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Channel: Apptix Looks to Channel for Growth

Hosting company launches partner program to sell hosted Exchange, SharePoint and other products.

Apptix Inc., one of the bigger hosted Exchange providers, is ramping up efforts to grow market share through the channel.

The Herndon, Va.-based company has about 200,000 Exchange subscribers worldwide. The company's hosted services also include voice and collaboration services for small and midsize businesses.

Apptix has had a few large, private-label partners in the past in one-off deals that involved fairly large volume commitments and a stable of several hundred smaller resellers, as well.

Company executives recently concluded that further growth will depend on a bigger and stronger reseller channel.

"The market becomes more and more competitive every year. The products are becoming commoditized. As a result, the cost of acquisition is going up and the price of the services is going down. The only way we can combat that is to be very friendly to resellers and be as supportive as we can," says Rick Rumbarger, vice president of product, who joined Apptix in November.

Revamped Partner Program
An investment in a new partner-management platform is allowing the company to move from an old system that required a phone call to get signed up as a partner to a completely automated system that integrates multiple back-end functions.

"We spent 2008 getting ready for the 2009 opportunity," Rumbarger says of Apptix's back-end changes. "The new platform automates provisioning and brings a single control-panel experience for us, for the reseller and for the customer. It also consolidates the billing regardless of the product set that you're purchasing."

That said, the white-label capability is a key element. While resellers can use the Apptix storefront and credit-card billing system, they can use their own branding on customer-facing consoles and the Apptix name doesn't show up on credit-card statements, Rumbarger explains.

Apptix expanded its formal partner program in February to support three standardized levels aside from the alliance-level deals with major private-label partners.
The Referral Program level is for companies interested in acting as agents, and that get commissions for referring clients to Apptix.

The next level is Reseller, which is for co-branded, out-of-the-box hosted services and includes white-label customer support provided by Apptix. In December, Apptix sold off its Indian operations and hired help-desk staff domestically so it could offer 24x7 support from within the United States.

Above Resellers are Power Resellers, which can offer an expanded set of products and can also manage their own networks of Apptix resellers.

Apptix at a Glance

Founded: 1997
Headquarters: Herndon, Va.
Employees: 200
MSPP Status: Gold Certified Partner
Exchange subscribers: 200,000
Customers: 20,000
Partners: Less than 1,000, looking for more
Products:

  • Hosted Exchange E-mail: Spam/virus protection, Compliance and archiving
  • Mobile E-mail: BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile, Good Mobile Messaging
  • VoIP
  • Hosted SharePoint
  • Web Conferencing (Office Communications Server 2007)
  • Secure Instant Messaging (Office Communications Server 2007)
  • Windows Web site Hosting
  • Virtual Private Servers
  • Reseller of EMC's Mozy online backup service

New Opportunities
"We have less than 1,000 resellers at this point. We get tens of thousands of seats from them. We're interested in having 10,000-plus resellers because we really believe that's the future of our company," Rumbarger says. "We're putting a lot of resources behind it."

Rumbarger hopes resellers will see new opportunities in the program, especially with small customers with fewer than 500 seats. "Maybe currently they can sell that customer a server for file sharing, but they couldn't otherwise get them onto Exchange," he notes. "Now they can have their brand continue to be in front of that customer and capture things like e-mail, which is one of the two stickiest products that you can have in your environment."

The other stickiest product? Voice, Rumbarger says. Apptix isn't offering its VoIP services through the Reseller or Power Reseller tiers yet because of challenges related to detailed billing and federal taxes. "We're actively working on getting Apptix Voice and Desktop Voice into our reseller channel," he says.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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