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ADTRAN is making it easier for its channel resellers to develop, build and sell applications around its NetVanta Business Applications Server product.

The new capabilities of the NetVanta Business Applications Server provide resellers with the ability to create customized applications without needing to learn a programming language. In fact, all they have to do is understand the needs of their customers and then build the application using a drag-and-drop interface included in NetVanta Business Applications Server, said Chris Thompson, senior product manager of voice and unified communications products at ADTRAN.

“What this allows our partners to do is go out and create added value,” Thompson said.

ADTRAN provides the application development capabilities so that resellers can construct their own unified communications applications using Communication Enabled Business Processes (CEBP). While other products exist that help partners construct applications, Thompson said the key differentiator for ADTRAN’s product is in the drag-and-drop application development interface, which he said is so easy to use that a partner could create a new application in as little as an hour.

“One of the big things I typically talk about with some of my business partners that I work with, instead of paying other people to do services on behalf of their customers, what they want to do is enhance their revenue by doing the services themselves. This is what we do,” said Renock Hall, product manager for business integration services at ADTRAN. Resellers can leverage NetVanta Business Application Server to build and sell the services, offering a value-add to their customers and providing new revenue-generating opportunities for themselves.

Hall compared the user interface of the application creation client to Visio. The user is presented with several different elements that can be dragged and dropped into the application, modified as needed, and chained together to offer functionality that enhances a customer’s business.

For instance, resellers can (and already have) created common inbound interactive voice response (IVR) services and outbound notification services. One partner, Consolidated Technologies, has already built an outbound notification service for a hospital that makes it easy for administrators to send out notifications to doctors and nurses. The system was designed to send out mass notifications to doctors on call, as well as send out notifications about building closures and other events. With text-to-speech technology, an administrator can even send an email or text message to the system, which will then turn it into speech and blast it out to hospital staff.

“Originally, when we had the conversation with the customer, we looked at this like a like-to-have and we didn’t see anything more than a small, niche market. When we started developing the application, even prior to engaging ADTRAN, we said there was some potential even outside the vertical that we were going to use it in, which is hospital,” said Joseph Cardone, sales engineer at Consolidated Technologies.

Cardone engaged ADTRAN to help develop the applications. He added that the application development tool is flexible, enabling Consolidated Technologies to create priority lists in the outbound notification system (so those who need to know of an event immediately are notified before everyone else). Additionally, since the applications developed for the platform are easily tweaked, they can be ported to another customer’s environment without having to completely re-do all the application development work, he said.

“We’ve got nothing but great reviews from the customer so far. We’re looking forward to the fact that it’s an open architecture platform,” Cardone said.

The platform is scalable up to 200 concurrent calls and uses Microsoft Windows-based software to cost-effectively implement CEBP, Hall said. It enables VARs to not only sell services, but also design them, which is something he said resellers want to be able to do.

“What we’re trying to do is enable our business partners,” Hall said.

However, if partners don’t have the expertise to develop the applications, ADTRAN can work with the partner on a consulting basis to help them, as well as train them so they can do it themselves. The vendor has also released a catalog of pre-designed applications that partners can use for free and tweak to fit into their own customers’ environments.

Partners are also likely to develop their own library of reusable applications over time. Since the applications can be modified fairly easily, they only have to do the development work once and then can sell the applications over and over again, Hall said.

“It’s recurring revenue for these business partners to go back and say ‘I’m going to sell you this solution’ and they already have it, but there are some tweaks [needed],” he said.

The new capabilities offer a significant opportunity for ADTRAN’s channel partners, said one analyst.

“Not all businesses are looking for cookie-cutter solutions when it comes to unified communications and business process enablement,” said David Lemelin, research director for enterprise communications at ABI Research. “The ability to customize solutions specific to customer needs helps position the channel partners with their end-users. Essentially, they can create new arrows in their customer engagement quiver.”

According to Thompson, partners are only limited by their imaginations in what they can do with the toolkit.

“Our hope is that our partners will take the tools that we’ve provided and go well beyond the applications that we’ve outlined today,” he said.