IN THE HOT SEAT: Calling for channel expansion

IN THE HOT SEAT: Calling for channel expansion

Ask Zultys' Oceania business development director, Tony Warhurst, what he is most proud of in his role and he will probably tell you about channel growth.

In the last year he's brought on Anixter and ChannelWorx as distribution partners for the IP communications hardware vendor, and seen reseller numbers almost double.

Now he's looking to open up the market and help partners score deals in thousands of seats covering the enterprise space.

What's your background with Zultys?
Tony Warhurst (TW):
I started as director of business development for Oceania when Zultys opened its offices in Australia in May 2003. I was responsible for building up and managing a network of resellers. Before that I was with a company called Matrium for about seven years. They did testing and measurement equipment for networks and PABXs. I've been able to see how carriers and the data side of things have grown and how voice is becoming a major player.

Where do you see Zultys playing in the market?
We can scale from five to 10,000 users by clustering four of our MX250 [IP telephony system] units to get 1000 users. From there, we can then group up 32 sites together.

We also work on a diverse architecture so if a site goes down the company doesn't lose its whole network. There is no extra hardware needed to scale the boxes up - it's software licenses which turn on extra functionality.

What is Zultys doing on the application side of VoIP? Do your handsets run applications? TW: Not at this stage, because that is why you have a PC. Why would you want to run an application on a tiny phone screen? We prefer to keep the handsets as natural as possible because for 80 per cent of users, a phone is just a phone. We offer a lot of functionality in the handsets but keep it simple for end-users. However, we have tested with four or five SIP-based application providers for a video conferencing package. We are based on open standards so the customer can chose which product they want and plug it in.

Do you partner with anyone for carriage services?
We have introduced our partners to BDMs within carriers such as engin, vCall, Soul-Patterson Telecommunications and OZtel, so they have a point of contact to get pricing and deals for end-users on carriage. It has been very successful because they have choice.

What is the value for a reseller in partnering with Zultys?
We have a two-tier channel with Anixter and ChannelWorx. Both are doing a great job. Outside of them the value for a partner is that we don't have an oversubscription of resellers, and we have free technical and sales training plus good demos and internal pricing.

The systems are also quite easy to manage as they are just one box, so a reseller can do a reasonable size installation in an hour and spend the rest of the day training the customers on how to use it.

Is it hard to manage the requirements of telco partners versus data partners?
Both sides are embracing VoIP. The data guys seem to be able to communicate the message better. But some traditional PABX guys have hit the ground pretty well and are starting to see that it is not a matter of if, but when. They are adding the IP-PABX into their stack so they can go out and talk about it instead of losing opportunities.

There seems to be a lot of players in VoIP now. Is the market headed for a price war?
I don't think there will be a price war but a functionality war. People are looking for better functionality and services from their phone systems.

For example, when you get a call, you could get a screen pop from your CRM system. Where the price war may come in is on the IP carrier side. They will start to offer a special rate to a certain destination at a particular time of day and people will put their traffic through that.

IP carriers now bring choice for end-users as you can subscribe to four or five, and depending on where you want to call to, just route the end-IP address through them depending on what deals they have going. Previously with carriers you were locked in with a contract.

Is consumer VoIP a real play yet?
I think a big driver for the wider market is companies such as vCall, engin and Skype hitting the residential market space. The MD or director of a company has dabbled at home with it, finds it's not as daunting as they thought, and then looks to get it into the business.

So what is your dream job?
I'm pretty happy where I am, but if things keep going well here, who knows. I've been in IT so long I've never imagined doing anything else. I actually love the challenge of it - introducing Zultys into Australia, building a channel and getting the brand name out there. I don't like to be bored, doing the same thing every day, but this is exciting Although I could imagine myself surfing on a desert island beach.

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