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During the last eight years, NetTeks Technology has built a solid networking and IP telephony business, selling both services and product, in the New England area.

Eventually, customers started asking the Boston-based reseller to manage the security on their networks. So, NetTeks Technology Consultants Inc. had to make a decision: Either make the infrastructure investment to handle managed security or find a partner already set up to deliver the services. NetTeks opted for the latter.

“It wasn’t core to what we were doing; it wasn’t one of our focuses,” NetTeks Partner Ethan Simmons said.

The company teamed up with Netivity Solutions, a pioneer in the managed-services business, located in Waltham, Mass.

NetTeks now provides its own customers with managed security, using part of Netivity’s NOC (Network Operations Center) to deliver the service.

The NetTeks/Netivity arrangement is one of thousands of examples of resellers, VARs, integrators, service providers and solution providers getting together to fulfill customer needs.

Partnering was once a troubling prospect for channel companies, who were leery of introducing a potential competitor into a relationship with customers. But as more and more companies join forces to mutual benefit, the overwhelming majority has found they have nothing to worry about.

“I work directly with a competitor and I don’t care,” said Gary Redshaw, CEO of Future Vision Inc., in Raleigh, N.C.

Redshaw has partnered with other VARs and integrators a handful of times in recent years, and predicts that the future of his company holds more such partnerships.

It wasn’t an easy arrangement to accept, he said. Four years ago, VARs and integrators were still too suspicious of each other. But as word of successful partnerships started to spread, more resellers decided to give it a shot.

Read details here about the growing importance of managed services.

Partnerships flourish typically as a result of a customer need that a particular VAR or integrator isn’t equipped to immediately fulfill, as was the case with NetTeks. Sometimes the need is a technology requirement, but other times it has to do with geography.

PMV Technologies in Troy, Mich., for example, needed to support one customer, a financial services company, in the Troy area and at multiple sites across the country.

Unable to manage the geographic reach on its own, PMV forged partnerships with a dozen other VARs and integrators to guarantee the financial institution 4- to 6-hour response seven days a week for equipment repairs, said Executive Vice President Scott Goemmel.

“We partner with organizations in 40 states. Our business model involves leveraging strategic partners for the on-site delivery of services throughout North America in support of our customer base,” he said.

Click here to read about VARs in the managed-services security market.

Through its web of partnerships, Goemmel said, PMV handles 2,500 customers’ sites across the country.

One of PMV’s partners is Synergy Global Solutions Inc. of Amherst, N.Y., which handles the Western New York State region.

“We were able to provide services PMV needed at a price that was competitive for them to succeed,” said Jose Rivero, Synergy vice president of service operations. “We go on-site to provide maintenance services.”

As a result of partnerships similar to the one with PMV, Rivero said, Synergy has expanded its reach beyond the Western New York area and has added 25 to 30 percent to its top-line revenue.

Greater reach means more customers

“In order for us to grow, we have to expand beyond our area,” Rivero said. “I have customers all throughout the United States. I have customers in Hawaii and California. I have customers in Florida.”

Without partners, he said, it would be impossible for Synergy to maintain that customer base.

Synergy and others have found that, in addition to being able to expand their service offerings for existing customers, they are also winning new business through partnering.

NetTeks, for instance, has found new opportunities in its partner Netivity’s customer base. When customers require services that Netivity isn’t equipped to provide but NetTeks can handle, and vice versa, one company hands off the work to the other.

Netivity CEO Mont Phelps predicts that eventually the companies will share as many as 40 customers.

Each company’s sales staff has grown used to calling the other when customers request services that the partner can provide, said NetTeks’ Simmons.

“We have agreements in place so there’s no fear of losing customers or losing account control,” he said. “There isn’t a whole lot of overlap between our two companies.”

Netivity got into managed services 10 years ago, making it one of the first channel companies to do so. Phelps said the company started offering managed services for the same reason it is partnering with NetTeks—to serve customers.

“We want to be a trusted advisor to our clients,” he said. Besides, he added, if Netivity opted against partnering, the business would just go to someone else.

NetTeks and Netivity found each other through distributor Ingram Micro Inc. of Santa Ana, Calif. Both companies are members of the distributor’s elite reseller group, VentureTech Network.

Partnering among the network membership has become so commonplace that members generally don’t have to think twice about signing contracts to share customers.

Ingram Micro brokers many of these agreements, and, to make the process more formal, the distributor a couple of years ago launched the Ingram Micro Service Network.

When a participating VAR needs a partner in a different location, the VAR can leverage IMSN to find partner prospects, said Justin Crotty, Ingram Micro vice president of channel development.

With pre-negotiated rates, service-level agreement templates and rules that prohibit stealing each other’s customers, IMSN has simplified and expedited the process of forging partnerships, Crotty said. “Service providers can call on each other without fear that their customers are going to be hijacked.”

Phelps said he is convinced that partnering, when appropriate, “is absolutely the right thing to do.” Picking partners you can trust, though, is key, he said.

“Everything you do is built on trust. If you don’t have that, it’s not going to hold up.”