Channel Partners Conference: Will VARs Embrace Hosted PBXes?

At the Channel Partners Conference and Expo (March 13-15, Las Vegas), there's plenty of dialog about hosted PBX and cloud-related VoIP services that VARs can white label as their own. In some ways, the hosted PBX solutions could potentially transform VARs into cloud services providers. However, some solutions providers remain skeptical of cloud-centric PBX and VoIP services.

Here's the recap so far...

  • Cbeyond Inc. launched a Cloud Services Private Label Reseller program. The Cbeyond Cloud Services portfolio includes virtual servers, managed dedicated servers, cloud PBXes and software as a service options. The first Cbeyond Cloud Services reseller is Tiverity, a Cisco solutions provider in Atlanta, Ga. Leveraging Cbeyond, Tiverity has launched CloudSpeak, a unified communications solution for small and midsize businesses.

  • Telcentris Inc. of San Diego, Calif., unveiled WL2 and WL3 -- two additions to its white label VoIP services. Overall, Telcentris now offers three white label packages that allow channel partners to private-brand SIP trunking, hosted IP-PBX solutions, carrier services, SMS, callback services and residential landline replacement.

Familiar Ring to It

The hosted PBX trend seems to be accelerating. Over in Los Angeles, Primus Telecommunications has opened an office to promote fully managed VoIP and hosted PBX services to small and midsize businesses. The hosted approach allows customers to keep the same phone numbers regardless of their location, and the customer can easily add or reduce the number of lines and features depending on their business needs, according Primus.

Last month Parallels announced plans to help hosting providers embrace PBX services. And on March 15 in New York, Intermedia is expected to discuss hosted PBX strategies with roughly 80 to 120 MSPs that already offer Hosted Exchange.

No doubt, unified communications and hosted PBX services are hot topics for VARs and MSPs. During the Parallels Summit last month, multiple guest speakers estimated that MSPs could charge about $50 per seat per month for a complete hosted PBX solution, generating 35 percent margins along the way. And many Parallels Summit attendees said they were set to evaluate hosted VoIP solutions from Broadsoft. Even before the Parallels event started, Parallels President Jack Zubarev weighed in with hosted PBX thoughts (see TalkinCloud FastChat Video, left).

Still, plenty of VARs and MSPs remain wary of hosted PBX services. During the Cisco Partner Summit in New Orleans two weeks ago, some solutions providers said they are sticking with on-premise unified communications because they've yet to find the right blend of features, functions and price in a white label hosted PBX service.

I wonder if chatter at Channel Partners Conference will sway more VoIP opinions toward the cloud.

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