3Com Corp. has launched a new voice solution program it says will empower resellers and generate more sales opportunities.

The Voice Over Internet Protocol Solution Provider Program (VSPP) was created in response to end-user needs and market requirements for collaboration with application

developers, according to the company.

The new program, which replaced the 3Com NBX Solution Provider Program, enables 3Com reseller partners to access IP telephony applications across its NBX and recently released VCX V7000 product lines.

“”With the introduction of VCX we needed to revamp the program,”” said Pat Rudolph, 3Com director of solutions architecture, enterprise voice solutions. The beta version of VCX made its debut at last year’s NetWorld+Interop conference.

Gavin Fick, national channel sales manager for 3Com Canada, said VSPP is a real value-add to its offering.

“”It enables our customers to receive a far-higher return-on-investment than simply (selling) our solution.””

VSPP, which uses a two-tier instead of a three-tier system, provides reseller approved status to applicants sponsored by 3Com voice resellers that agree to install, test and provide first-line application support.

“”Resellers can approach 3Com application providers that they need to build sales opportunities,”” said Rudolph.

The company also established a 3Com approved status for select developers, by invitation only, whose products will be installed, tested and approved by 3Com through a more exhaustive test plan than reseller approved partners.

A committee at 3Com chooses partners based on voice portfolio and strategic applications. The old program was divided into three levels: gold, silver and bronze. Rudolph said the gold level partners were not getting the recognition they deserved.

“”There were too many of them,” he said. “It was a resources strain on 3Com’s side.””

For the silver and bronze channel partners, Rudolph said the certification process was taking too long. Since then it has been shortened from three months to a couple of weeks.

“”Rather than have a reseller wait for 3Com to run it through the lab, we’ve empowered the reseller by making the turnaround time for the application developers much shorter,”” explained Rudolph.

The reseller test plan, which varies on whether the partner is a hardware or software provider, ensures interoperability with NBX and VCX.

Rudolph says VSPP is not just about pushing VCX sales.

“”The idea is not just to sell a point product, but to wrap an application around it for a specific vertical market.””

Target vertical markets include finance, real estate, education and, in Canada, health care.

The VCX solution, which is session initiation protocol (SIP) based, was originally designed to operate in carrier networks with geographically dispersed environments and tens of thousands of users, making it ideal for multi-site environments like health care, he said.

Asked how VSPP stacks up to what the competition has to offer in terms of solution provider programs, Fick replied: “”The difference is what type of a program are you offering around that and how are you delivering the message of all the service providers to your customers.””

Fick declined to disclose the margin percentage its resellers are making on sales but said: “”3Com has traditionally been a margin player not only from a value perspective but also from an overall cost-of-ownership perspective.””

Michael Donato, president of Internet Access Solutions Ltd. (IASL), an Ontario-based 3Com gold reseller, said VSPP will bring specialty products to market faster.

“”(VSPP) enhances the product and gives us the tools to solve customer requirements.””

IASL deploys broadband networks in small- and medium-sized businesses and provides specialty solutions to Internet service providers and telecommunications companies, where 3Com’s enhanced products come into play.

“”The big thing about specialty products is being able to solve problems for a unique situation, giving customers increased productivity and helping them be more competitive.””

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