CRN Exclusive: ScanSource Teams Up With Lifesize To Drive Hosted And Cloud Video Services

ScanSource is partnering with video collaboration powerhouse Lifesize Solutions to more aggressively grow its audio, video and web conferencing capabilities in the cloud.

The Greenville, S.C.-based distributor said adding Austin, Texas-based Lifesize to the line card will enable ScanSource to sell an offering with both camera and conference phone system hardware as well as an annuity maintenance component, Yvette McKenzie, vice president of merchandising for ScanSource Communications, told CRN exclusively.  

"We're thrilled," Tim Maloney, Lifesize's senior vice president of worldwide channels. "Our brand will be positively impacted by the association with ScanSource and the ability to access new partners."

[Related: ScanSource CEO: Broadline Competitive Acquisitions Won't Hurt Our Margins]

Video conferencing has in the past few years moved beyond board rooms and other large spaces to desktops and personal devices, said Rich Long, president of ScanSource Communications.

To better facilitate this migration, Long said the ecosystem has evolved from on-premises systems, where end users host the engagement themselves, to cloud-based setups where end users can use and consume the technology in the manner they want. Cloud-based video conferencing technology has, to date, been more adopted by SMBs, meaning that the enterprise customers represent a large sales opportunity.

Lifesize currently uses Fremont, Calif.-based Synnex and Avon, Ohio-based Jenne for distribution in North America, Maloney said. Adding ScanSource will enable the vendor to tap into an entirely new ecosystem of solution provider. More than 90 percent of Lifesize's business goes through channel partners, Maloney said, with direct relationship reserved only for the company's largest customers.

The vendor offers scalable solutions starting at a few thousand dollars to cover an individual or a room seating three to four people, Maloney said. End users looking to equip 10-to-20 person board rooms and 50-to-100 seat auditoriums with video conferencing technology from Lifesize should expect to spend $20,000 to $30,000, according to Maloney.   

Customers begin by purchasing HD cameras and HD conference phone systems, providing channel partners with upfront revenue, Maloney said. From there, Maloney said the relationship between the solution provider and end user shifts to a yearly Software-as-a-Service subscription focused on ongoing maintenance.   

ScanSource's initial go-to-market efforts will focus on channel partners that already focus on ProAV or the installation of video conferencing equipment and therefore know and understand Lifesize's technology, Long said.

From there, Long said ScanSource plans to focus on channel partners in the unified communications space selling ShoreTel, Mitel or Avaya. These partners typically already know who Lifesize is and should find their offerings to be complementary to what they're already doing, according to Long.  

ScanSource Communications works with roughly 50 vendors, Long said, half of which are focused on the ProAV space. Long considers Lifesize to be one of just a few key brands in the space and will be supported and complemented by ScanSource's other vendor partnerships.

Universities are increasingly looking for their classrooms to be outfitted by video conferencing technology to support distance learning, according to Harry Holt, executive vice president of operations for Bithgroup Technologies. The Baltimore-based ScanSource partner is currently in negotiations with one customer to do video conferencing work, according to Holt.  

Higher education customers are typically looking for something that's reliable, relatively easy to use, and provides high quality video and audio output, Holt said. Most of the universities Holt has communicated with are interested in moving to cloud-based video services, according to Holt.

"They're not in the business of trying to maintain some of these types of equipment," Holt said. "They want to have someone else be responsible for maintaining and fixing it and dealing with any issues."

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