Tech Data Adds Open-Source UC to Product Arsenal

Distributor strikes deal with telephony vendor Fonality to provide VARs with a hosted, unified-communications solutions aimed at the SMB space.

January 14, 2009

Al Senia

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VARs will be able to provide a new open-source, unified communications (UC) solution to the SMB market as a result of an agreement reached between distributor Tech Data Corp. (NASDAQ:TECD) and Fonality, a business phone-systems provider.

Under terms of the deal, Tech Data's telephony specialized business unit (SBU) will begin offering channel partners Fonality's open-source solutions, including its trixbox Pro IP-PBX system that provides  VoIP and unified communications to small and medium businesses.

Monica Cwiklinski, manager of Tech Data's telephony SBU, said the UC solution should appeal to Tech Data's growing number of VARs who sell VoIP technology, as well as the networking VARs looking to play in the IT telephony space.

"VARs are looking for a more user-friendly, flexible, lower-cost telephony solution," Cwiklinski said. "The VAR can purchase this box, install it at the customer site and have the services hosted by Fonality." The appliance can deliver both VoIP and UC capabilities, and Fonality can monitor the solution on behalf of the channel partner. Tech Data isn't involved in providing any hosted services, she added.

In addition to basic voice, messaging and conferencing capabilities for main office, remote locations and telecommuters, the trixbox Pro enables customers to capitalize on more advanced communications capabilities, including Microsoft Outlook and CRM integration, voicemail to e-mail and call center support.

The Hybrid-Hosted model used by Fonality allows the company to provide remote support and management for business customers with the functionality and reliability of a premise-based UC solution through a hosted system that requires little on-site maintenance or support. The vendor can provide management services such as 24x7 systems monitoring, automatic software updates, business continuity support, and comprehensive reporting and tracking tools.  The VAR providing the solution can tap Fonality for whatever support and monitoring is needed if they don't wish to provide it themselves

Cwiklinski noted that Tech Data telephony VARs who sell the solution will not have to gain any specialized authorizations from Tech Data, although they can join Fonality's own reseller program with its own support and services requirements if they choose.

Todd Gronemeyer, director of network product marketing at Tech Data, noted "an increasing interest among VARs for hosted-type services. We are trying to grow our offerings with the market."

In a prepared statement,  John Bazzone, Fonality's vice president, said the company "sees tremendous potential for VoIP and unified communication adoption to continue to grow among SMBs. Our partnership with Tech Data will enable us to engage the channel's leading resellers and expand our presence among small businesses nationwide."

Fonality's open-source phone systems and contact center solutions are used by more than 125,000 customers  in more than 100 countries.

(Al Senia is Managing Editor of ITChannelPlanet.com.)

TAGS: unified communications,VoIP,telephony,hosted services,Tech Data

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