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More often than not, smaller is better than bigger in the channel. Intermedia, which has 5,000 active partners, has created a niche for itself by providing, among other things, Microsoft Exchange and Office 365 services to the channel, in direct competition with cloud services from Microsoft.

Now, Intermedia is trying to extend its appeal in the channel with increased commissions for partners that act as agents on behalf of the company. While Intermedia’s partners both resell and white-label its services, the company is trying to extend its reach by making it more profitable for both existing and new partners to sell a service as an agent, Intermedia CEO Mike Gold said.

“A lot of our partners may only be reselling one or two of our services,” Gold said. “This makes it attractive for them to get paid for acting as an agent, or what we call Advisor, to extend the reach of our services.”

Solution providers working through Intermedia, one of Microsoft’s largest partners, get to collectively leverage the tech giant’s cloud capabilities when it comes to, for example, support issues involving Microsoft, Gold said. Since Intermedia is a smaller company focused on meeting the needs of smaller solution providers, these solution providers wind up with a better customer experience when partnering with Intermedia, he said.

“When it comes to service, Intermedia always goes the extra mile,” said Mike Maendler, CEO of Technology and Beyond, a managed service provider based in Midlothian, Texas. “For us, as an IT service provider, it’s all about preventing problems before they happen.”

Moving to the cloud, Maendler said, makes it a lot easier to proactively service customers, versus having to send someone out to fix something once it’s broken on the customer’s premise.

Looking to attract additional partners, Intermedia is also offering, for a limited period, one month of free service for partners that white-label its service. In addition, Intermedia has announced a more stringent companywide “no-compete” with channel partners pledge.

In general, Technology and Beyond has never had a competitive problem with Intermedia. In fact, Maendler said, shifting to the cloud with the help of Intermedia has transformed his company’s business.

“Competition with Intermedia has never been a problem,” Maendler said. “In fact, we give Intermedia a lot of credit for listening to us.”

Overall, many solution providers still need a lot of help making the transition to the cloud, but over time, it will become more apparent that the cloud provides a better business model for the channel, Intermedia’s Gold said.

“The best thing about the cloud from a channel partner’s perspective is that any time there is an economic fluctuation, the impact is minimized,” said Gold. “When there’s a downturn, companies still pay their monthly bills; they might not be as likely to pay for new infrastructure and software.”

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.