Intermedia Revamps Its Channel Program For Cloud Service Advisors

The revamped program now offers a number of new resources and support materials for the 2,500 partners Intermedia classifies as "Advisors."

Solution providers are wrestling with their changing role as more businesses adopt cloud computing. Some solution providers actively resell on-demand applications and other cloud services, handle first-line support for customers, and manage billing and contractual arrangements. Others focus on their own services and consulting work, letting the vendor take the lead in managing the customer relationship.

Intermedia has taken the approach of creating programs for both types of channel partners. "It's a microcosm of the whole debate of who owns the customer," said Manlio Carrelli, chief marketing officer, in an interview. "We believe in giving our partners a choice."

The vendor's Private Label program is for partners who resell Intermedia's hosted services, including PBX and Exchange e-mail services, packaged under their own brand. Those partners handle customer billing, have control over pricing, and are responsible for first-line support (with Intermedia providing second-level support). Intermedia has about 4,300 Private Label partners, according to Carrelli.

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Another 2,500 partners, known until now as "affiliates," let Intermedia manage the customer relationship, billing chores and first-line support. Those partners, many of whom are small IT consulting firms or managed service providers, focus on the specific services they bring to the table and earn an undisclosed percentage of recurring subscription revenue.

Intermedia is re-branding its affiliates organization as the "Advisor" program because "that speaks much more to the services and support they provide to customers," Carelli said.

The company also is beefing up the Advisor program by offering new online sales tools, sales and marketing materials, and other resources to assist Advisor partners, according to Carelli.

"The sales materials we have used have been first class," said Jay Street, president of Great Oak Enterprises, a Woodstock, Ga.-based solution provider that's enrolled in Intermedia's Advisor program. The company provides IT services and support, including e-mail services from Intermedia, to small and mid-size businesses.

Earlier this week Intermedia expanded the depth of its cloud computing offerings when it acquired Zlago, a supplier of cloud services including Software-as-a-Service applications and hosted desktops, for an undisclosed sum.