PowerCloud Revamps Channel Program For Wi-Fi-As-A-Service

The PowerUp Partner Program comes as Palo Alto, Calif.-based PowerCloud undergoes an even broader business transformation, selling its technology to enterprises and vertical markets under its own PowerCloud brand, rather than selling exclusively to networking OEMs, as it has in the past.

"The business model that PowerCloud had had for several years was actually to be the technology behind other brands," said Jeff Abramowitz, founder and CEO of PowerCloud. "So one of the reasons we never really talked to CRN was that we never had a brand of our own."

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Now, however, PowerCloud is starting to develop its own wireless gear, such as indoor and outdoor access points, and is looking to grow its footprint -- and the strength of its brand -- in the enterprise, along with verticals such as hospitality and retail.

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To do this, Abramowitz said, PowerCloud wants to leverage the channel. And, he continued, PowerCloud's Network-as-a-Service offering should be one that resonates well with solution providers.

"The idea we had was this notion of tying the cloud to networking infrastructure and to infuse networking products with powerful features and functionality from the cloud, simplifying capabilities to set up networking infrastructures, and then ultimately being able to deliver applications over networking infrastructures," Abramowitz said. "That is the way the industry has gone, so the good news there is that we set out with the right vision."

PowerCloud, founded in 2008 within Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and then spun out in 2010, views its offering as a strong sell for both MSPs and traditional networking VARs looking to boost their services play. The company already works with roughly 100 partners today , Abramowitz said, and sells 100 percent through the channel in the U.S.

Abramowitz said PowerCloud's Network-as-a-Service was built from the ground up with MSPs in mind, and is already equipped with a managed services dashboard called MSPView, from which MSPs can view and manage the wireless infrastructures across all their customer accounts.

Abramowitz noted that Cisco just unveiled a similar dashboard for its Meraki Wi-Fi solutions, but that PowerCloud knew to include this functionality from the start.

"We built what we call 'MSPView' into our fabric from the get-go," Abramowitz said. "PowerCloud has had this all along."

Jeffrey Lawton, president of Smart Hospitality, a hospitality-focused MSP based in Visalia, Calif., said one of the biggest benefits of partnering with PowerCloud and reselling its cloud-based wireless has been the level of visibility he has into customer accounts.

"It's an amazing tool because we have realtime visibility into every single access point we have ever installed and we can get realtime alerts any time an access point goes down," said Lawton. "Usually, we are calling the customer to let them know there's an access point that has disconnected for some reason before they even know it happens."

The new PowerUp Program introduced this week includes Gold and Silver partner designations based on the volume partners sell, Abramowitz told CRN. It also includes new partner services and resources, including lead generation tools, demo and evaluation units, more robust product training, marketing support and deal registration.

Abramowitz did not specify product discounts, but said they will vary based on a partner's status.

"The [program] really is for us to bring more folks into the PowerCloud family, help us build the PowerCloud ecosystem, and grow the opportunity for Wi-Fi-as-a-Service," Abramowitz said.

PowerCloud Tuesday also unveiled an offering called TenantWiFi, which allows for the creation of individual private networks on public access points. The solution is being targeted at multitenant buildings, such as hospitals or malls, where private networks might be demanded for privacy reasons, but shared infrastructures are already in place for cost and roaming service reasons.