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Would you buy a car from a dealership where none of the salesmen knew how to drive? Or order prime rib at a restaurant where the chef was a strict vegetarian? What about when it comes to your customer’s network? Are you willing to risk installing products that you don’t have firsthand experience with? I’m guessing the answer is “no.”

When making purchases, big or small, customers want to have confidence that the company they partner with has in-depth knowledge and can stand behind the products they sell. Consider Amy Smith, Director of Collaboration at Nexus IS and a Cisco Gold Certified Partner. She’s committed to live by her company’s marketing motto: “Know it, use it, sell it.”

This was the case when Nexus IS decided to add Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) — an offering that allows partners to provide a wide range of Cisco collaboration applications to their customers as a subscriber-based service—to its portfolio. Their first step was to go the wholesale route and participate in Neutral Tandem’s proof-of-concept trial. This was an easy decision, since Nexus IS always tests new products on its own network before installing them on a customer’s network. It’s all about fully understanding, embracing, and discovering best practices of a product before offering it for sale.

Think HCS would be a great addition to your list of offerings?
Learn about Nexus IS’ trial experience and why the timing is right for the HCS market.

Channels Blog: Tell us about your partnership with Neutral Tandem.
Amy Smith: We started the conversation with Neutral Tandem about HCS about 18 months ago. There’s a huge pricetag involved with starting our own HCS offering, so we decided to move down the wholesaler path and participated in their proof-of-concept trial in October 2011. Overall, we’re pleasantly surprised by how well the trial went.

CB: Why HCS now?
AS: The culture is finally accepting an HCS type of deployment and demanding it because of what’s going on in the workforce and the economy. Ten years ago, if you mentioned having anything in the cloud, people would shy away because they wanted everything locked down in their network. Now, there’s a shift of people not wanting complete ownership of applications; they just want it taken care of. The timing is right for the HCS market now.

CB: What are some customer concerns about HCS and have you worked with any customers yet?
AS: We’re talking to a few customers and they’re feeling out the solution. Common concerns are:

CB: What are some common customer scenarios that HCS can provide as a potential solution?
AS: Some customers are still on Cisco Unified CallManager Version 4.0 and not utilizing the full power of the system. They haven’t been doing regular upgrades, because there are professional services and hardware costs associated with upgrades. By putting everything into the cloud, customers no longer have to worry about corrupt code or hardware end-of-life/end-of-sale. Everything is taken care of for the customer and they have access to the latest software without having to go through an upgrade.

Small business customers also benefit from HCS, because they can get the latest software without having to go through an overhead of IT staff. There are little to no resources needed on the customer side.

CB: Can you tell us about the evolution of UC solutions and where you think we’re headed?
AS: People are more comfortable with the cloud idea and the culture is more accepting of it now. But is it for everybody? No. Does it make sense for a large majority of our customers? More than likely.

Customers who are looking at HCS now are large enterprises looking to do a migration, or may need some sort of integration with legacy systems, and this is an easy way for them to do that. It may also be that they have downsized IT departments, or they don’t have an IT staff, and don’t want their current staff to support the system.

CB: When will Nexus IS’ HCS offering be available?
AS: During Q1 2012

CB: Do you have any additional advice?
AS: For partners, discern if HCS is the right thing for your customer’s organization. Don’t be intimidated by collaboration. This is another path that opens you up to a whole new realm of customers.

For customers, whether you want to fully take care of this solution on-premise yourself or have Nexus IS managed services assist you on-premises, or put it in a cloud, Nexus IS managed services can help with either option.

I learned a lot from Amy during our chat. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post later this week, where Neutral Tandem will share their wholesale model. You’ll find out what you can expect when working with them—and how you can increase revenue opportunities.

Have you noticed the demand shift from on-premise to hosted? If so, is HCS right for your customers? Share your thoughts below.

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