Stalker To Pursue More E-Mail Sales Through Partners

The company wants to raise the percentage of products going through partners to 60 percent from the current 40 percent in 12 to 18 months, said Jon Doyle, vice president of business development at Stalker, which has its U.S. headquarters in Mill Valley, Calif.

The program will be tiered into CommuniGate Pro Authorized Reseller, Select Reseller and Premier Reseller, and will include a lead-generation system and a commission on referrals, the company said.

"It used to be pretty much a straight discount program on the software, not a lot other than that and a listing on the Web site. Now they're trying to formalize it, tier it and do more co-marketing," said Ben Nunez, president and CEO of XIF Communications, a Washington-based hosted e-mail provider and longtime Stalker partner.

XIF, which targets small to midsize businesses, has seen a bump in business among customers moving from Microsoft Exchange Server, Nunez said. Stalker, which does most of its development in Russia and Europe, has kept ahead of the pace, adding realtime communications and VoIP to its lineup last summer.

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"Stability, scalability and technical superiority is why we've stayed with them. And when Exchange 2003 came out last fall, we saw opportunities for migrations off of that among many customers who were still on Exchange 5.5 and 2000," Nunez said.

Stalker itself vies for SMBs with partners, but 40 percent of its business is currently coming from large telecoms, primarily outside the United States. In that space, it competes with Critical Path and OpenWave (formerly

Doyle said the company's technology architecture enables it to support 33 underlying platforms fairly easily. "We can play in Unix, in Linux, in Windows. We interface with the SIP protocol for presence, so we can use IM, establish VoIP calls, videoconferencing through standard applications like [Windows] Messenger. The advantage to midsize companies is they don't have to be beholden to AT&T or Vonage to set up their own VoIP network," Doyle said.

Smaller companies also appreciate the price tag. Doyle said a typical Stalker implementation is $20 per user vs. about $80 per user for Exchange or Lotus Domino.

Indeed, IBM Software has taken note of these less pricey mail offerings and for a year has been pitching its own inexpensive Workplace mail as an alternative.