Distributors Take Unified Communications to the Cloud

April 12, 2011

2 Min Read
Distributors Take Unified Communications to the Cloud

By samdizzy

Rival distributors Ingram Micro and Synnex continue to advance their respective cloud computing channel partner programs. The latest efforts involve Ingram Micro and Synnex each making hosted PBX and cloud unified communications moves. Ingram is offering Intermedia Hosted PBX to North America channel partners, while Synnex has introduced CLOUDSolv UC, a private-branded Unified Communications cloud. The big challenge: Convincing skeptical VARs and MSPs that hosted PBX services are ready for end customers.

Don’t misread my perspective: TalkinCloud truly believes that hosted PBX and unified communications are the next big cloud opportunities for channel partners. However, the efforts are long-term opportunities that face near-term challenges. During a range of recent channel partner conferences, particularly Cisco Partner Summit in March, a range of VARs and MSPs told me they were not yet ready to trust hosted PBX and unified communications in the cloud for a variety of reasons including:

  • the need for five-nines (99.999%) dial tone reliability

  • the need to better understand local, cross-state and International phone service opportunities and challenges

  • the need to better understand margin and pricing opportunities in the cloud vs. on-premise IP PBX solutions.

Latest Moves

Still, plenty of channel partners are marching toward hosted PBX services. Ingram Micro and Synnex are more than happy to accelerate those efforts. Ingram has partnered up with Intermedia, a hosted Exchange specialist that’s been promoting white label hosted PBX services to partners in recent months. But even Intermedia has been in learning mode over the past year, revamping its original strategy and more recently introducing support for Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange integration.

Meanwhile, Synnex has introduced a hosted UC solution, including VoIP and Desktop services which work off a Microsoft/Broadsoft platform that can be delivered nationwide in an “easy to sell, easy to deploy, easy to use” format, Synnex claims.

Long term, VARs and MSPs need to figure out hosted PBX strategies — especially as small businesses abandon on-premise, up-front IT purchases. And also because margins in traditional hosted services — like Hosted Exchange — will continue to shrink. But short terms, plenty of VARs and MSPs continue to raise questions about cost models, margins and the reliability of hosted PBX solutions.

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