Collab9 Partners With Tech Data, Comstor To Bring Cisco HCS To Resellers

Solution provider En Pointe Technologies recently created a new division for its Cisco Hosted Collaboration business called Collab9, and now the company is making a channel push through new distribution pacts.

Collab9 this week partnered with distributors Comstor and Tech Data to bring its Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) to resellers, said Kevin Schatzle, CEO of collab9. Resellers that meet the Cisco certification requirements will be able to sell Cisco HCS.

"We decided to create a separate, 100 percent channel-focused group within En Pointe and focus on a distribution model where we would enlist global distributors and offer our services as a service provider with Cisco's blessing to the various AEC partners around the U.S. that focus on voice," said Schatzle.

[Related: Comstor Launches Cisco-Centric Cloud Service with PeakColo Partnership ]

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According to Schatzle, collab9 is the currently the only company to have the two-tier distribution model in the U.S. The Cisco HSC solution, renamed from ECS to simplify Cisco's compensation, will integrate voice, video, Web conferencing, presence messaging, mobility and support and offer it online, said Schatzle.

"We will be offering our three unique assets where we extend HCS, support over public Internet, dual redundant data centers, and also integrate our existing HCS solution with existing non-Cisco VoIP infrastructure," said Schatzle. "We will support the HCS solution over MPLS and the Internet. Cisco doesn't officially support Internet-based, and we won't be able to guarantee quality of service, but we will support the solution and can deploy it over the Internet."

According to Angie Beltz, vice president for Cisco Solutions group of Tech Data, the partnership with collab9 is part of a larger initiative around the transformation to cloud. Collab9's portfolio will bring a collaboration on-premise product and focus on supporting end users with hosted sites, said Beltz.

"We chose collab9 by taking a look at their cloud focuses and looking at them as a provider," said Beltz. "Collab9 is an approved provider of Cisco, where they do all the support, as far as they cover the different technologies such as UCAST, IaaS and call-center-as-a-service. And, our value proposition is enabling profitable growth for our partners. So, we are looking for those solutions and offerings to transform businesses."

According to Geoff Fancher, senior vice president of Comstor, a per-user, per-month subscription-based model is ideal.

"With hosted collaboration services, customers really want to pay by the drink on that. ... So we see it as a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of a market that's in transition right now," said Fancher. "If you look at the transition occurring, customers are fundamentally moving from a CapEx procurement environment to a consumption-based model where they want to pay by the drink, pay as you go; they want monthly recurring fees as opposed to one time capital expenditures."

NEXT: Channel Benefits

According to collab9's Schatzle, resellers will ultimately benefit from these partnerships by gaining significant profitability and enhancing their business values by building out recurring revenue streams. By selling recurring cloud services at substantial margins and getting three- to five-year revenue streams, Cisco and collab9 sales have seen up to a 10x increase in the evaluation of a business, said Schatzle.

"The biggest thing a reseller would care about ... is it adds enormous value with business, creating recurring revenue streams, and they don't have to make the investments we made," said Schatzle. "They don't have to leverage the offering; we devised pricing where they will make more money because we are aggregating this investment."

Robert Mueller, executive solutions architect at MNJ Technologies Direct, a Comstor VAR based in Buffalo Grove, Ill., said the new partnership is beneficial in leveraging white-labeled Cisco solutions to customers.

"[We are] excited about Cisco's Hosted Collaboration Solutions through Collab9 as they are the chosen service provider of Comstor, our preferred Cisco distributor," said Mueller. "We're excited about leveraging our collective Cisco expertise to bring HCS solutions to our national customer base."

Furthermore, the company is looking to recruit resellers through Tech Data and Comstor partner relationships, said Schatzle.

"Our distributors will be recruiting the partners, and they need to meet Cisco's requirements, in that they are advanced unified communications certified," said Schatzle. "They'll be signing up non-binding agreements with the distributors that they are buying the solutions from."

In the future, Schatzle said he hopes to sign up between 50 and 100 partners through each of the distributors.

That's an "aggressive" forecast, Schatzle said, but Collab9 will help the distributors drive business, with marketing and demand generation. "We want to build out a successful business where we have enormous amounts of seats under management going forward."