Partners Offering Hardware, Carrier Services Combo Get A Leg Up On The Competition

As the convergence of traditional IT and telecom continues, vendors with roots in hardware offerings are jumping on the bandwagon to offer more complete IT packages that include connectivity services for their customers. The trend is trickling down, and is translating into recurring revenue opportunities for solution providers.

Juniper Networks last month introduced one of its first programs aimed at partners that integrates hardware and connectivity services. The Cable Business Service Program, dubbed "Cable as a Channel," couples Juniper's hardware -- the ACX Series Universal Access routers -- with voice, Internet and data from Comcast Business Services.

The combination of equipment and connectivity services also allows VARs to design fully baked solutions for customers that can beat out other solution providers who don't bundle the two, said Tim Kennedy, vice president of carrier services for Carousel Industries, an elite Juniper partner.

[Related: Juniper And Ruckus Form Partnership; Move Shows End Of Aruba Alliance, Partners Say ]

Sponsored post

"Some of our competitors who sell equipment who are not talking to their customers about their carrier services can be displaced by a company like us and others that broaden the conversation to give a more complete solution to them," Kennedy said.

Partners are realizing the benefit of building a telecom practice because of its significant recurring revenue and improved profit opportunities. These opportunities can be extended to small, midsize and large enterprise customers, said David Scholnick, director of partner sales and U.S. cables for Juniper. "Comcast and other cable providers do not sell infrastructure or edge hardware gear, so there isn't a channel conflict with this model," he added.

This partnership will help Juniper demonstrate the value of bundling carrier services with equipment for VARs that aren't doing it on their own, Carousel's Kennedy said.

"Instead of just the traditional approach of looking at one [component] and then the other, we can design solutions for our customers more holistically," he said. "It adds value to our customer relationships because, from a pre-sales perspective, we can think about their bandwidth and networking needs, but also, from a post-sales perspective, customers appreciate us being able to give them day-2 support and simplified management."

Hewlett-Packard and CenturyLink also revealed a similar partnership last month that combines CenturyLink's IT and cloud services on HP gear. The offerings are now being sold by solution provider partners.

Juniper's Cable as a Channel takes advantage of Comcast Business' network of more than 1 million Ethernet-enabled buildings, Juniper said. The Juniper ACX Series Universal Access router runs the vendor's operating system software, Junos. This hardware will enable Comcast to deliver both Layer 2 and Layer 3 network services to their end users, Scholnick said.

"The Cable Business Services Program enables our partners to use the WAN as a competitive sales tool by allowing them to resell Comcast Business Services,’ he said.

Exeter, R.I.-based Carousel Industries partners with several major U.S. carriers, including Comcast. Combining hardware and carrier services is somewhat of a defensive position for solution providers, but it hasn't always been easy for VARs to work with carriers, Kennedy said.

"Some VARs have perceptions about carriers that they can be difficult and they don't want to get involved with that, but if you do it right and hire the right resources, it's a tremendous source of new and reoccurring revenue, and it can actually help boost hardware sales too," he said.

Carousel Industries will be wrapping the Cable as a Channel service with its managed services agreement for its end customers. Some partners will be adding their own features to the service, such as managed security or virtualized routing, Scholnick said. "With ecosystems changing rapidly and hardware under increasing commoditization pressures, partners may also create other white-labeled and/or managed services [around Cable as a Service]," he said.

The relationship between Juniper and Comcast won't be exclusive, either, Scholnick said. "We plan to work with other tier-one multisystem operators since no one cable operator has a footprint or coverage model that maps to all of our U.S. partners."