M5 Offers Partners Voice As A Service

M5 Offers Partners Voice As A Service

VARs that have struggled with whether to offer on-premise or hosted VoIP solutions now have another potential solution in their utility belts: Voice as a Service (VaaS).

M5 Networks, a New York-based voice service provider, has announced its National Partners Program, designed to give solution providers the option of offering their clients in-house voice systems or offer VaaS. VaaS essentially offers phone system capabilities as an on-demand, managed service over an IP network optimized for voice.

According to Jeff Silbert, M5's vice present of channel and alliances, the eight-year-old company's VaaS solution is built upon three major components: active service management, or proactive, transparent service from deployment through ongoing management and maintenance; embedded continuity, or baked-in business continuity that goes beyond just redundancy; and on-demand solutions, which offer actionable business breakthroughs for marketing, call center, staffing and client service functions.

The launch of the National Partners Program gives solution providers a VaaS option, Silbert said. So far, M5 has announced two inaugural partners: All Covered, a Redwood City, Calif.-based solution provider focusing on small businesses; and Single Path, a Chicago-based solution provider for SMBs.

Matt Briggs, vice president of sales for Single Path, said the addition of VaaS from M5 rounds out his ability to offer different voice paths, depending on a customer's need. Single Path has conducted more than 700 IP communications deployments and is a regional market leader in unified communications solutions from San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems (NSDQ:CSCO) Inc.

"Voice as a service is complimentary to the Cisco Unified Communications business we've built over the years," Briggs said. "M5 has a heavy emphasis on application rich solutions. This is more of a unified communications offering than a basic hosted VoIP solution. It coordinates well with how we go to market with Cisco's Unified Communications portfolio."

Briggs said the ability to offer an alternative to an on-site voice solution is a natural progression of Single Path's offerings.

"We can solve real issues in applications in small- or mid-sized businesses where a Cisco Call Manger may not work for one reason or another," he said, adding that M5 comes in at an attractive price point for clients looking for a VoIP offering without having to upgrade their entire network infrastructure. "We really like the applications and we really consider [M5] a unified communications player instead of just a VoIP player."

Briggs noted that customers have become more aware of Voice as a Service. Reselling that service will open up a new window of profitability for Single Path. Briggs said the company will still see profit margins on equipment such as routers, switches, firewalls and IP phones. Plus, professional services like installation, implementation and management will boost profitability, while Single Path will also see residual monthly commissions from M5.

"There's definitely an increasing trend of Voice as a Service or voice as a managed service," Briggs said, adding that about 60 percent of Single Path's voice business is premise-based while the remaining 40 percent is Voice as a Service.

Silbert said partners will benefit by gaining a competitive advantage as well.

"Either they offer voice to their clients, or someone else does," he said. "This expands the number of opportunities they can go after."

Briggs agreed.

"Partnership is a term used loosely in our industry, but we consider M5 a true partner that is committed to forming a long-lasting relationship," he said. "By offering both M5's Voice as a Service and Cisco's Unified Communications suite of products and services, we are able to have the best of both worlds, meeting any client's communication needs."