Wholesale Message Management
Services Target eMail Morass
By Tara Seals
Like an idyllic small town that has been “discovered” by the masses, e-mail has fallen prey to something akin to urban sprawl. Huge growth in the sector — on the order of a 40 percent expansion per year — has spurred massive spam marketing campaigns, privacy concerns, viral infections and junk-filled mailboxes, according to Gartner Inc., a research and advisory firm that helps more than 10,000 clients understand technology.
As bad as things are for the user, e-mail is becoming an even more horrific nightmare for communications technicians at many companies.
International Data Corp. Ltd. (IDC) estimates the number of e-mail messages sent worldwide will surge from 9.7 billion today to 35 billion by 2005. More than half of all corporate mailboxes are located in North America. As server space is eaten up, networks become slow and unreliable, and management becomes more time-consuming.
Increasingly, outsourcing is an attractive option for companies that want to cut costs and headaches. Resellers can capitalize on this trend when selling to enterprises that have large messaging volumes and to small-to-mid-sized businesses, which do not have many technical resources.
Commtouch Inc., a hosted messaging company, is targeting ISPs, ASPs, data centers, telcos and CLECs to distribute Commtouch’s hosted e-mail solutions: Hosted Exchange 2000 for large businesses and Open-Standards Messaging for smaller companies. In both cases, customers can self-administer the hosted e-mail without training. This makes it easy to handle e-mail without a big back office.
The Commtouch wholesale partner program is designed for these service providers to incorporate messaging into existing offerings for incremental revenue. Jamcracker Inc., for example, is reselling the Commtouch Exchange 2000 solution as part of Jamcracker Enterprise, which integrates Web applications from a variety of ASPs onto one platform. Jamcracker also helps companies access, manage, monitor and support their application suites.
USA.NET’s channel partner program is built on the same premise of incorporating message management into an existing portfolio. The messaging provider says companies reselling its web-based hosted e-mail service increase monthly revenue opportunities and enhance their value proposition by becoming a one-stop shop.
“The USA.NET channel partner program creates predictable, ongoing revenue streams for value-added resellers,” says Ed Dunbar, the company’s executive vice president of business units and marketing. “We expected explosive growth in our channel partner program because of its simple value-proposition: our program enables you to quickly and effortlessly integrate USA.NET’s outsourced messaging solutions into your service offering, increasing customer loyalty and positively impacting the bottom line.”
The message has been received warmly, apparently; the provider has about 70 resellers, and is expanding its program quickly.
One new partner, Boston, Mass.-based technology consulting firm Theikos, decided to resell USA.NET because the service fit with its overall theme of providing tools for streamlining business.
“Theikos wanted to add an enterprise messaging solution to integrate into our ASP suite for clients and partners,” says Jason Masciarelli, Theikos’ vice president of business development. “USA.NET fit exactly into that profile and has already been successfully implemented at two of our key clients benefiting from the hassle-free outsourced messaging solution.”
Targeting resellers is good for the provider, too. The Electric Mail Company Inc. launched a wholesale and commission-based partner program last year with the aim of driving 85 percent of its business through the indirect channel. It completely restructured to the point of eliminating a head of direct sales position. As a result, Iain Black, Electric Mail’s president and CEO, says he expects cash self-sufficiency by the second quarter 2002. One factor is the expertise and market reach of the company’s partners.
“The restructuring and hard work of 2000 is clearly continuing to pay off,” says Black. “Ours is a real business, with real customers and real revenue. While the current market climate is forcing all technology companies to work harder to secure financing, Electric Mail’s opportunities and financial projections are built on a foundation of proven management, industry experience and the continuing explosive growth rates of e-mail communication.”
Extra Features Lend an Edge
Selling outsourced e-mail services clearly has a stable market as a solution to volume issues, but resellers will find these offerings are far from plain vanilla. Providers are rolling out differentiated services to reflect an intricate e-mail landscape that contains concerns such as viruses and spam.
For example, USA.NET’s e-mail client includes tools for e-mail management, such as a junk-mail blocker, vacation reply, forwarding, POP3 access, scheduling, an address book and directory search.
EasyLink Services Corp.’s hosted MailWatch service helps customers deal with the mounds of messages they receive by filtering out offensive material, blocking spam and controlling oversized attachments.
Until recently, viral concerns have been a weak link for nonserver-based e-mail. EasyLink incorporates McAfee’s anti-virus software, and the Electric Mail Company offers “E-mmunity” virus protection that scans all inbound and outbound messages as part of its e-mail package. For an extra fee, USA.NET’s product can include virus scanning.
Similarly, security is a hot issue for these Internet-delivered solutions for obvious reasons. Some mail providers bundle in security features to give their solutions an edge, such as USA.NET, which offers SSL encryption. Sometimes security packages are ancillary to the hosted e-mail offering. 3R Soft Inc., a hosted e-mail provider that targets ASPs and ISPs as a channel, released a beefed up security module for web-based e-mail called MailStudio-Secure this summer. By running MailStudio-Secure on an internal mail server, messages transferred through web-based accounts automatically are encrypted and decrypted in 128 bits and greater.
“In the past, IT decision makers have shied away from providing web-based mail due to security and privacy concerns,” says 3Soft CEO Jeason Yeu. “Enterprise clients now can equip their users to confidently move from computer to computer, access their messages from a secure mail server, and send encrypted or digitally signed messages without any more effort than pressing the ‘Send’ button.”
As bad as things
are for the user, e-mail is becoming an even more