New Stamp On E-Mail


BlueTie, Sendio, MX Logic have a message for solution providers


Solution providers are discovering that e-mail can add up to more than just a full inbox when the right managed e-mail service is delivered.

BlueTie this week plans to introduce a creative new way to add an extra layer of recurring revenue to its hosted e-mail services platform: Featuretisements. A Featuretisement is a click-through function on BlueTie's e-mail and collaboration GUI that connects to a federated business partner to perform a secure transaction, explained David Koretz, president and CEO of BlueTie, Rochester, N.Y.

BlueTie introduced this twist on banner advertising as two rivals, Sendio, Newport Beach, Calif., and MX Logic, Englewood, Colo., make amplified bids for market share. Sendio is prepping appliance offerings for small-business customers and MSP partners, said CEO Kelly Anderson. MX Logic last week partnered with antispam vendor Cloudmark, improving the way MX Logic's
hosted e-mail MSP platform provides messaging protection, said Ken Totura, vice president of channel sales at MX Logic.

With Featuretisements, BlueTie looks to offer a way to generate more revenue than the current industry average billing of between $2 and $5 per mailbox, per month for managed e-mail services. Say a BlueTie end user needs to book an airline reservation. He or she just clicks a Featuretisement icon labeled "Travel" and a back-end service provider, such as Orbitz, powers the transaction, said Koretz. BlueTie's partners are paid commissions equal to 40 percent of the between $2 and $4 per user, per month that BlueTie expects Featuretisements to generate, he said.

If that number seems small at first, that's because a highly profitable e-mail business is a volume play, said Koretz.

"I think that if you don't have a large number of mailboxes, you are going to suffer from a very small amount of per-mailbox revenue," he said.

The average number of mailboxes per business customer for BlueTie partners is 14.7, and the vendor currently hosts more than 100,000 mailboxes, charging partners about $3 per mailbox and suggesting they mark them up to at least $5 for the professional service, said Koretz. Because BlueTie offers a GUI that users can perform tasks with—instead of offering just a hidden, back-end e-mail filter—the chance that revenue will be generated from the use of Featuretisements is even greater, he said.

"It's an application people can sit on all day long," he said.

BlueTie is so confident Featuretisements will make hay for partners, it is
offering its hosted e-mail services free to businesses with fewer than 20 mail-
boxes, said Koretz. Almost 50 potential federated business partners that could power Featuretisements for travel, faxing, Web conferencing, VoIP and general ledger services are in discussions with BlueTie, though currently only three have signed on, he said.

Over at Sendio, meanwhile, the company has only begun to court reseller partners but looks to drive a majority of its sales through the channel, said Anderson. The two-year-old appliance maker is ramping up an aggressive channel program as it preps new appliances— slated to arrive later next year—that are designed for SMBs and MSPs, he said.

One of Sendio's first partners, David Dadian, CEO of Powersolution.com, a $1.2 million MSP in Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., said the vendor's sender address verification method—which blocks unknown e-mails unless senders reply to a verification e-mail—offers unmatched protection against spam. Dadian has looked at e-mail management offerings from Barracuda and Postini, and has customers who have used similar products from Symantec and Brightmail, but each of these allowed some trickle-through of spam, he said.

Sendio is also working hard to win partners, said Dadian. "They are really going the [distance] for us to use their product as an MSP platform, and also sell it as an appliance," he said.

For its part, MX Logic has a well-developed, 100 percent channel strategy that makes available "sales-on-demand" teams who come in and perform the heavy lifting for partners when it comes to closing sales, said Totura. MX Logic's offering is designed to be delivered as a managed service to SMBs, and the Cloudmark partnership adds zero-hour defense against a wider range of
e-mail threats, he said.

One of the top partners for MX Logic in the Southwest is Jeb Carter, president of DefenderSoft, Dallas. Carter said the vendor's offering is excellent, adding that managed e-mail services are so popular that he built a 20,000-mailbox business in less than two years with very little help from MX Logic's sales-on-demand teams.

Similarly, Bill Murphy, systems consultant for Pine Cove Consulting, a BlueTie partner in Billings, Mont., said the immense attraction customers have toward managed e-mail services is what's driving the growth of the market, more so
than partner program efforts or new twists like Featuretisements.