Alteva: IP Phones Meet Hardware as a Service?

Alteva: IP Phones Meet Hardware as a Service?

At the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, it's safe to expect IP phones to converge with hardware as a service (HaaS). The reason: Alteva, a hosted unified communications company, has confirmed plans to offer an IP phone rental program to SMBs that require 10 or more handsets. Alteva's strategy includes a close working relationship with Microsoft in the UC market, plus a channel program for MSPs and VARs. Here are the preliminary details.

Although the Channel Partners Conference & Expo doesn't start until Sept. 20 in Washington, D.C., Alteva has confirmed plans for its rental-based IP phone strategy, which will be on display at the conference. In a prepared statement, Alteva says the company is:

now offering its complete UC solution to organizations purchasing 10 or more phones through an IP phone rental program. Companies that choose to take advantage of the rental program will not have to put any money down to get a new Voice over IP phone system.

"This rental option will greatly improve the channel managers’ ability to close sales in this turbulent economy,” said Alteva Chief Sales Officer Louis Hayner.
Naturally, Alteva wants channel partners to promote the IP phone rental offer to end-customers. Admittedly, phone rentals are not the same as true Hardware as a Service (HaaS) -- which involves a pay-as-you-go model for end-customers and/or their channel partners.

Still, the idea of IT as a Service, including rented hardware, seems to be growing. As ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini aptly said to me a few months ago: Take a look around the small business and try to determine which IT devices will remain anchored in the office, and which will shift to the cloud? Bellini pointed to printers, desktops and notebooks, and IP phones as core devices that would remain on-premise even as their services shifted into the cloud. But he said the on-premise devices would shift to a pay-as-you-go model.

It sounds simple enough. But I wonder how many VARs and MSPs are prepared to offer pay-as-you-go IP phones?

Alteva, like a growing number of Microsoft hosting partners, already promotes hosted Exchange, SharePoint and Office Communiciations Server (OCS, recently rebranded as Lync Server). But those markets are becoming saturated with rivals. I wonder if the IP phone rental model will be a key point of differentiation -- and for how long?

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