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Adtran Channel Chief: Managed Service Providers Joining the Fold

The VAR channel remains an important part of Adtran's strategy.

James Anderson

August 24, 2018

3 Min Read
managed services

Adtran‘s channel has expanded to support MSPs, agents and monthly recurring revenue.

Meggin Sawyer, vice president of business solutions and cloud services, told Channel Partners that while Adtran’s networking hardware remains a hot commodity to resell, the company is introducing more software and services for its partners to provide to end users.

Sawyer was on hand at Adtran Connect event this week in Huntsville, Alabama, where company executives introduced several initiatives to members of the tech media. We wrote Thursday about CEO Tom Stanton’s goals for the company in the upcoming years.

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Adtran’s Meggin Sawyer

Sawyer, an Adtran employee for almost 20 years, spoke to us about how the partner channels she oversees are changing. We have edited the transcript for length and clarity.

Channel Partners: What’s new with Adtran’s channel?

Meggin Sawyer: We have this core line of solutions that we’ve been selling through this channel for a long time. In the last year we’ve added a whole breadth of software solutions that we can sell on top of that, all the way from what we call ProCloud UC, which is our cloud-based unified communications solutions. And then we have a cloud-based security solution.

We’ve taken all of our product line, and we’ve monetized it into monthly recurring charge solutions. You still can buy it completely outright if you’d prefer to do that, but we have a monthly recurring charge solution as well. The whole purpose of that is to go through our channel and allow them to start positioning new software-type services. The channel has also increased for us, so it used to be that the majority of our customers were traditional telecom VARs. We’ve now expanded that to managed service providers and then into the agent model. Our channel has increased beyond our traditional carriers and VARs into the managed-service-provider marketplace, and also into the agent marketplace.

CP: Are the new MSPs and agents an addition to the VARs or an evolution of the VARs?

MS: Both. In the VAR channel, there are some folks that are transitioning into the managed service provider marketplace. Not all, but there’s a percentage of those that are transitioning. And then there are what I would call born-in-the-cloud MSPs. Those are the additions.

CP: I imagine the monthly recurring change came from partner feedback.

MS: That’s actually end-user feedback that we got. Most of our partners – beside the managed service providers – are still really wanting to buy and then resell solutions and add services on top of it. They’re slowly but surely transitioning to that model, because that’s what their end users are asking for.

CP: What are some of the expectations that are changing in the next year for partners?

MS: I think our partner base [depends] on which group we’re talking to. Agents need something completely different than what a traditional VAR or even a managed service provider would need. They need a lot more …… services wrap-around. That would be some of the expectations you could see growth on from our end.

There is also a lot more interest from all three of our channels on more marketing development for specific line-of-business solutions. Traditionally in the hardware marketplace, we’ve been very used to selling by data sheet: “Here’s a product. It’s got these features, and here are the benefits.” In the new marketplace of software, it’s not sold that way. Software is sold based upon what the benefit is to the line of business that we’re selling it to, usually based on two things. One, you’re either going to save me a lot of money, because whatever you’re offering me is going to lower my operational costs. Or it’s going to grow my revenue substantially.

CP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

MS: We’re very excited about where the marketplace is going. I think our core business is still very relevant and successful. Nobody’s walking away from hardware. … So what we’re working on is, how do we help our provider marketplace navigate this change from a services perspective and add additional services to their repertoire to grow revenue and margins?

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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