Time Warner Cable's NaviSite Now Bundling Cloud, Networking For Partners And Customers

Time Warner Cable's (TWC) cloud division, NaviSite, has a portfolio full of cloud offerings, including infrastructure-as-a-service, managed hosting, disaster recovery-as-a-Service and colocation. TWC acquired NaviSite in 2011. Since then, the companies have been combining their two strengths -- cloud services and a reliable network -- for business customers.

TWC and NaviSite currently have 11 joint channel partners, with each company having its own unique partners too. Together, TWC and NaviSite have recently introduced packaged deals for customers and partners that bundle TWC's network with NaviSite's cloud solutions.

Michael Hayes, product manager for NaviSite, sat down with CRN to share details about the connectivity bundles, and the company's plans to capture the attention of more channel partners.

[Related: Here's Who Made Gartner's 2015 Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Magic Quadrant]

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Tell us about these new cloud and network bundles.

Hayes: We thought we'd take the overused cable term 'bundle' and apply it to the cloud, but it makes sense -- cloud services are kind of useless without a network to connect to, and it just so happens we know a really good network provider in our parent company. We thought we could offer cloud and networking services together for our mutual customers and it would give them benefits, namely, the security of a private connection and access to low latency, high-quality Internet, and just ease of access into the cloud environment by essentially becoming an extension of their on-premise network.

The [bundles] are not quite as commoditized as cable's 'triple play bundles' -- it’s a loose appropriation of that term. The main thing is depending on what NaviSite products [customers] are interested in. All require some form of connectivity, and by combining Time Warner Ethernet with the NaviSite products, it’s a really nice value proposition. There are a lot of tangible benefits associated with the bundles, and we thought we'd provide some customer incentives to sweeten the pot too.

What kind of customer incentives does NaviSite offer with the bundles?

Hayes: It depends on the products being bought, but it can range anywhere from free products, to discounts, to credits. We think just the value of combining our products is good, but why not make it even better?

We launched the bundles at the end of Q1 [2015], but it's something we've done informally since the [acquisition]. We made it official this year with a sort of soft launch. We wanted to see what kind of demand was out there because it does involve quite a bit of cross-company coordination. We wanted to make sure we had all the processes ironed out before we started broadcasting it. We brought a few customers on board now, and things are going well.

Can partners sell these cloud/networking bundles?

Hayes: The nice thing is that the partner programs for both Time Warner and NaviSite is they work well together. Now, [selling] the bundles is not going to be a fit for everybody. We have some agents out there that just want to sell network services or video and don't even know how to spell 'cloud,' so it's probably not going to be a good fit for them. Some are really specialized partners on the cloud side that don’t want to have anything to do with the network, so for them, probably not a good fit. But with that overlap in the middle for partners that really understand, you can really increase the overall value by combining these two -- these will be the ones that really benefit from the bundles.

How does billing work? Are partners able to hold the papers for their own customers?

Hayes: It really depends on their partner relationship with us. Resellers are able to write the whole thing on their paper so their customer would get a bill from them, and our agents would simply pass through our paper. Either way is viable. And our paper is designed so [partners] can sell both sets of products -- networking and cloud.

What are partners asking for, and how is NaviSite helping them today?

Hayes: It depends on what their focus area is. Some of them are just interested in vaulting -- off-site secure storage -- and others are only interested in our new office 365 management and support product. Others are more interested in cloud infrastructure, and a few are interested in our full suite. We are always vetting more partners. We like to meet folks and find out how serious they are, and how equipped they are to sell our products. Honestly, NaviSite solutions are more complex than plugging a router into the wall. Networking can be complex, but the cloud is even more complex.

What kinds of products or services has NaviSite rolled out recently that were designed with the channel in mind?

Hayes: We just introduced a more channel-friendly iteration of our self-service cloud interface [NaviCloud Director]. Before, it was better suited for a direct sales model and partners could use it, but it wasn't as easy. As partners were becoming more familiar with [the platform], they realized, 'Hey, this could be better for us,' and at the same time, we were looking at it thinking, 'Yeah, we could make this easier.'

Our cloud is done on a points-based system so you pay for what you consume on a monthly basis, and in the channel program, [partners] can take advantage of different tiers, so the more you consume, the better rate you get, which translates into more profit for the partners. Before there was a lot of manual calculation, and now it’s a lot more streamlined, so it's easier for them to sell it to their five or 10 customers and roll up all of their usage into one partner-level bill. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that may not translate into user functionality, but it makes delivery through the channel a whole lot better. Then we have our Office 365 product -- a fully supported version that partners can offer. Our entire product line is available to partners.

What does the future strategy for Time Warner Cable/NaviSite partners look like?

Hayes: The key focus areas for us moving forward is we definitely want to reinforce the ability to combine network and cloud together, and you'll see more out of us moving forward. Simultaneously, we are always looking for ways to streamline our product offerings in the channel and make the channel a more efficient sales avenue.

What do you want partners and potential partners to know about Time Warner Cable and NaviSite?

Hayes: Our programs are still relatively nascent in terms of awareness and demand, and there are a couple of reasons for that. For one, with the larger organizations which is our client base, networking and cloud groups are often separate teams. The cloud [teams] don't always think about the network -- they just assume it's there, and the network guys aren't really looking at how they can take advantage of the cloud. So, it's really getting at the business owners that understand and want more of a complete solution. Once they get engaged, the cloud teams understand, especially if they are coming from a regulated industry and need to have those insurances -- like privacy and security -- they are going to get it right away. For other folks, it may be simply the performance of the public Internet is not good enough for them, and they want a guaranteed gig pipe coming into the virtual data center.