Peak 10 To Partners: 'We're Open For Business And Want To Teach You About Cloud'

Peak 10, a Cisco-powered IaaS provider, believes that the best way to reach customers is through partners.

Peak 10 was founded in 2000 and has been invested in the channel since the partner program was launched in 2012 by the now retired former channel chief and senior vice president, Steve Harris. Having a channel-friendly approach to the market has paid dividends for the cloud service provider, who takes in about 40 percent of its revenues today through indirect sales. Peak 10 wants solution providers to know that it is actively looking to continue to grow its business through the channel.

"We want to get the word out that we are open for business and committed to the channel. Partners, we want to help you learn about cloud," Dave Sroka, vice president of channel sales for Charlotte, N.C.-based Peak 10, told CRN .

[Related: Peak 10's New Channel Chief Dave Sroka Aims To Pump Up Commitment To The Channel]

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About 40 percent of Peak 10's new customers today come from its channel partners, Sroka said. The reason why he believes solution providers are a force to be reckoned in the cloud market today is because the IT market is changing, and with that, so are margins on hardware and connectivity services. Impacted partners are starting to leave their comfort zones in search of higher-value services and solutions that they can offer their end customers.

"Ten years ago, IP was $20 a [megabit], and now it's 30 cents. Customers are also price-shopping a lot more. Those are real changes that are impacting partners," Sroka said.

As margins pinch on circuits, solution providers are turning their attention to more lucrative and long-term sales opportunities, such as cloud services, he said.

Cloud-based services provide a recurring and potentially long-term revenue stream for partners because many customers renew subscriptions on these services, he said, so the cloud market is a great opportunity for the channel. Unlike the predictable routine of customers switching to a cheaper carrier for connectivity needs, the competitive pressure that providers feel as a result of their customers switching to a lower-cost cloud provider is "nonexistent," Sroka said.

"The big thing about co-location and cloud is the churn is so low. When [partners] bring a customer in and take good care of that customer, they tend not to leave," Sroka explained. "It's not worth the aggravation and potential risks because you are talking about critical compute layers you'd have to move as opposed to an IP circuit that is really easy to flip."

But selling cloud is a lot different than selling a circuit.

"Partners are wondering how to get into it and who to partner with because there are so many options, and cloud providers are all different," he acknowledged.

This is where Peak 10 comes in. Sroka's team has been helping with partner education and has even created a new role within the company aimed at promoting and training partners on Peak 10's services and solutions. Heading up this effort is Prince Khaalik, partner support manager for Peak 10, whose job is to work with and educate traditional resellers and agent partners.

Peak 10 plans to continue to bolster its educational resources and is currently developing a cloud certification track for partners, Sroka said.

To demonstrate its commitment to the channel, Peak 10 added new channel managers this year, bringing the number to six. Three of these managers are outside of the provider's legacy Southeast footprint.

Today, Peak 10 partners can turn to two different channel resources. Solution providers can tap the regional partner manager located within their market, as well as their assigned direct representative. Many VAR partners are opting to loop their representative into conversations with customers, while agent partners often allow Peak 10 to close the sale with the end customer and collect a commission from Peak 10.

Every partner has different ways of interacting with their end customers, and Peak 10's channel program is designed to respect those differences and follow the partners' lead, Sroka said.

"We ask them if they want us to talk to the customer with them or without them, and if they want to sell together. We use the partner's direction to [dictate] how we go to the customer and present the solution," he explained.

Avant, a self-proclaimed born-in-the-cloud master agent, has had a long-standing partnership with Peak 10. The Chicago-based master agent sees Peak 10 as a leading cloud provider in the channel that is helping partners evolve their portfolios and get up to speed with cloud services.

’Optimizing technology for how business works today is not something that is flipped on like a light switch. It takes acumen, strong partnerships, and a roll-up-your-sleeves attitude to make it happen. Peak 10 brings this all together as one of the leaders in the cloud space," said Ian Kieninger, CEO of Avant.

As Sroka settles into his first year as channel chief, he wants partners to know that the channel is a big part of Peak 10's go-to-market sales strategy for 2017.

"We have spent a lot more money in channel this year," he said. "We are looking to be seen as a national provider – not just a regional provider in the Southeast, and the biggest thing for us is, we are really looking to grow business through the channel."