In general in the open source realm, and specifically regarding to subscriptions, the best known and more successful company is (not surprisingly) called Red Hat.
Red Hat has thrilled based on a business model of selling subscriptions for his Linux servers, and they explain very well the value of Red Hat Subscriptions at their corporate website, using a language mostly oriented to final customers.
In a couple of posts, I am interested in putting some light on the benefits of eBox Professional Subscriptions, but from the point of view of the eBox Partners who sell them.
For the sake of this post extension , I will talk only about eBox Professional Subscriptions, as Enterprise Subscriptions offer a different (and extra) value to partners. Then, from our website:
eBox Professional Subscription is intended for use in production environments in small and medium businesses. The subscription comes with a full version of the eBox Platform software and it includes Quality Assured software updates, guaranteed by eBox Technologies.
Furthermore, the Professional Subscription includes access to Virtual CIO that provides alerts on hardware functioning, network events, service availability and Internet connection, as well as weekly/monthly reports on the overall performance of the network and services, inventory on installed and active services and regular security audits on the system.
Quality software updates combined with Virtual CIO imply a couple of very straight forward values for partners:
- Security. The subscribed machines will have QA updates, meaning that eBox Technologies tests the patches and bugfixes internally and release them in its own repository, certifying that they won’t cause any problem. Therefore, the software installed at their customers just works, and it is automatically updated without any hassle for partners.
- Client loyalty. Additionally, partners will have all the diagnosis tools of the Virtual CIO (see above) and the possibility to contract 3rd level support from eBox. Reports and alerts, automatically generated, allow partners both to keep the servers up and justify the service given to customers without extra effort.
A consequence of security and client loyalty is more income with less effort for partners:
- Cash flow & low workload for the partner: Instead of charging a big amount of money per license (Microsoft model), eBox focuses on charging small annual fees to managed clients’ servers, sharing the benefits with the partner with very reduced (or zero) extra workload for them.
eBox certified Partners keep selling their own services for consultancy, deployment and technical support (the latest optionally backed by eBox), but with a complement for increasing security and and client loyalty, in form of eBox Professional Subscriptions.
Tags: VAR channel
Much time has gone since my last post, being the release of eBox Platform 1.4 and our (since yesterday) on-line store two of the latest and most interesting news.
eBox Platform 1.4 release has been a great step forward, more than 20.000 downloads in less than a couple of weeks are a clear evidence of the interest arisen. The huge increase of visits to our websites, partnership and support requests are the outcome.
On the other hand, our on-line store is bundled with the release of 2 new products we have been testing for the last 2 months: eBox backup storage and eBox VoIP cheap calls.
As a consequence, eBox portfolio has growth and gained visibility, we are selling directly to our installed base and to and through our partner network.
First, we are offering directly to eBox’s users:
- Technical support, one-time eBox support and safe migration from 1.2 to 1.4 support.
- Subscription services, such as eBox backup storage, eBox VoIP prepaid credit and eBox Control Center.
- Our first book “eBox for network administrators”! (only in Spanish currently though)
Tech support offered directly to eBox’s installed base is two fold: on the hand, helping SOHO users to solve punctual issues and doubts; on the other hand, assist companies on real-time to migrate from the good 1.2 to the great 1.4.
eBox backup storage is for those SOHO and SMEs which desire to keep their data safe off-site at a low price, and eBox VoIP is for those interested in making abroad and international calls at very cheap rates, from their desktop using a softphone.
eBox Control Center gives the possibility to those companies with a number of deployments (e.g. several branches) the ability to monitor and administer their eBox Platform servers from a simple web interface.
Secondly, we are offering to and through our partners network:
- To our partners: certified training, 3rd level technical support and eBox Control Center subscriptions.
- Through our partners to their clients: eBox backup storage and eBox VoIP credit.
The certified training warranties both the partner and his customers a quality service by a qualified technician. 3rd level technical support brings them eBox developers on when required (issues, complex configurations). eBox Control Center provides our partners with a web easy-to-use and simple tool to monitor and administer their eBox Platform deployments.
eBox backup storage and VoIP credit grants our partners a recurrent revenue, while growing their portfolio within a win-win relation.
Our portfolio will include new SaaS products bundled to eBox Platform, but in the meanwhile we have tailored an offering for every eBox user, whether big or small. Compelling enough?
September 25th, 2009 · No Comments
Being eBox Platform the main product of our company, the title of this post could be just a nice play on words…
However, reading on the open source and business model debate, from Stephen Walli‘s to Mat Assay’s blogs, I believe I got to something interesting around eBox Platform as a platform, despite of (please forgive) the repetition.
From the latter, Mat Assay’s “Product management goes open source”:
[…] We were so busy marketing our vision that we almost missed listening to our users’ vision(s) […]
[…] open-source companies, if they listen to their users, are well-positioned to build platforms that can become the lifeblood of enterprise IT […]
If you ask me which is the eBox’s vision, I would speak about our perspective instead: eBox Technologies and eBox Platform desire to be for Linux in the server, what Canonical and Ubuntu have been for Linux in the desktop.
And the key point is: how are we building it?… Listening to our users and clients (our partners), so supporting them to develop their business using eBox as a Platform.
Not by chance, eBox Technologies is a 100% partner-focused company. Not by chance, our partner program puts the stress on flexibility, strongly encouraging our partners to develop their own value on top of eBox, even building eBox based products to be re-branded. Mixed, combined or pure, but always flexible.
Whether a mini data-center, a security/VPN appliance, or a micro home sever; eBox is being customized and combined to fit in every hole… Because marketing such a horizontal product would be much difficult without partners which struggle for their picked niches with self adapted tools.
It’s not a new business model neither a brand new strategy, but just a(nother) way to explain Ebox’s perspective.
Paraphrasing both Stephen and Matt blogs, I feel like “in the open road, once more unto the breach”.
Having a great product is not enough to make business, everyone who has run a company knows that. If they don’t see you, you don’t exist. Since our company web site showed up a couple of months ago, the number of qualified leads (potential qualified partners) has been growing up steadily.
Geographically, they are coming mainly from US and Spain, although they are other countries such as Italy and Brazil catching up fast. Surprisingly, A company from Mauritius has been the last one in filling up our “become a partner” form…
Having in mind the where the visits to our websites -both eBox Platform and eBox Technologies– come from, Germany is missing despite of being the third country in number of visitors, very close to US (first) and Spain (second). I am puzzled, why don’t we have any VAR or MSP from Germany knocking in our door yet?.
Anyway, things are going quite well. In the next few weeks we are going to make public the list with the first authorized eBox partners, both Service and Training, from countries such as US, Spain, Mexico or Singapur.
Having in mind than we just sign partners who show real commitment -say, those which are able to offer a superb quality service-, and the time we employ with them to define and develop their business plan with eBox, we should reach the number of 15-20 partners during the next 16 weeks.
Looking at the map and how (geographically) diverse is the people who approach us it’s really motivating. More partners and more diversity, more fun.
eBox Platform 1.2 has been officially published and it’s ready for download from our repositories.
The latest version of eBox Platform includes a lot of new stuff, but I would highlight a couple of new modules that complete the functionality of eBox UTM and eBox Unified Communication Server:
The Intrusion Detection System (IDS, based on Snort) and the PBX that allows telephone over IP (VoIP, based on Asterisk).
Furthermore, as the announcement points out:
“[…] eBox Platform 1.2 is the first partner-ready version, as it allows the registration of different eBox installations in eBox Control Center to facilitate remote access, managed services and advanced support for a group of eBox networks […]”
It means that eBox is ready to sign with the partners which are currently in negotiations, offering them third level support for deployment and maintenance, certified training and the technology needed to become a managed services providers (MSPs).
Last, but not least, this release comes also with a surprise for your Ubuntu based desktops: eBox Desktop, wich provides authentication against eBox LDAP and auto-configuration for the services provided by eBox (mail, samba, Jabber, VoIP, …).
From eBox 1.2 on, eBox Platform will be released on a 6 months basis. Our next stable will be eBox 1.4, which is expected for early January 2010.
What will eBox 1.4 include? Don’t go so fast, enjoy eBox 1.2 and stay tuned :), the new features for 1.4 will be announced in the next few weeks.