Telstra is set to launch a renewed bid to harness the channel this Friday with a new bundled VPN solution for the burgeoning SME market.
The launch of EasyConnect VPN is designed to coincide with the release of Windows 2000, and is the result of a partnership between Telstra and networking vendor 3Com.
Telstra's convergent business channel marketing and program manager, Rita Arrigo, told ARN selling through the channel was `a very very big trend for us'.
According to Arrigo, the Easy-Connect VPN solution is an exciting opportunity for resellers, and she describes it as `VPN in a box'.
When asked if resellers could expect more products through the channel this year, Arrigo said `absolutely', including a lot more packaged solutions. The next product to be launched is due in the next three to four weeks.
There will be 10 `select business partners' which it is in the process of signing up at the moment and announcing on Friday. Arrigo said these companies would be resellers with experience putting in these types of networks. She said resellers would be able to make margins on the On-Ramp connectivity, Big Pond Direct and the 3Com hardware. `And they also make margin on whatever integration services they sell as well. We've got a very, very strong commitment to the channel.'
She said it had a Web site where resellers could register, a hotline, and training sessions. `It's a very serious investment in the channel.'
EasyConnect VPN is part of an existing line, but Arrigo said it provided the channel with greater opportunity for making money. `The business partner can make a lot more money and we're being stricter about who can sell it.' She said this was because it was more specialised, requiring the reseller to have very strong IP skills. `The partners that have been selected have been selected with that in mind.'
Andy Hurt, 3Com's director of business development for telco partnerships for Asia-Pacific, said it had been working in partnership with Telstra for the last 18 months on packaged solutions for the SME market.
Hurt added the solution was being sold through a targeted `subset' of resellers, because the solution required a greater skillset. `Over the last 12 months we've been recruiting resellers to sell the more commodity-based products.'
Easy Connect VPN is being exclusively distributed by LAN Systems, who will carry out basic configuration. If more specialised configuration is required by the customer, this would be done by the reseller.
Nick Verykios, LAN Systems' marketing director, said this effectively meant it was a complete service for the channel.
LAN Systems will manage the various requirements of the solution, `So the reseller can go out and sell one individual product,' he said.
Verykios believes, from a volume perspective, the SME market is where the business is for the product. `They are the ones that are taking on Internet access very, very quickly.'