Sonus Channel Program Targets SIP-Savvy Partners

new session border controllers focused on enterprise customers

Session border controllers, or SBCs, are hot right now due to the increasing customer adoption of SIP-based communications and are expected to grow 26 percent year-over-year through 2016, according to Infonetics Research. SIP trunks help cut costs as customers make the transition to VoIP-based communications, and it's Sonus' contention that customers are looking to SBCs to more easily enable, police and secure those deployments.

Enter the Sonus Partner Assure program, which will authorize VARs and service providers to sell Sonus' SBC 5200 and SBC 5100 products. Sonus will sell 100 percent through the channel to enterprise customers and also enlist some partners on selling to its more than 120 telecom customer accounts, where it traditionally has thrived.

[Related: New SBC Positions Sonus Networks In Enterprise Channel ]

Joe McLaughlin, Sonus' recently appointed vice president of channels, told CRN that the No. 1 goal of the new program was to keep it simple. Partner Assure only has one tier of partnership and Sonus doesn't plan to work with distributors.

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"There are a lot of vendors that require an admin for partners to work with their programs," McLaughlin said. "We wanted simplicity and we wanted it to be profitable."

Parnter Assure includes sales and technical training, joint marketing consulting that involves market planning, demand generation and business development funds on a discretionary basis, and a customer solution design and ordering system. Sonus' direct touch enterprise sales team was built specifically to assist Sonus VARs, McLaughlin said.

Westford, Mass.-based Sonus is still small -- it reported about $259.7 million in revenue for fiscal 2011 -- but has heavy hitters on its executive roster. Todd Abbott, who joined Sonus as senior vice president, worldwide sales and marketing in May 2011 a year after leaving the top sales job at Avaya, has spent much of this past year expanding it.

McLaughlin, who was most recently global channel chief at Novell and is a longtime channel hand, is the latest recruit. Even though Sonus is growing, it's still an emerging vendor placing careful bets as it expands into enterprise, he said.

"We don't have millions that we can throw around and not track; we have to look at the ROI in what we're doing," he said. "So we're really respectful of what we're investing with the partners and what we can dedicate to them for resources."

Sonus has about 10 resellers now, and its enterprise program launch partners include Arrow S3, AT&T, IKUI, NextiraOne, Sabio, TSG, Verizon, Verscom and West. The goal is to recruit an additional 20 to 25 worldwide by the end of the year, said McLaughlin.

"It is our intention to look at the best partners and those willing to commit to us and have us commit to them," he said. "We are dedicating a lot of resources to make them successful, and we want them to be profitable and have a real difference from the hundreds of partners our competition may have out there."

McLaughlin echoed comments made by Abbott to CRN last month that customers need SIP-centric solutions that aren't tied to homogeneous vendor environments and closed systems.

"It's not often in the Fortune 1000 than customers have one specific environment. They have Cisco, they have Avaya, they almost all have some kind of Microsoft category somewhere in the company," McLaughlin said. "So it makes sense to look at partners that have understanding of that and understand our value is cross-vendor."