Cytracom has named Jim Hamilton its new channel chief.
The move comes a year after the introduction of ControlOne, an all-in-one platform equipped with SD-WAN, web content filtering, intrusion prevention, and other tools designed to help MSPs link offices and remote workers safely, centrally, and simply. That product, in turn, is part of an ongoing effort by Cytracom to transform itself from a unified communications software maker into a networking and security vendor as well.
Hamilton, whose official title is vice president of channel, will oversee a planned expansion of Cytracom’s partner program aimed at teaching channel pros already well versed in UCaaS how to market the vendor’s unconventional secure networking product as well.
“If you look at ControlOne, it’s an emerging technology in a space that’s really unfamiliar with the capabilities that we offer,” says Zane Conkle, Cytracom’s CEO. “Helping engage the community and bringing them up to speed on what we’re doing, I think, is key.”
More specifically, adds Cytracom COO John Tippett, partners need guidance on offering ControlOne as an integrated, subscription-priced accompaniment to the company’s voice offering, rather than as a stand-alone alternative to traditional firewall and VPN systems.
“It’s a totally different concept,” he says. “We need people to see and understand that there’s a different way to sell it.”
In pursuit of that mission, Hamilton will soon begin introducing new sales-focused enablement resources, launching new advisory councils, and rolling out an expanded series of in-person and virtual events. The goal, beyond training partners to sell and support ControlOne, is to provide Cytracom’s executives and product managers regular feedback on the company’s unfolding product strategy from the more than 4,000 MSPs in its channel.
“We have a lot of partners,” Tippett says. “We want to make sure we stay connected.”
A 30-year channel veteran, Hamilton was formerly vice president of member communities at tech industry association CompTIA and executive director of MSP partners at RMM software pioneer Level Platforms.
“The idea with Jim coming in is to ensure that we have and we maintain a connection into our partner base, and that aligns to his strengths,” says Tippett. “He’s led communities. He’s worked with volunteers. He’s had to keep people feeling like their voice is being heard.”
Hamilton will also be responsible for forging alliance agreements with other providers of software and services for managed service providers, much like the pact with managed security service provider BLOKWORX that Cytracom announced last May.
“ControlOne is going to much more tightly integrate with the tools that MSPs are using and deploying on their customers’ networks today, and you’ll see that in the coming months,” Conkle explains. An integration with Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory due shortly, Tippett adds, will be an early example.
ControlOne is a core element in Cytracom’s ambitious plans to fuse communications, networking, and security into a seamless whole better suited than conventional offerings to cloud-first businesses with hybrid workforces.
SMB networks have changed little in 20 years, says Conkle. “They’re still location-centric, while at the same time businesses today are anything but.”
Hosted on a dedicated backplane and private data centers, adds Tippett, ControlOne keeps roaming workers securely and continuously connected whether they’re at home, in the office, or on the road. “There’s no connect and disconnect,” he says. “Wherever you go, your device is on the corporate LAN all the time.”
The same principle applies to every desktop, laptop, phone, and tablet those workers use, Tippett notes. “If you log out of this device and log on a different device, your permissions, credentials, and security follow you.”
When used in tandem with Cytracom’s voice platform, he continues, ControlOne simplifies life for channel pros as well by streamlining VoIP implementation and optimization, two otherwise labor-intensive chores. “When you deploy the phones into the network, we automatically detect them, we automatically prioritize them, and we automatically route the traffic,” Tippett observes.
According to Conkle, nothing else suitable for SMB end users offers the same functionality. “There are solutions, but they’re out of reach for MSPs,” he says. “A lot of them have 200, 300 seat minimums and they’re very, very complicated.”
A comparable architecture that channel pros can afford, Conkle adds, typically involves a combination of firewall, VPN, and other solutions from multiple companies. “On average we’re seeing our partners displace four to six vendors when they leverage ControlOne,” he says.
Though both products will remain available separately, Cytracom plans to gradually blur the lines between ControlOne and its voice platform. “The functionality of the products on the backend are going to converge,” Tippett says.
That change will arrive in stages over the course of the year. “We have a handful of major releases that you’re going to see in the coming months on both sides,” Conkle says.
ControlOne earned Cytracom a place among the winners of ChannelPro‘s All-Star awards for 2022.