It's not easy being unique in the file sync and share world. There are plenty of options to choose from, and most of them provide some flavor of the same thing. PanTerra Networks, however, is hoping its offering not only provides something different for end users, but also for the channel.

PanTerra unveiled SmartBox, a file sync and share cloud service that's mixed with PanTerra's unified communications (UC) technologies. As Arthur Chang, CEO of PanTerra Networks, explained to Talkin' Cloud, SmartBox is "essentially a cloud file sharing service that communicates." Chang sees this as the next generation of file sync and share—blending the basic core functionality of cloud-based file sharing with other cloud services.

Targeted at midmarket enterprises with between 50 and 2,000 users, SmartBox was designed to be a secure, simple file sync and share product with added UC elements. From presence to tying voicemail directly into the applications, SmartBox is also meant to simplify and reduce the number of cloud services and cloud services providers end customers use.

For the channel, Chang said he believes PanTerra has a compelling opportunity to present to its partners. PanTerra built its core UC business around the channel, he said, and the company has engineered its file sync and share service to be channel-friendly.

"We will be offering SmartBox into the channel with a very rich recurring revenue compensation plan," Chang said.

It's basically a resell opportunity, but partners own the recurring revenue stream that is generated for the life of the customer. They don't so much own the customer, though. The one potentially red flag is that PanTerra handles all of the billing and configuration, dealing directly with the customer, even though a channel partner made the initial contact and sale.

It's a story partners have heard before, and for many, it can create a bad situation. Just look at the early channel days of Microsoft Office 365 for an example. But unlike the Office 365 debacle, a customer doesn't have the power to remove the closing partner's recurring revenue stream with a simple phone call. According to Chang, it's a revenue stream that lasts for the lifespan of the customer.

"The bottom line is they want to know how to make money. They're interested in the product, but they really want to know how to make money," Chang said of partners.

He also noted that he understands the channel of today is not the channel of a few years ago. Channel partners have options, and PanTerra wants to be a true partner rather than a dictator, he said.