Cloud unified communications (UC) provider Thinking Phone Networks is expanding its channel partner program with the hiring of a new regional channel lead. Former Spring and West IP channel lead D.J. Kreft has joined the company as regional vice president of Channel Sales — East.

Based in Atlanta, Kreft's job will be to drive more growth in the eastern United States. According to Thinking Phone, the company has been growing considerably, doubling revenue in 2012, but the company has also been forming a solid channel presence that has continued to grow, as you can see by recent additions to its partner program (Telecom Brokerage in March, X4 Solutions in February and Bridgepointe Technologies in November 2012).

Thinking Phone is also one of those companies that has found itself listed by Gartner as a Magic Quadrant "Leader" in its space. Kreft, who has held channel leadership roles at Sprint and West IP Communications, as well as business development roles at Simplify, will work with Dallas-based Rob Shelby, who heads up channel sales for the western United States.

Carl Moore, Thinking Phone's vice president of business development, noted in a prepared statement that the company's cloud channel partners are playing a critical role in its growth. Cloud-based UC is a huge market that continues to grow. Industry analysts expect the overall market to top $7.5 billion by 2018 with a compounded annual growth rate of 25 percent. The unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) market represents a large opportunity for channel partners. That much seems pretty clear.

Thinking Phone's take on the market is to provide its partners with "a complete UC application platform that enables immediate entry into cloud communications with minimal investment compared to legacy deployments."

Hiring on channel industry vets is a good move that should keep Thinking Phone and other companies moving forward and growing in a rapidly developing market.