Toshiba Steps Up VoIP Offerings to VARs

Backed by a new product introduction and three fresh SIP trunking service agreements, Toshiba puts heft behind its strategy of pushing VARs to sell more VoIP to SMB, mid-market and large enterprise customers.

August 28, 2008

D.H. Kass

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Backed by a new product introduction and three fresh SIP trunking service agreements, the Telecommunications Systems Division (TSD) of Toshiba America Information Systems is putting substantial heft behind its strategy to urge its VARs to sell more VoIP to SMB, mid-market and large enterprise customers.

In recent weeks, Toshiba has brought out the Strata CIX1200, a VoIP system that nearly doubled the capacity of its earlier models, and inked SIP trunking service and interoperability deals with Paetec Holding Inc., Iptimize Inc. and heavy-hitter AT&T for its IP Flexible Reach. Toshiba also bolstered its pre-sales support for channel partners. Taken together, those moves not only give Toshiba the coveted position of “one-stop shopping” vendor for VoIP systems, but also extend to channel partners a flexible offering aimed at a wider assortment of customers.

That’s all part of the vendor’s grand design to encourage its network of 350 channel partners to sell more VoIP to business customers, said Jon Nelson, product marketing manager, Toshiba TSD. “Our strategy is to provide communications solutions that are as flexible as possible and have a wider appeal in the market than similar, competing products,” Nelson said. “The idea is to make Toshiba systems easier for our channel to sell."

Nelson pointed to Toshiba’s new CIX1200 as an example of the vendor’s intention to provide flexible solutions to VARs to drive the market. “We believe that much of the demand for VoIP comes from the additional functionality that can be gained by using VoIP technology,” he said. Nelson added that Toshiba’s customers “consistently request that we provide a cost-effective migration path to upgrade to newer products, which is why our systems accommodate connection of digital telephones.”

Nelson noted that Toshiba’s Strata CIX systems are presented as IP systems, and the “channel typically leads with IP in their sales strategy.” Toshiba wants its channel partners to stress to customers the flexibility of Toshiba’s systems, as with the CIX Strata, in that it can be TDM-enabled to support digital telephones. “We want to make sure the channel tells customers that they can use digital telephones for some of their local users and offload some of the unnecessary voice traffic from the LAN.”

According to one prominent Toshiba solutions provider, the vendor’s channel strategy to provide more flexible systems can make a difference. “When we are up against other products, Toshiba is more flexible,” said John Taylor, president of Comworx Inc., a Las Vegas-based provider of business communications solutions and services. “If we don’t want to lead with a more expensive IP handset, we can go digital at a lower cost to the customer. We see that as a big advantage in selling because we don’t get priced out that way.”

Taylor added that when Toshiba recently moved some of its personnel from technical support into field sales support, it showed that the vendor intended to back its systems with additional pre-sales assistance for channel partners.

Nelson said that the SIP trunking service agreements are key to Toshiba’s VoIP channel strategy because “they not only provide carrier compatibility certification, the system flexibility they offer makes easier for channel partners to sell." The fact that customers can obtain VoIP infrastructure and IP telephony services at one place in a single transaction should help VARs sell more VoIP solutions, he said. “Our channel partners need to meet the increasing demands from their customers who want to use SIP trunking to save money on their monthly leased lines,” he said.

TAGS: services,VoIP,telecommunications,Toshiba,VARs

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