Tech Data, Fonality Dial Up SMB Unified Communications

By Sharon Linsenbach  |  Print this article Print

Fonality’s open-source platform enables solution providers to deliver a hybrid solution that is both hosted at customers' sites but managed remotely.

Tech Data is adding Fonality’s open source unified communications (UC) systems to its Telephony Specialized Business Unit (SBU), allowing solution providers to deliver more cost-effective UC solutions to SMB customers.

Fonality’s UC capabilities are delivered via a hybrid-hosted model, says Monica Cwiklinski, manager of Tech Data’s Telephony SBU. Resellers install Fonality’s trixbox Pro IP-PBX appliance at a customer's location to deliver VOIP and UC capabilities, says Cwiklinski. Fonality remotely manages and monitors the solution on behalf of solution providers, allowing for recurring services revenue without significant infrastructure build-outs or the need to provide on-site support. 

This model allows resellers to sell both the trixbox appliance and the integration and support services that surround it, says Cwiklinski. Fonality’s trixbox is delivered on an open-source platform, but that doesn’t mean solution providers and their customers are left to their own devices when it comes to service and support, she adds.

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"This model gives resellers the flexibility to determine how much of the system is actually hosted based on end-customers’ needs and the solution providers’ own comfort level with implementing, integrating and supporting both open-source technology and UC solutions," she says.

Depending on a solution provider's expertise, Fonality can provide 24/7 systems monitoring, automatic software updates, business continuity support and comprehensive reporting and tracking tools.

In addition to basic voice, messaging and conferencing, solution providers can also use Fonality’s trixbox Pro to bring Microsoft Outlook and CRM integration, voicemail to e-mail and call center support.

The Fonality solution can also offer an "on ramp" to traditional networking solution providers who may want to ease into a UC practice, says Cwiklinski, since those solution providers will have extensive support, training and sales resources to back them up.

"This can be a far easier solution to grasp for traditional networking solution providers who are looking to add to their skill sets," she says.

While Tech Data’s Telephony SBU sells a number of UC solutions from vendors such as Nortel, Cisco and 3Com, Fonality can be a great fit for solution providers selling to the SMB market, says Todd Gronemeyer, director of network product marketing at Tech Data.

"For solution providers whose end user customers might not have the means to buy a full PBX or a VOIP solution, this can be a much more cost effective solution, especially for SMBs," he says.

Sharon Linsenbach Sharon Linsenbach is a staff writer for eWEEK and eWEEK Channel Insider. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, Sharon was Assistant Managing Editor for CRN, a weekly magazine for PC and technology resellers. Before joining CRN, Sharon was an Acquisitions Editor for The Coriolis Group and later, Editorial Director with Paraglyph Press, both in Scottsdale, AZ. She holds a BA in English from Drew University and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her significant other and two neurotic cats. When she's not reading or writing about technology, Sharon enjoys yoga, knitting, traveling and live music. Sharon can be reached at Sharon.Linsenbach@ziffdavisenterprise.com.