Masergy is another of those technology-based vendors with a long history, looking to engage with the new channels as they emerge. The customers for its enterprise networking are primarily the global players who can use its managed software-defined network for secure unified comms and managed security.
The partners will therefore tend to be similarly established and skilled, but in this sort of market, there will be new entrants and rising starts that it needs to find.
Steve Harrington, Director of Channel, EMEA at Masergy says: “We only have three product sets, hybrid SD-WAN, voice and security, but we target customers in more than one country or continent, ranging from 6-7 sites to several hundred. We lead with networks which is 80% of our revenue.”
But he is selective about business: "A problem we sometimes face is that we are everyone’s radar, so get automatically get included on buyers’ lists."
So the business is not targeting every potential customer; in EMEA the customer needs to have the IT function of decision-maker based locally, which often seems to be the case even for many US global companies. “Our markets are VARs and integrators, with a resell proposition based around the network; we are also now looking at a reseller proposition for resellers of voice. We have a big global reach with SIPP and UC, where we have a good proposition, not as a value deal, but providing services. We are very much a technology company, with systems built from the ground up, and using our own global backbone.”
The customer gets the same experience wherever in the world they are, and this is rare, he says. The rest of the market has caught up with SD-WAN ideas. “Most people come to us saying they want SD-WAN, but at the end of the conversation, they don’t – they want a hybrid network that is flexible.”
His main competitors are coming from the comms space – the Verizon, AT&T, T-systems etc. the company and indeed Steve Harrington himself come from a comms background, so the core strengths are the technology.
The problems are that most partners don’t know how to sell it, so the model is a ‘sell-with’ using Masergy’s strengths. “Even if the partner also adds value with something, we have to be in front of the customer. It is a real challenge if we are not in there.” He says that partners tend not to mind their involvement, so long as the partner does the billing!
He expects a busy few months to come: “We are just launching edge security, for example. There is a lot of really clever stuff we do, but the problem with intelligent networks is that the customer and partner have to understand it to get the most from it. If we sell with, we can cover this. We do the heavy lifting.”
A lot of the partners may not have customers like this - just one, two or three. Which is why he needs more partners – the end-user numbers are relatively small because of the trans-continental pattern; it means working on just a few opportunities within each partner.
“Partners don’t tell you what they do, so we face the challenge of finding out what the channel actually does.”
“Our biggest partners in the next few years are likely to be people we have never thought of. As an example, we are the first people through the doors for Cisco with their Broadsoft proposition.” The Cisco VAR community is in his sights, since he can offer a full voice services that they have not had before.
Managed security is an interesting area, and the one most likely to work for Masergy in the managed service world with its backbone. “That will be an interesting market for us, in security, probably next year. I predict we might be doing as much security as network in a few years’ time, but it depends on the customers being willing to invest in it.”
In EMEA, there are always new areas to go after, he says, and new channels are providing software-based solutions into customers, and this is where the next wave will come from.