Cogeco Peer 1 addition of Managed Microsoft Azure Services should be major play for growing channel

In the last year, Cogeco Peer 1 has re-embraced the channel in Canada, and sees core offerings like this one as critical to channel growth, which in turn they see as critical for the company.

Jaime Leverton, General Manager, Vice President, Canada and APAC at Cogeco Peer 1

Colocation, connectivity and managed services provider Cogeco Peer 1 has expanded their Azure portfolio with the addition of Managed Microsoft Azure Services to their portfolio. It’s a significant extension of the Azure capabilities of Cogeco Peer 1, the Toronto-based wholly-owned subsidiary of Cogeco which has a global cloud infrastructure. It should also be critical for the company’s developing partner ecosystem.

Cogeco Peer 1 began reselling Microsoft Azure in June 2016, and followed that up in October with the addition of Microsoft’s ExpressRoute service, which provides a direct, private connection with  Microsoft’s data centres that avoids the hazards of the public Internet.  Adding Managed Microsoft Azure Services was a logical next step.

“We are all about hybrid IT and the ability of customers to move workloads wherever they want,” said Jaime Leverton, General Manager, Vice President, Canada and APAC at Cogeco Peer 1. “The partnership with Azure relies on our roots in colo and managed hosting, and it made sense that we would launch managed cloud offerings as a follow-up.”

Managed Microsoft Azure Services adds important new capabilities for a broad range of mutual Cogeco Peer 1-Microsoft customers.

“It gives them additional flexibility, and the ability to customize solutions,” Leverton said. “As we are a  Microsoft Gold Certified partner, we can now provide a full range of solution design/build, migration, management and connectivity services. Each service can also be accessed independently.

“It also cuts a fairly broad swath as for as the kind and size of customers go,” Leverton added. “It really depends on the customer and the workload. Because the ongoing management of Azure is on a consumption basis, the fees flex according to usage, which gives customers the efficiency to unlock the full potential of Azure and their cloud investment.”

Cogeco Peer 1 is neither a first mover nor a laggard in terms of adopting Managed Microsoft Azure Services. They do however see a strong opportunity in the market going forward.

“IDC projects that adoption of managed cloud services globally will triple from 16 per cent of organizations in 2017 to 54 per cent by 2019, led by the U.S.,” Leverton said. “Now Canada is somewhat behind the U.S. in adoption, but that overall threefold increase is very significant.”

All this is good news for Cogeco Peer 1’s nascent channel. The company had been selling direct after the failure of an initial channel initiative some years back. A year ago, however, they decided to make another attempt to become a significant channel player. It’s a key reason that Leverton, whose strong channel resume includes stints at BlackBerry and Bell Canada, was appointed to her role, as Cogeco Peer 1 wanted to develop their indirect channels.

“I started in May [2017] and the partner program launched in my third week,” Leverton said. “The decision to develop a channel was made before I was hired, as there was a strong focus on the channel during the interview process as a necessary vehicle to invest in.”

The multi-faceted channel program has separate components for referral, reseller, and wholesale sales, and while the partner base was starting from scratch, Leverton said that they have attracted a good cadre of partners who have been performing well.

“The expansion of offerings really helps,” she stated. “When the original channel program existed many years ago it was narrower. We are also able to attract a new type of partner, who isn’t just taking us as a SKU and adding it to their rate card. We have also been very supportive, and are taking a very collaborative approach to the channel. Both I and my team are more then willing to go on sales calls with them.”

Managed Microsoft Azure Services will expand that range of offerings further.

“This is a very complementary product for partners,” Leverton said. “As we invest in the channel and look to use it to drive new markets, the more offerings that allow them to deliver the most fulsome solutions to their customers, the better.”

That investment will remain critical to Cogeco Peer 1 going forward.

“If you are looking to drive double-digit growth, or even high single digit growth in our business, I believe that the channel has to be part of it,” Leverton said. “It’s the only way to scale and grow.”