Telecom Service Provider Nitel Unveils SD-WAN, SD-Security Services For Partners As Provider 'Doubles Down' On Indirect Sales Efforts

Channel-first telecom management service provider Nitel is expanding its portfolio of managed services to include software-defined WAN and software-defined security services to its ecosystem of telecom agent partners.

Chicago-based Nitel is teaming up with SD-WAN provider Versa Networks to deliver SD-WAN and SD-Security services, the provider announced on Wednesday. The combination will help its partners meet the demand of midsized and enterprise customers as these businesses demand secure, easy-to-manage and intelligent networks, Scott Stricklin, Nitel's senior vice president of sales and marketing, told CRN.

"We're offering one solution that's easy to configure, use, and sell, and it will help our partners become more successful because it shows easier and solves customers' problems in a simple way," Stricklin said.

[Related: Windstream Rolls Out VeloCloud-Powered SD-WAN Offering For Partners, Business Customers]

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Within the past year, Nitel made the shift toward becoming a "channel-led" provider, Stricklin said. Nitel has since eliminated its internal direct sales force and instead converted this team to supporting its indirect channel sales force.

"We achieved a 150 percent growth over the past year because of that within our channel business. Not competing with master agents and agent partners is giving us a better story to tell, and we really want to be able to equip these partners to be successful," he said.

Nitel is further 'doubling down' on the channel with more partner engagement efforts, support, and sales incentives for partners, Stricklin said. SD-WAN services, he said, are quickly climbing to the top of the list of services that telecom agent and master agent partners want to offer.

Nitel is joining a steadily-growing group of providers coming to the market with SD-WAN solutions. But the provider has been very intentional about its strategy by testing many different SD-WAN providers, Stricklin said.

"We've spent six to nine months evaluating software and a lot of different vendors. We didn't want to introduce complexity to the marketplace, and we wanted to give our partners and customers a feature-rich set of SD-WAN intelligent routing and application management, along with SD-security, like firewalls and anti-virus built-in," he said.

SD-WAN services at the heart of the Nitel's portfolio will help Nitel and its partners deliver affordable and consistent connectivity across a single network. The new SD-WAN service offers application management and greater network reliability over Nitel’s global managed public and private WAN services from about 180 different carriers, the company said. Nitel partners also have access to an accompanying web portal that offers built-in analytics, application-driven routing, and network management.

"Right out of the box, partners can take critical applications, like cloud apps, and see exactly where the traffic should be put and what connection should be used as a primary or backup line," Stricklin said. "That view, by application, is a little different from what other providers are offering."

As a further differentiator, Nitel's new SD Security services include integrated next-generation firewall and unified threat management.

Alongside its new services, Nitel making on-demand and live SD-WAN training available to its base of partners as a way to further encourage the channel to learn more about these services, the company said. Nitel's new comprehensive SD-WAN Playbook describes how channel partners can effectively market and sell SD-WAN services. Field sales and engineering support are also available to Nitel channel partners, the company said.