Channel Partners Virtual Conference Highlights

Last week’s Channel Partners Virtual conference included three days packed with informative keynotes, lively panel debates, awards, networking and more.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to host the event virtually instead of in person in Las Vegas. But that didn’t stop it from drawing thousands of attendees who offered enthusiastic engagement throughout.

For the first time, the conference offered keynotes addressing diversity and inclusion in the channel. And the IT-telco channel convergence debate once again proved popular.

In addition, numerous sessions focused on the pandemic, its impact on partners and their customers. Partners also learned about growing opportunities in international markets.

Raj Samani, McAfee‘s chief scientist, provided a glimpse into the future of ransomware, and it’s definitely terrifying.

Unable to participate in the Channel Partners Virtual conference? Or want to relive some of what you saw? We have many of the highlights here.

Click through our gallery below to read about the action.

UCaaS battle

UCaaS Thunderdome

During the UCaaS Thunderdome, Granite Telecommunications, Fuze, Lumen Technologies and CallTower all touted what makes them the better choice for partners and customers.

One issue the panelists debated was the significance of owning your IP versus using someone else’s. Jessica Saracco, Lumen's account director for UC and & C-WIN, said it comes down to the solution that partners pitch to the client.

“It’s absolutely going to depend,” she said. “We can do Webex calling right over the top or we can pair it with our network solutions … to be able to give a broader portfolio of all of our solutions for a client. I have to say it’s really going to depend on what the client’s looking for and how we approach that.”

CenturyLink rebranded its enterprise business as Lumen on Sept. 14.

Here's an in-depth breakdown of the conversation.

SD-WAN battle

SD-WAN Thunderdome

During the SD-WAN Thunderdome, representatives from Fusion Connect, Bigleaf Networks, CBTS and Aryaka Networks battled it out for supremacy.

Aryaka differs from the field thanks to its global, layer 2 private network. And Ron Beer, vice president of Aryaka’s Americas agent channel, said the company has pivoted to serve more than just global customers.

“We now are very competitive in regional products, in products that do not necessarily need global applications, and that has helped us get into a lot of opportunities and get our partners a lot more familiar with what we do,” Beer said.

Here's an in-depth breakdown of that conversation.

International markets

The Next Frontier: Opportunities for Channel Partners to Grow in International Markets

During this On Topic session, Jay McBain, principal analyst at Forrester Research, Craig Patterson, Lumen Technologies' division vice president of indirect channel, and Adam Edwards, Telarus’ CEO, discussed how partners can serve customers, close international deals, and grow in EMEA, LATAM and APAC. CenturyLink sponsored the session.

“When I look at international markets ... it’s $3.6 trillion that businesses and governments of all types and all sizes spent,” McBain said. “If you include consumers, this number goes well over $5 trillion. The opportunity as we go country by country, region by region, and looking at the 26 different technology, services, hardware and software lines, there is actually more opportunity as a percentage outside of the United States-Canada-North American market than there is inside.”

CCaaS during COVID-19

Increasing Client Loyalty with CCaaS Solutions During the COVID-19 Era

During this On Topic session, attendees learned that contact center as a service is critical for organizations to dramatically improve the buying environment for both the end user and employer. The speaker was Mike Wolfington, Intelisys’ director of sales for the Northwest, Northern California and Mountain regions. Intelisys sponsored the session.

“I believe right now, by 2021, with everything going on, 100% of companies are competing almost all or completely on the basis of customer experience,” he said. “The ones that are making it easy are the ones that are going to continue to thrive. It’s that simple.”

Teams GCC

Microsoft Teams GCC High Audio Conferencing

During this On Topic session, CallTower, the Microsoft Gold Partner, addressed how the channel can take advantage of direct routing to deliver a more complete GCC High solution. Microsoft offers a specialized cloud environment called GCC High for agencies and contractors that need to meet Department of Defense-level safeguards.

James Anderson, Channel Futures/Channel Partners news editor, spoke wiith Rubio. The session was sponsored by CallTower.

“The main thing for us is making sure that we provide you a full solution in the GCC High environment, or even in just commercial, so that our customers don’t have to worry about managing different vendors and making sure that things are going to work or not,” Rubio said.

CCaaS profits

How Channel Partners are Driving Profitable Growth with CCaaS

This On Topic session was all about why channel partners should be in the CCaaS business. Speakers included Koray Parmaks, Intermedia’s vice president of customer engagement and contact center; Jeremy Reed, president of Interface Technologies NW;, Jeremy Vignaux, Harbor Networks’ vice president of technology; and Andrew Boone, Intermedia’s technology consultant. Intermedia sponsored the session.

“When you’re rolling out technology, you get one shot at rolling out IT solutions,” Reed said. “And if you roll it out and it’s perceived as broke or half-working, you’re never going to recover from that. The great thing about Intermedia is you have so many tools. You have quality and QoS, and a lot of resources as a whole to refer back to make your deployment successful.”

Operate anywhere

Operate from Anywhere: The Next Evolution of Remote Work

During this On Topic session, three industry experts shared their journeys through the remote work transition, and what they’re doing to create sustainable agility and growth for the future. They are: Meghan Keough, 8x8’s global vice president of product and solutions marketing; Michelle Ragusa-McBain, JS Group’s vice president of global channel and digital strategy; and Jennifer Gallego, Avant’s executive vice president of sales for the West. 8x8 sponsored the session.

“The global market for unified communications is $22 billion,” Keough said. “And that number is growing by double digits — 10.5% every year for the next six years. And it’s predicted that it will reach $36 billion by 2026. That number grew by triple digits in the early stages of COVID-19 in March and April, with partners having great opportunities. Many people had a dramatic increase in business due to video conferencing and contact center solution necessities that they had to purchase and implement to make the situation work.”

WAN optimization

Increased Demand: Are Your Customers’ WANs Optimized for the ‘New Normal’?

During this On Topic session, Tobias Hammon, Aryaka’s sales director for the West, addressed whether customers’ WANs can handle the growing complexity associated with the accelerated move to a multicloud and SaaS-driven world. Aryaka sponsored the session.

“SD-WAN is a very populated field and so there’s a lot of manufacturers,” Hammon said. “Our major differentiator is our core network. The core is cloud friendly and cloud native from the very start, and it’s extremely intelligent. So there’s WAN optimization built in, the software definition techniques also, and so that all is built in and making the global WAN a consumable service product from Aryaka.”

The Post-Pandemic Organization: Reimagined

RingCentral CIO Trevor Schulze sat down with two RingCentral customers who shared how moving communications and collaboration to the cloud has helped them meet the challenges their organizations faced during the pandemic. The customers are PacDental and PM Pediatrics. RingCentral sponsored the On Topic session.

“We were lucky enough to do a RingCentral migration for our corporate office and our billing team,” said Steve Xenos, PM Pediatrics’ CIO. “So when COVID-19 hit, we were capable of sending all of our corporate employees home and our billing team was able to continue to work from home without skipping a beat. We also use RingCentral Call Center, the contact center software, so that immensely helped our ability to be able to comply with all the COVID-19 regulation and all the disruption that took place.”

Huntress Labs

The Missing Piece of Channel Security

During this On Topic session, Huntress Labs’ Jeremy Young introduced master agents and resellers to the Huntress managed breach detection and automated remediation platform. The company has 24,000 SMB customers, more than 1,500 channel partners and 500,000 agents deployed.

“We’ve seen explosive growth in the last few years executing our MSP-focused strategy,” he said. “We’re very well known in the space and have a dedicated following due to being great citizens of the channel community. I’m excited to share that we’re engineering our platform to enable other partners in the channel like resellers and agents to have the same successes that we’ve had in the managed services space as we continue to grow our business as a channel-first company.”

MSP 501

2020 MSP 501 Awards

The MSP 501 Awards, presented by Datto and Ingram Micro, celebrated the best of the best in the MSP community. The winners have proven business models, long-term strategies and excellence in operational efficiencies. This year's MSP 501 features a new methodology and a new Hot 101 list dedicated to growing and evolving partners that are building out their recurring revenue streams.

Digi Awards

Excellence in Digital Service Awards

The Excellence in Digital Service Awards, sponsored this year by Ribbon Communications, recognize specific achievements across 10 categories, plus one very special award for particularly outstanding digital transformation brilliance. The Digi Master Award went to Iuvo Technologies.

Other winners were:

  • Brand Builder Award — Nero Technology Consulting Services
  • Cloud Builder Award — iuvo Technologies
  • Consultant of the Year — IGNW
  • Digital Docent — TnT Solutions
  • Master of Disaster Award — Phoenix NAP
  • Next-Gen Telecom Award — Net7 Solutions
  • Purveyor of Productivity — Subsidium Technologies
  • Visionary Award — Powernet
  • Walk the Talk Award — Infinit Consulting
  • White Hat Award — Pine Cove Consulting

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