Primus eyeing more SMB business in 2011

Primus’ Business Services division already considers themselves to be an IT solution provider. And, in the past few years they have taken steps to make sure the market place views them as a solution provider.

For example, Primus has virtually eliminated all reseller agency contracts and has broadened its focus on delivering VoIP and data centre solutions in Canada. The days of Primus being a long-distance alternative to consumers are clearly gone. Primus Canada is part of a billion dollar global company with offices in the U.S., South America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and in Canada since 1994. They currently have more than 60,000 customers which are split into two areas: residential and commercial. This is where Primus Canada Business Services come in.

This unit of Primus Canada continues to evolve its solutions portfolio towards managed services. Between the year’s 2006 and 2010 Primus Canada introduced hosted PBX, IP telephony and a cloud computing offering called Virtual Managed Machines or VMM.

Caterina Didio-Duggan, director of marketing services for Primus Telecommunications Canada Inc. of Toronto, said key advantage of Primus Canada is the network, which has a fully redundant backbone, extensive fibre, ATM, it’s connected to more than 29 countries but passes over 80 per cent of countries in the world.

“We are always concerned about voice and data traffic and have built a network that can take various paths service,” she said.

Didio-Duggan added that Primus Canada’s services division is taking an approach whereby they will hand hold SMB customers.

Every SMB solution delivered will be fully managed, according to Didio-Duggan. What Primus Canada is looking to do is minimize the number of hardware components at a customer location and run everything from Primus’s data centre in downtown Toronto (or one of its seven other data centres in Canada). “From a resource perspective customers do not have to have technical expertise on hand. We give you minimal IT on hand. We basically provide everything on one single price,” she said.

Didio-Duggan is currently on a mission to educate the market that Primus Canada has put its long distance history in the background and is moving to becoming a solution provider for the SMB.

“We are small business focused and customers that make changes; we can do it on demand. Need to add another CPU it can be done within minutes,” she said.

Another approach is to offer the customer a system whereby it can be for 30 seats today but has the capacity for 200. It’s called capacity planning and is meant to accommodate customer who are growing their business quickly.

Currently, Primus managed services offers firewall, unified threat management, and server patching for security. Another differentiator is that Primus managed services uses disk for back up instead of tape. This enables Primus to capture customer changes from the last back up increasing speed. “What happens when the data crashes? With our services you can get the last back up. It is determined by how often it is backed up. You can go every 30 minutes and extend it any way you want,” Didio-Duggan said.

The agency program with the channel is gone. The only channel left at Primus is with IT consultants. Ingram Micro Canada and Tech Data Canada services Primus Canada equipment needs and they also have direct to reseller relationships with Cisco Systems Canada and Juniper Canada.

Didio-Duggan said that SMB customers should focus on the core business and not have to worry about IT. “For one person to be on top of all the new technology and security threats is impossible. Take it off your plate and focus on what you have to focus on. SMB over the last little while are looking at technology in a new way and saying ‘no” to new implementations. They see the value but it’s too costly. We allow them to get into that game.”

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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