Emerging VoIP Player 3CX Touts Channel Gains Around Uptick In Cisco, Microsoft VARs

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The North American channel footprint of emerging VoIP player 3CX has grown steadily since the launch of its 3CX partner program in 2007. In an interview with CRN this week, the Nicosia, Cyprus-based company said that growth underscores its ability to give partners a unified communications (UC) solution that's purpose-built for the SMB space in a way that competitors, like Cisco, simply can't.

"If they are a Cisco reseller, we find that they are kicking our tires now," said Brian Conway, head of the North American channel at 3CX. "A lot of resellers, they just know that Cisco is backing out of the SMB space."

Cisco did not immediately respond to CRN's request for comment.


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3CX, whose flagship product is the 3CX Phone System, a VoIP-based PBX for Microsoft Windows, currently has 15,000 partners worldwide. In North America, a market the company didn't penetrate until 2007, the year after it was founded, it has roughly 5,000 solution provider and MSP partners.

Conway said 3CX, a member of CRN's 2011 and 2012 Emerging Vendors list, added "between 300 and 500" new partners in 2013 alone. He said he hopes to see similar growth next year. "We are always looking to add partners," Conway told CRN.

Jason Ulm, vice president of sales at Appia Communications, a Traverse City, Mich.-based managed service provider (MSP) and member of the 2010 and 2011 CRN Fast Growth list, has been selling the hosted version of the 3CX Phone System since February 2012. Appia's 3CX customers range from four to 900 seats, but Ulm said the 3CX Phone System definitely resonates with SMB customers in a way Cisco's UC offerings don't always do.

"Cisco's platform is a wonderful platform. It's feature-rich and does a lot of great things for an enterprise environment, but it generally requires people to be able to manage things on their own, and they usually have a big IT staff," Ulm said. "But the customers buying out the hosted [3CX] platform maybe have one IT guy, or maybe they don't have any. They need the service, but they don't necessarily want to do the service."

Ulm also said Appia was drawn to the 3CX system because of its flexible licensing model and ease of use. He said the company saw "hockey stick" growth with the 3CX product, and is currently acquiring between 10 and 15 new 3CX customers each month.

The 3CX Phone System, available in both a hosted and on-premise model, provides an open-standard UC platform for Windows that works with standard SIP phones and replaces a proprietary PBX. It was developed specifically for Windows and is based on the SIP standard, making it easier to manage and allowing users to use any SIP phone.

3CX also offers 3CXPhone for Android and 3CXPhone for iPhone platforms that integrate with the 3CX Phone System and allow users to make and receive office calls from their Android or iOS-based smartphone and tablet.

NEXT: 3CX Partner Program, Growing Product Portfolio

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