ShoreTel Announces Cloud Strategy
At ShoreTel's annual Champions partner conference in Orlando, in November 2012, the company presented its cloud strategy, explained how it is integrated into their on-premises strategy and how this will affect its partners.
“In 3-4 years, half the market will be hosted, and customers are increasingly demanding cloud,” said Dan Hoffman, President and GM ShoreTel Sky, and the former CEO of New York City-based M5 Networks. ShoreTel acquired M5 in February 2012; this move became the basis of ShoreTel's cloud strategy.
The proposal has concerned ShoreTel's partners as well as industry analysts who are wondering how the company aims to combine their cloud and on-premises businesses.
“Our on-prem strategy and our cloud strategy are largely independent today,” said David Petts, Senior VP of Worldwide Sales at ShoreTel. “We are driving to optimize the value proposition of both. We want to grow the cloud business fast and the on-prem ahead of the market. In the longer term, we are looking to get to a point at which you can mix and match those two environments, where you have that cross pollination. It's not something that's delivered today. And we want to include the partners in that journey.”
Previously M5 was mostly making direct sales with the help of a referral partner network. This is about to change.
“M5 sells direct, and we don't, but in the future that will be mitigated,” Petts said. “We are coming together 50 miles per hour from opposite directions. And the UC space is one where a good number of the cloud vendors don't even have a channel model. The M5 model – the model of our Sky cloud division today – is still a channel referral model. The long term plan is a channel enabler model along the referral model.”
ShoreTel's cloud channel model is comprised of three distinct programs:
a referral program for traditional ShoreTel resellers
a more conventional reseller program
a hybrid cloud-on premises model
“There are three ways for partners to participate in ShoreTel Sky,” said Hoffman told partners. You sign up for a quota, and get a recurring revenue stream. It's low investment and high return.”
The Enabled tier is currently in beta.
“It's all about building a business with us,” Hoffman said. “There is a higher quota, and a higher return, but you have to invest. We require a dedicated expert on the team. It can't be a hobby. It requires dedicated sales staff, certifications, and support.”
“VARs are realizing that the cloud is becoming essential to the long term survivability of their business so we are transitioning our referral model, and putting in an enablement model that will enable them to do the presentation and close the deal,” said Robert Maute, Sr. Director, Channel and Alliances, Cloud Division, at ShoreTel. “Seven partners are now part of the enablement process right now. We plan to add some more in January and the plan is to launch it next summer. The certifications are complete and ready to roll.”
ShoreTel is encouraging its traditional partners to make the shift into the cloud, although the company recognizes there will always be a place for those who don’t want to make the transition. (CU) Link