“[Partners] have struggled to find reputable data center space for their clients,” American Tower’s director of business development said.
American Tower launched a new channel program to help partners sell its edge data center services.
The real estate investment trust (REIT) on Thursday unveiled the Data Center Channel Partner program, which caters to both reseller and agent partners. The company is making the push into the channel as it tries to lure business customers.
Agents can earn evergreen commissions, and resellers can earn discounts depending on how many racks they take down. The program also includes market development fund opportunities. The barrier to entry is low, as American Tower is only asking for partners to hold a basic cloud certification from elsewhere in the industry. Fox said partners won’t face any competition from direct sales, although American Tower can provide sales engineers to help them with deals.
The company last year announced a new. American Tower in March announced its first service distributor partnership and a partner relationship manager tool. More recently American Tower has appointed Halle Shurland as channel sales manager. It has also tapped the JS Group to help it design its program.
American Tower boasts the large cell phone tower collection in the world. It owns the property and structure of approximately 42,000 sites in the U.S., and leases space to the largest wireless carriers and about 1,000 smaller carriers and government agencies. Historically the company has not invested much in sales, as the towers tend to “sell themselves,” according to David Fox, director of business development.
“When the bulk of your revenue really only comes from 5-6 customers depending where you are, you really don’t need a huge sales force,” Fox said.
But as of 2019 American Tower has been offering data center services in an effort to build residual revenue. The company builds the “edge data centers” at the base of its towers.
However, these edge data centers cater to a different type customer than what American Tower traditionally serves. That is the enterprise, which Fox defines as any company that’s not a major cell phone carrier or data center provider. And because American Tower traditionally keeps its SGNA low, it will be banking on the channel to scale.
“We are not going to build a huge sales force to do that. We want to build all of that through the channel,” Fox said.
JS Group CEO Janet Schijns called American Tower’s indirect sales efforts a “game-changer.”
“I truly think there’s a revolution coming in edge compute, and the channel is very central in that as they work with customers to get closer data and have lower latency, ” Schijns said. “This is fundamentally going to shift how partners have the services and solutions that they need available in their local market.”
American Tower currently operates seven data centers: two in Atlanta, two in Colorado, one in Austin, Texas, one in Jacksonville, Florida, and one in Pittsburgh. Fox said the majority of the data centers reside in tier II and II cities. He said
“We know that those areas can be underserved at times, and we’re looking to provide compute, storage and things for those communities so they don’t have to put it all on some regional [data center] somewhere far away or have to get on a plane to see their equipment,” he said.
Similarly, channel partners have faced the same scarcity when it comes to colocation.
“They’ve struggled to find reputable data center space for their clients,” Fox said. “This is really transformational for the partners to be able to have inventory in their local market.”