Switchvox Wants VARs Seeking SMB VoIP Play

Switchvox, a startup IP telephony player founded a year and a half ago, is now courting networking- and voice-focused partners to sell its IP-PBX platform. The vendor's eponymous IP-PBX is based on the Asterisk open-source Linux telephone system software and can accommodate both traditional analog lines and VoIP services.

"They've put a nice front end on it and made it easy for anybody to configure and use," said Adam Bristol, president of Current-Concepts, a solution provider in Lyme, N.H.

Solution providers that join the Switchvox Reseller Partner Program can purchase a software-only distribution of the platform, an option not available directly to customers that buy via the company's Web site, said Joshua Stephens, CEO of Switchvox, San Diego. This gives partners more flexibility and enables them to source hardware locally, he said.

"You put the CD in on a blank machine, and it installs the whole thing. You don't have to install Linux first," Stephens said.Solution providers that join the program agree only to install the software on Switchvox-certified hardware, which currently includes a lineup of desktops and servers from Asus, Dell and Hewlett-Packard. In addition, Switchvox will test and certify other hardware systems for partners upon request.

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Other program benefits include access to sales and technical support as well as free training. The company launched the formal partner program because of the high level of interest solution providers have expressed in its products, Stephens said. More than 200 resellers have registered, about half of which have signed contracts, he said.

Currently, the company does about 60 percent of its product sales through its Web site, with the remaining 40 percent through partners, though Stephens expects partner sales to exceed direct sales within the next few months. Switchvox does not have a direct-sales force.

A Switchvox solution can offer significant cost savings to customers, particularly because features such as Automatic Call Distributor, calling groups, Interactive Voice Response and voice-mail are built-in, Bristol said. Switchvox is targeted at customers with eight to 100 users. It supports analog phones as well as any handset based on Session Initiation Protocol. List pricing for a Switchvox system, including hardware, starts at $995.