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Staples Gets Serious About MSP Market

Staples is taking its managed service provider business mainstream.

The Framingham, Mass.-based office superstore chain quietly entered the MSP market in December 2006 with the unannounced acquisition of Thrive Networks, a seven-year-old, 250-customer MSP based in Concord, Mass.

Little growth has occurred with Thrive in the interim; Staples currently claims about 300 clients. But it appears Staples' Contract Technology Solutions unit has been busy prepping the 60-person firm's business model and leveraging its branding for a nationwide rollout.

On Wednesday, Staples launched Staples Network Services by Thrive. There will initially be three services: Thrive Protect, Thrive Onsite and Thrive Online Backup.

Thrive Protect is standard MSP fare -- anti-spam, anti-virus, anti-spyware, patch management, systems and network monitoring, and remote helpdesk. Staples promises cross-platform support, including Windows, Mac and Linux, for Thrive Protect customers. Thrive Onsite will send IT engineers to customer sites on a regular basis for some face time. That service will only be available in Boston and Atlanta in the beginning, but support for other major metro areas is planned. Thrive Online Backup is automatic, incremental backup of PC and server data to a secure site over an encrypted connection. EMC Corp. will handle the storage on the back-end through its Mozy Inc. subsidiary.

It certainly seems like a logical and workable idea to market an SMB-focused MSP offering through Staples' network of 1,800 office supply stores in the United States and Canada. Staples reaches target customers every day as those customers come in to fill their offices from the Staples inventory of more than 7,000 products. And it's a trusted brand.

Of course, the gutters of the business world are filled with logical ideas. We'll see how it goes. What do you think? Can Staples become a profitable player in the MSP market? Let me know at [email protected].

Posted by Scott Bekker on September 25, 2008


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