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Verio Realigns Itself For The Small-Business Customer

As more and more small businesses are required to adopt enterpriselike capabilities to keep on top of market demands—and utilize the Internet to keep abreast of those demands—they are turning to managed services.

Not only has the growth of accessible managed services opened new doors for small businesses, but it has created an abundance of lucrative opportunities for the channel. Case in point is hosting provider and MSP Verio. Small businesses typically lack the capital and human resources required for backup and server maintenance, Web site building and hosting, or even marketing methodologies. Verio, Englewood, Colo., recognized these needs and is repositioning its role in the managed services space.

"We're finding that small businesses have a lot of the same needs as enterprises and the SME [small and medium enterprise] marketplace," said Harry Hollines, vice president of channels and business development at Verio. "We're bringing those capabilities to the small business by providing cost-effective services and higher availability."

Hollines believes that if the "price point is attractive," they will come. And although managed services and its respective products are not a new objective for Verio, the company is redirecting its model toward small businesses with the help of its channel partners. "[We're] going back to the fundamentals of the core business through our resellers, OEMs, through partnerships, to reach these small businesses," he said.

Verio touts three programs—Reseller, Affiliate and OEM—and sells services and products via the channel and directly to end users. The company has more than 3,700 indirect channel customers—90 percent are reseller partners and large corporations and 10 percent are affiliates—that service businesses of all types and sizes.

Previously an engineering consulting firm, Verio reseller Jenica, Nashua, N.H., transitioned into a solution provider and shifted its focus to hosting, designing and building a client's Web site as "the Internet became more and more of a staple in the economy," said Jenica President Norm Prevett.

"We bill ourselves as a full-service Internet development company. We look at our business as helping their business," Prevett said. "We basically focus on [Web] hosting and design almost exclusively with the small business."

"We also use Verio servers almost exclusively," he added.

Integrating the scalability and reliability of Verio's servers with its services has enabled Jenica to help companies with fewer than 100 employees increase profits.

"For many of our e-commerce customers, they had sites that started in garages. In time, their sales jumped to a million dollars a month," Prevett said. "A good deal of that success is due to the fact that we have given them scalable hosting and other services, [such as] design and consulting."

How does Verio play into all of this? "The scalability of Verio's servers has been important," Prevett said. "We start with a small footprint and then we're able to move the customer up the server hierarchy [because of the server's scalability]."

Partners also give high praise to Verio's support offerings and its reseller Web site, the Via Verio Partner Program (viaverio.com). John Blood, owner of longtime Verio reseller and hoster Behold Learning, Minneapolis, said of the vendor: "They have a tremendous support system. This is why I went with Verio in the first place. I can go online and find information and can help my customer immediately. I have a never-ending stream of support from Verio."

About 70 percent of Behold Learning's business is providing statistical data- gathering and specialized computing for school districts. However, the remaining 30 percent of its offerings are geared toward small businesses. "For me, working with Verio has truly enabled me to offer small businesses a fast, reliable, high-speed server connection," Blood said.

Verio continues to maintain a strong presence in the sector with the recent releases of more offerings specifically for small businesses, including a hosted Podcast tool that enables customers to market themselves to new audiences, and a domain name registration service.

"The Podcast somewhat involves me ... I'm starting to get Podcast requests from school districts," Blood said. But for small businesses, "the name space is so crowded and oversubscribed. I can no longer go into the domain name system and get any name I want. I haven't seen this new tool [from Verio], but it seems like it will help," he said.

As small businesses continue to drive the U.S. economy, the channel is constantly reinventing ways to capitalize on this flourishing market. "We're creating different solutions that are better for the small business," Hollines said.

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