2018 Network Connectivity Partner Program Guide: The Cloud Is Calling

Network connectivity providers, service providers and master agents alike have been encouraging solution providers to think bigger when it comes to connectivity sales.

Selling connectivity, once a straightforward opportunity that meant choosing a carrier and linking a business' branch office locations, has become a multifaceted opportunity. Solution providers selling networking and connectivity today need to keep their customers' hybrid IT needs in mind, and consider the cloud in every sale, according to connectivity service providers.

Between 30 percent and 50 percent of all enterprise traffic has moved off-premises and is shifting to the cloud, meaning that the cloud has to be considered part of a business' network, according to market research firm Gartner.

Helping solution providers to navigate this new world is CRN's annual Network Connectivity Partner Program Guide, which highlights the service providers, infrastructure providers and master agents whose telecom, cloud and connectivity offerings are helping their partners succeed.

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Year over year from 2017 to 2018, Telecom Brokerage Inc. (TBI), a master agent based in Chicago, has seen a 322 percent increase in data center sales. A significant portion of these sales consists of channel partners selling cloud connection solutions, said Jeff Newton, vice president of enterprise sales and engineering for TBI.

"The channel is moving more towards the cloud and taking that into account for their connectivity sales cycle," Newton said.

Meanwhile, Charlotte, N.C.-based cloud service provider Flexential, which does 40 percent of its business through the channel, is the fifth largest co-location provider in the country. With the help of partners, the cloud provider is reaching larger customers than it ever has before, said Flexential Chief Product Officer Mike Fuhrman.

"We're seeing a growing appetite from MSPs to take advantage of the platform we built," he said.

Business customers today don't look like the business customers of 10 years ago. Solution providers that aren't going after hybrid IT sales, including connectivity and cloud sales, are missing out on big opportunities, according to Fuhrman.

While some workloads will stay on-premises, others will be scattered across private cloud and public cloud environments. Many CIOs are faced with IT complexities that they need help solving, he said.

"IT and data isn't strictly within the customers' four walls anymore—that world is gone," Fuhrman said. "Anyone just focused on connectivity from a campus to a carrier and calling it a day is going to really miss out on the customers that are looking for help designing and implementing a fairly complex network."

Some legacy solution providers have built their businesses around connectivity and for them the cloud learning curve can be daunting. But networking and connectivity is an easy talking point for entering cloud conversations, according to network service providers.

Unlike the margin solution providers could receive from simply focusing on reselling public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services and Microfot Azure, selling the connectivity piece gives them a healthy recurring commission, TBI's Newton said.

"There isn't that much to go around for the traditional channel yet on reselling public cloud infrastructure," he said. "It pales in comparison to the residual earned on the networking side."