engineering.

Both TekLinks executives play key roles within an IT services provider that does it all -- or comes awfully close to doing it all -- for demanding customers.

Scorecard TekLinks 0915

Another example involves Kevin Crowe, VP of procurement services at Long View Systems. Perhaps better known for its managed and cloud services -- which Crowe previously led -- the company also helps businesses to buy and consume on-premises solutions.

Market watchers like Service Leadership Inc. and HTG Peer Groups often talk about blended IT services models -- and the value of that mixed revenue approach. We intend to help drive that conversation forward -- especially as IT service providers navigate the five stages of business.

The big question: How can we all spot, celebrate and document additional TSPs -- and their secrets to success? We'll be sharing more answers in the days ahead.

In the meantime, you may get some clues here and in the ChannelE2E Database area.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.