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Unify Grows the Channel to Help Move Its UC Products

The company, which gets more than half of its product revenue from channel sales, offers new tools and programs to make partners' work easier.

channel partners

Unify is aggressively expanding its channel efforts as it looks to gain ground in the unified communications space.

At the company's annual partner conference this week, Unify officials announced efforts to make the process of onboarding new partners easier and to enable those companies to start selling Unify products more quickly.

In addition, the company has added specializations to its partner program; made its OpenScape portfolio for large enterprise available through distribution, enabling partners to get access to the products more quickly and cheaply; and introduced new tools partners can use.

It's part of a strategy to rely on the growing roster of channel partners to get its products—including OpenScape and Circuit browser-based unified communications (UC) platform—quickly into the hands of end users.

The moves come as Unify looks to compete in a rapidly changing global UC market currently dominated by Cisco Systems and Microsoft. There is growing demand for cloud- and software-based UC offerings, and there has been a lot of movement as vendors jockey for position in a crowded field. Most recently, Mitel announced it is buying Polycom for $1.96 billion. Other moves include Nokia buying Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion, Lifesize spinning out of Logitech, Avaya buying Ensa and earlier this year introducing the Zang cloud-based platform, and ShoreTel building out its Connect platform, which offers a common code for its on-premises and cloud-based offerings.

Unify has undergone its own share of changes in recent years. In 2013, the company formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications changed its name and a year later unveiled Circuit, which had been known as "Project Ansible." IT vendor Atos bought Unify earlier this year for $371 million and kept the Unify brand. In February, Jon Prichard was introduced as Unify's CEO, another indication of the company's focus on the channel—Pritchard had been executive vice president of Channels before being tapped for the top slot.

According to Unify officials, more than half of the company's product revenue comes through the channel and Unify has more than doubled the size of its partner base, to more than 2,000 in more than 50 countries. It also has 13 new distribution partners.