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When it comes to business models in the cloud, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all model for solution providers. ShoreTel understands that, so it expanded its channel program in a way that enables partners to install implementations of a cloud-based unified communications platform.

Previously, ShoreTel had only an agent model in place, and it assumed responsibility for installing its Connect CLOUD offerings. But Heather Tenuto, the company’s vice president of worldwide channel programs and sales enablement, said it has become apparent that there are many solution providers that would rather take on that responsibility.

“A lot of the partners told us they don’t want to lose out on the cross-sell opportunities,” she said. “The partners also want to be able to differentiate themselves.”

By maintaining control of the installation process, solution providers get the opportunity to generate services revenue, Tenuto explained, and they also can gain visibility into network upgrade opportunities.

Chris Frey, vice president of operations at Converged Technology Professionals, pointed out that regardless of the partner model employed, customers are still going to hold the solution provider accountable for the outcome. “We don’t want to be disconnected from our clients,” he said. “If there’s a problem, we’re going to be pulled back into it anyway.”

In addition, Frey noted that the biggest challenge with selling unified communications is that it usually requires the customer to upgrade its network infrastructure to support it. By providing all the services themselves, solution providers are in a better position to assure quality.

Obviously, in the age of the cloud, solution providers can mix and match agent and traditional reseller models as they see fit. When a solution provider resells a product and provides the associated services, that approach generally creates more equity for the business. But there’s are just as many times when all a partner may want is a referral fee for steering business to the cloud service provider.

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications, including eWEEK, InfoWorld and CRN. He currently contributes to Channel Insider, Baseline, IT Business Edge and CIO Insight.  – See more at: https://www.channelinsider.com/news-and-trends/death-of-the-big-channel-program/#sthash.j9wSmbsN.dpuf

Whatever the approach taken, the one thing that’s clear to all concerned is that there are now more solution provider opportunities in cloud than ever before.

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications, including eWEEK, InfoWorld and CRN. He currently contributes to Channel Insider, Baseline, IT Business Edge and CIO Insight.  – See more at: https://www.channelinsider.com/news-and-trends/death-of-the-big-channel-program/#sthash.j9wSmbsN.dpuf
Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications, including eWEEK, InfoWorld and CRN. He currently contributes to Channel Insider, Baseline, IT Business Edge and CIO Insight.  – See more at: https://www.channelinsider.com/news-and-trends/death-of-the-big-channel-program/#sthash.j9wSmbsN.dpuf
Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications, including eWEEK, InfoWorld and CRN. He currently contributes to Channel Insider, Baseline, IT Business Edge and CIO Insight.  – See more at: https://www.channelinsider.com/news-and-trends/death-of-the-big-channel-program/#sthash.j9wSmbsN.dpuf