MHA claims unique Lync offering
A first to market, perhaps, but probably not the lastBy Simon Eskow, Auckland | Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Managed services provider MHA Cloud Computing is trumpeting itself as the first organisation of its kind to offer Lync in the cloud with external calling in New Zealand.
Company channel manager Dan Ballard says this and the fact that all of its hosted services are provided locally through datacentre service provider ICONZ, distinguishes itself in the local market place.
“Our pitch is that we are your cloud computing partner,” says Ballard. “Resellers’ customers are going to move to the cloud, whether they like it or not. They can partner with MHA to provide those services to the customer and make money along the way. It is a white label product.”
Ballard was hired by MHA in April to build up the company’s reseller channel, which at the time represented 15-20 core customers. The channel manager has been hosting regular webinars and recently announced a promotional contest in conjunction with distributor Datastor.
While Microsoft was unable to confirm MHA’s “first-to-market” claim, it does see the company as a leader in the region.
“We’re excited at MHA’s entrepreneurial approach and see them as a strong innovator in the growing market for Lync services,” says Steve Hornblow, Microsoft’s cloud lead in New Zealand.
Hornblow says that Microsoft is “working with a range of partners taking various Lync-based services to market, whom are at different stages in terms of their product lifestyle”, so it is possible that the competition in this space to provide white-label Lync services in the cloud will heat up soon.
Ballard is confident in MHA’s current poll position, even in light of the June 29 rollout of Microsoft 365, which, at least theoretically, could offer MHA a run for its money down the line.
“Microsoft 365 is currently not a challenge to MHA’s hosted Lync services, because MHA are the New Zealand hosted Lync providers with External calling,” Ballard claims. “The reason for this is that Microsoft 365 servers are based in Singapore and the latency that would be experienced if Microsoft attempted to provide this service from there would make the service unusable,” he claims. So if an organisation in New Zealand currently wants Hosted Lync with external calling, MHA are the only option currently – as far as I am aware.”
In addition to locally-hosted services, MHA also includes telephone numbers in Australia and the US so that companies calling from there can join teleconferences at local rates, a feature that is built into the hosted service.
Ballard says there has been a lot of interest in MHA’s product, including some RFPs, but not as much business as the company had hoped.
To that end, MHA is co-sponsoring a contest with Datastor inviting end users and resellers in New Zealand to create a video illustrating how “rubbish” their phone system is, and post it to MHA’s Facebook page. The video that gets the most “likes” by 9 am on August 10, 2011, will win 10 Polycom Lync Phones with 20 hosted Microsoft Lync setups.
While MHA has exerted some effort to build its reseller channel, the company still does some business directly with end users.
“The model we work with is to take this product to IT companies so they can resell to their end users,” says Ballard. “We have direct customers, but that is probably out of need because IT companies have been slow to see the opportunity of cloud computing and a lot of them are stuck with the old way of having to have a server onsite.”
“For the small IT companies, they can’t see how they’re going to make money out of it. So they might be more resistant to the cloud than the larger companies. Larger companies get it. So we partner with a number of reasonable size IT companies that do resell our product and they see opportunity.”
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