BlueTie Turns To Channel To Battle Microsoft SharePoint In The Cloud

BlueTie, traditionally a cloud-based e-mail player, is turning to the channel to help it tackle cloud-based file sharing and document management as the company preps for battle with Microsoft SharePoint.

Rochester, N.Y.-based BlueTie Wednesday launched a reseller program around Smartbins, its cloud-based file sharing and document management software unveiled in December. Smartbins is the fruit of BlueTie's September acquisition of Wonderfile, a cloud-based collaboration and online storage product from ArcStone, a Minneapolis Web development firm.

Smartbins lets users put files into the cloud, enabling authorized users to access them from anywhere at any time as long as they have an Internet connection. Users can tag files with the appropriate contextual information so they're easier to find and don't get lost in folders. Users can also set up workflows so they know where documents stand and who has access to them.

Building a stand-alone reseller program for Smartbins and separating it from BlueTie's traditional cloud e-mail offerings, where it also goes head-to-head against Microsoft, not only will enable partners to drive revenue beyond the mailbox, but also helps BlueTie break into a new market where its chief rival, Microsoft SharePoint, dominates.

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Shawn Ryan, BlueTie's vice president of product and marketing, said for many partners and SMBs, SharePoint is big, complex and cumbersome. And in many cases it is "overkill" from a setup, maintenance and price standpoint, Ryan added, citing recent research that indicates that 90 percent of SharePoint users only use it for cloud-based file sharing and document management, tasks Smartbins can perform at a fraction of the cost.

The new Smartbins reseller program lets partners white-label the Smartbins SaaS and cloud business applications, meaning partners can put their own brand name on it. The Smartbins reseller program ups the ante in BlueTie's continued competition with Microsoft on the e-mail front by adding SharePoint to the mix. Last year, BlueTie launched a private-label reseller program around its cloud and hosted e-mail offerings, a program that has its sights set squarely on Microsoft and Google, two big players in the cloud e-mail landscape. The Smartbins reseller program continues that trend, with BlueTie maintaining its "your brand, your customers" mantra for partners.

Ryan said breaking out Smartbins into its own reseller program gives BlueTie partners flexibility in how they offer the solution. Many resellers want a cloud-based file sharing and document management play but already have a partner on the e-mail and collaboration side, such as Google Apps. Ryan said BlueTie did not want to force an all-or-nothing program on its partner base.

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"The feedback we were getting was to just separate them out," Ryan said. "There is certainly some overlap [with partners offering both e-mail and Smartbins], but what we didn't want to do is force partners to take everything."

According to BlueTie, the Smartbins program can offer partners margins ranging from 40 percent to 60 percent, free API integration and a dedicated team for tier two support. And, unlike SharePoint resellers, Smartbins partners own the customer and billing relationships while maintaining the ability to add services revenue on top of the standard margin. The Smartbins reseller program requires a $150 monthly minimum guarantee, Ryan said.