Mitel has signed Uptime Distribution as part of plans to expand its channel support system.
Mitel managing director, Gwilym Funnell, said it chose to work with the supplier because of its services-oriented business model.
"The key was to work with someone who was more than just a box dropper," he said. "We see a huge gap in the market for having a distributor not only with the stock, but also offering services like support and fulfillment to resellers."
Mitel also maintains an agreement with Telstra Business Systems.
The introduction of an additional distributor will allow the vendor to provide partners with missing skills, Funnell said. For example, Uptime could undertake services such as network checks, or support voice-centric partners with additional data integration skills, he said. Alternatively, it could provide services in geographic areas where partners were unable to reach.
Uptime would not be participating in any direct sales to end-users, he said.
The distributor's general manager, Paul Kawtal, said he was focused on filling the gap between procurement and customer solution. It had elected to work with Mitel because of its strong overseas market penetration, he said.
"I don't see why we can't get that locally," Kawtal said. "VoIP is a huge market but we have a skills shortage. We have to equip resellers and integrators to deliver solutions - it's not just a product sell anymore."
The deal with Mitel is the first to be launched by the distributor. Kawtal said he was also in discussions with HP to offer a similar service to its reseller base.
"We're looking for other vendors to work with, predominantly in the infrastructure space," he said. "Our skills can be applied to any type of technology, but we're probably more suited to select or niche complex technologies."
To coincide with its added distribution skills, Mitel has unveiled new tiers to its reseller ranks. Channel partners will now be divided into four categories: authorised reseller, along with silver, gold or platinum.
Each would be dependent on the level of technical skills across each partner's organisation, Funnell said. For instance, silver resellers would be required to have at least one technical support staff member accredited in Mitel's voice solution, as well as a data-based product, such as those from HP.
By contrast, top tier platinum partners would need to be accredited in about 80 per cent of the vendor's 30 applications, he said.
In return, each partner tier would have varying access to marketing, classroom-based training and support, such as online sales resources and Web presentations.
Funnell said Mitel now had one platinum partner, as well as several gold and silver resellers through its TBS partnership. Most of its new resellers were now sitting at a silver level, he said.