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PanTerra Networks, known for its unified communications focus, has launched a collaboration platform that aims to replace mid-market enterprises’ disparate file-sharing and conferencing systems.
In other words, PanTerra has Dropbox, Box, WebEx, Citrix, AT&T and other suppliers in its sights with the Jan 21. release of SmartBox. And it aims to grab market share with the help of its partner channel.
“Dealing with multiple cloud services vendors is a real challenge,” said PanTerra CEO Arthur Chang.
One company may offer around-the-clock support, for example, while another hosts message board chats. Plus, users often have to re-enter login information to access each separate system.
“Everyone just wants IT services to deliver easily,” Chang said.
To that point, PanTerra created SmartBox, a file/store/synch/share product with built-in unified communications services, including video, fax, recording, email, IM and chat. It replaces FTP and VPN, according to PanTerra. Enterprises may add hosted PBX capabilities if they like, but it’s not required. They also can opt just to buy the file/synch/share functionality think of it as Skype meets Box, said Chang.
SmartBox allows users to share individual folders, no matter the level, independently. Most cloud services don’t facilitate that, Chang said. In addition, SmartBox lets users see who they shared content with, view those peoples’ presence status and initiate phone, video, conference or IM activity with a click, and even share a voice mail outside of the company, said Chang. There is no need to re-enter email or contact information throughout that process.
Along the way, PanTerra has installed security protections. Those include passwords and share times that expire after a specific number of days, months or years. There’s also mandatory two-phase authentication for all accesses. In other words, a user doesn’t simply log in, there’s also device authentication.
“If somebody were to steal log-in credentials, they could not access content unless through the authenticated device,” said Chang.
If that were to happen, IT departments would have tools to address the problem. That’s because SmartBox comes with remote management. So, if a smartphone or tablet is stolen or lost, an enterprise’s IT department can remote-block the device, lock it down, or wipe local cache content.
SmartBox, with the inclusion of the hosted PBX, runs in the $30-$40 range per user. The price increases to the $60-$70 range with a call center platform. For partners, that translates into lifetime recurring revenue, not the one-time up-front that’s typical with file-sharing sales.
“Channel is primary for us,” Chang said.
Partners further may sell add-ons such as minutes and DID numbers, which they can’t do with standard file/synch/share products, said Chang.
“Storage is going to just about zero dollars, so the partner gets more programs and features to upsell to the existing customer base.”
PanTerra does have a direct freemium model for SmartBox, but that will work as more of a lead-generation source.
“We have developed special links so when the sign-up button is pressed, the partner code is embedded in that account so the partner gets credit when the user upgrades,” Chang said.
Recurring revenue percentages vary based on performance; Chang said they fall between 10 and 20 percent. There are no quotas but PanTerra decides payment percentages based on a partner’s sales in certain time period, such as the past six months or year.