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Looking to make it simpler to sell both cloud and on-premise instances of its unified communications platform, ShoreTel this week revamped its channel program to provide partners with rewards based on the total points they generate for selling the company’s products and services.

With a much larger percentage of ShoreTel’s revenue now being generated by the cloud instance, it no longer makes sense for the company to manage what amounted to two separate channel programs, said Heather Tenuto, vice president of worldwide channel programs and sales enablement at ShoreTel. In its place is one program that now consists of four tiers that partners need to navigate, versus the 11 tiers that ShoreTel had in place.

In addition, ShoreTel is creating a Cloud Implementation Academy to teach partners (at no charge) how to monetize and participate in the delivery of cloud services. As part of that effort, ShoreTel also announced that partner names can now also appear on ShoreTel Connect CLOUD bills.

“We’re really focusing now on partner enablement,” said Tenuto. “With the cloud, there were some concerns that partners were being taken out of the loop that we want to make sure we address.”

Scheduled to go into effect Nov. 1, the ShorTel channel program includes a streamlined opportunity registration process that partners participating in can tap into rewards that have been increased by as much as 50 percent, additional market development funds and simplified terms for generating commission on cloud sales.

In general, unified communications delivered via the cloud are being more broadly adopted than UC systems that had to be deployed on-premise. For many current ShoreTel partners, that shift represents a challenge that they will need to rise to alongside their customers. At the same time, the total number of partners willing to engage in selling UC services delivered via that cloud is also starting to increase as the cost and complexity of delivering those services commensurately declines.

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