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NWN Corp., a Waltham, Mass.-based solution provider and Cisco Gold partner, is among the 34 HCS providers and has a rapidly expanding pipeline of business.
"What Cisco has chosen to do here is pretty unique from an industry perspective," said Skip Tappen, NWN's chief operating officer. "If you look at it, it's a co-dependent model, in that they have the products, we have the services, and you're taking both as an offering to the customer. A lot of vendors want to bring all that in-house and resell the built services offering, as opposed to give the partners the opportunity to really participate."
Tappen said NWN has aggressive plans for its HCS offering, which has grown in line with expectations, he said. But as customers more willingly embrace the as-a-service model, "I could be underestimating it. This thing really could be off the charts."
"The more educated customers see this as a value play, it's not just price," Tappen said. "It's a big change in the service model and it's not just something that happens overnight. But for us, it was a natural extension to the longstanding managed services offering we've had for years."
Count on vendors like Cisco and its many UC competitors to turn up the heat on channel partners to push their cloud communications strategies, solution providers and analysts agree.
"Following Polycom's substantial emphasis on new cloud-based services, it is clear that enterprise communications/collaboration hardware vendors are beginning to take cloud-based services more seriously," wrote Raymond James & Associates analysts Simon Leopold and Brian Alexander in a recent note, anticipating Cisco's Tuesday launch. "We suspect the success of these initiatives will come down to the incentives provided to resellers to sell cloud solutions vs. on-premise hardware."