The channel of value-added resellers, systems integrators and other third-party sales reps is playing a significant role in the sales of cloud services for CenturyLink Cloud, so much so that the service provider is rolling out new functionality and tools to help its channel partners customize their own offerings.
This week, CenturyLink announced open source tools for estimating cloud costs, but that is just the latest in a series of functionalities that the company will announce in the coming months for its cloud alliance partners, says Jared Wray, CTO of CenturyLink Cloud.
"We have a massive channel for our cloud services and we've been one of the leaders in enabling our partners but we want to do more," he says.
You can see how the cost estimation tool works here.
By making cost estimation for cloud services an open source tool, CenturyLink not only enables its channel sales partners to quickly and easily estimate costs for their customers and close deals more quickly, but also lets them adapt the tool to their own purposes.
"The whole idea of enabling this for them is to give them a tool they can use for themselves, so they can take the technology we open source and give it to their customers, and change it, manipulate it for their customers," Wray says. "It is very powerful -- they can skin it, change the pricing, or rebrand it."
The channel partners can choose to share their changes as part of the open source process, but it's their choice whether to do that, he adds. "They can fork it if they want to," Wray says. "Or they can contribute what they do back into the user interface to make it better."
Channel partners already white-label the CenturyLink Cloud platform, so being able to offer online pricing estimates lets them more rapidly address their own customer needs, without a back-and-forth process engaging sales reps or others at CenturyLink, Wray points out. CenturyLink also is providing articles on GitHub for its channel partners to use in developing their own versions of cloud offerings.
One of the things that Wray stresses is the importance of working with channel partners to help them not only master the technology issues but also grasp the full range of possibilities and work out issues such as licensing and business models. Some of those models are changing -- recently a channel partner looked to provide software-as-a-service via this approach, he notes.
CenturyLink Cloud doesn't break out revenues on the basis of its channel alliance group and wholesale division worldwide, but Wray says "it is not a small chunk of revenue."
"We are seeing a great mixture of companies in the channel," he comments. "We thought we would see telecom service providers, but we are seeing a huge mixture from VARs to companies like Pier 1 (large managed services provider in Canada). They are co-branding or white-labeling our service and adding their technologies on top, doing solution integration or managed services with that."
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