Stalker Pursues Channel Sales

Through the new program, Stalker hopes to increase channel sales of its CommuniGate Pro messaging servers, which include built-in antispam and secu- rity features and support third-party antispam and antivirus solutions.

The company wants to raise the percentage of its 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, Mill Valley, Calif.

The program classifies partners across three tiers: CommuniGate Pro Authorized Reseller, Select Reseller and Premier Reseller. It also includes 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 ... 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.

Sponsored post

XIF, which targets small to midsize companies, has seen a bump in Stalker business as customers look for alternatives to 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.

"Stability, scalability and technical superiority is why we've stayed with them," he said. "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."

Stalker itself vies for SMB customers with partners, but 40 percent of its business comes 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 supports 33 underlying platforms. "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 and videoconferencing through standard applications like [Windows] Messenger," he said. "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."

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

One Stalker partner is not thrilled that the new plan has boosted prices to customers in order to cover the costs of the marketing extras, but still lauds the product itself as simple and reliable. "Stalker does what it's supposed to do," said Kevin McMahon, branch manager for Innovative Solutions' Buffalo, N.Y., office. McMahon estimates that customer prices for Stalker have risen from about $500 for 50 users to about $700 for 25 users.

Still, he and others said Stalker is significantly less expensive than Exchange Server and Domino, and, for most users, after a little education about what CommuniGate does, they said the issue of name recognition is not a problem.