N-able connects with Mitel on managed VoIP

Derik Belair N-able

N-able marketing and business development VP Derik Belair

It may have taken N-able Technologies a while to get into the managed voice over IP game, but it didn’t have to go far to do it.

The Ottawa-based remote management and monitoring company has announced a partnership with its neighbour, Mitel, to support remote monitoring of Mitel Communications Director with N-able’s N-central monitoring software.

“We’ve been in business for about 10 years now, and for the better part of that, Mitel has literally been across the parking lot from us,” said Derik Belair, vice president of marketing and business development at N-able. “It’s taken us a while, but a lot of our MSP partners are diving much deeper into the convergence/VoIP space.”

Although the company has a partnership with networking giant Cisco Systems, Belair classified the Mitel agreement as the company’s first voice-centric partnership. It comes at a time when many MSPs are being asked to add remote monitoring of VoIP to their services lineup. At the company’s Partner Summit in Phoenix last month, an informal poll showed that 25 per cent of N-able partner base currently offers VoIP-related managed services, and an additional 25 per cent are looking at getting into the space. It’s not a surprising development to Belair.

“VoIP is making significant headway in SMB, and our MSPs are keen to take advantage of that opportunity,” he said. “They see it as a natural extension of their network MSP practice. Anything that is IP network-enabled is part of it.”

Getting integration with Mitel is a free download from N-able’s partner resource center for users of the N-central platform. Belair said the company was adding support for Mitel as an interoperability point instead of adding a VoIP module to N-central.

While adding voice capabilities to an MSP practice is certainly a hot space, Belair cautioned that as ever, “there’s no silver bullet” when it comes to managed services, and that each MSP must map out what their own offerings look like and should look like in the future, as well as what partners they’re going to need to get there. But for those looking to add hosted voice to their services mix, Belair endorses his new partner’s efforts. “Mitel is actively seeking MSPs and they’re keen to build programs for them,” he said.

The partnership with Mitel runs back about six months behind the scenes, Belair said, and the interoperability announced Tuesday is phase one of N-able’s VoIP strategy – a “walk before we run sort of scenario,” as Belair describes it.

While N-able is focused on helping its existing MSPs get into the VOIP game, Belair said he sees a “huge opportunity for us” in getting existing VOIP-centric solution providers into the managed services game, expanding the company’s base of partners.

“As much as we see MSPs being looked upon to take over management of VOIP, certainly, the VOIP community is seeing the network as something they need to be controlling,” he said. “The Mitel channel is a very well-educated, very strong channel that has a lot of interest in expanding their offerings on the network side. The opportunity is just as great on both sides.”

To get some of those traditional VOIP partners signed up, N-able is running a promo that offers Mitel VARs a free one year “starter package” that includes 10 seats of N-central Professional, 10 licenses of N-central Essentials, and 20 licenses of the company’s Endpoint Security offering.

Belair said the Mitel deal is just the beginning – partners should expect to see the company forging more VOIP-related partnerships with “channel-friendly” vendors in the weeks to come. He added that N-able is also looking to build out its support for another area where MSPs are seeing significant customer push – the managed print arena. Belair said N-able currently has “a base level of integration” with companies like Xerox and Lexmark, but that in 2011, it will look to take those connections to the next level.

“We want to take a much more proactive role in not just basic interoperability but in matchmaking for those interested in penetrating these markets,” he said.