When people think of computer telephony, they increasingly think of Skype, which has provided voice services to consumers since 2003. Now, Skype is aiming to extend their near-ubiquity to the enterprise space with the launch of a channel partner program. The move comes amid rumors that Cisco Systems may look to acquire Skype. Here’s the 411.

The most interesting part of the channel program is that it seems to be aimed more at systems integrators than traditional VARs:

“Channel Partners will not be reselling any Skype products to customers; all Skype products will be bought directly from Skype,” says the press release.

Partners are instead going to work with customers to deploy those purchased Skype services, especially when it comes to integrating existing unified communications (UC) and PBX deployments with their VoIP solutions using Skype Connect. That same press release indicates that Skype’s aiming their channel program at partners serving organizations of all sizes.

As for who can get certified as a Skype partner, the company says they’re looking for those with existing customer bases, experience and competence in value-add services, and those who can train users. In return, they get support from Skype both technically and with marketing.

This move makes a lot of sense: Skype’s never been as well known in the business as they are on the personal desktop, but letting the channel help expand their presence has the potential for new opportunities all around.

Skype has gradually built its partner network over the past year or so. One notable deal involves closer integration with Asterisk, the open source IP PBX promoted by Digium. Still, it's unclear how well Skype will compete against other channel VoIP players.

Cisco Meets Skype

Meanwhile, we're also watching closely to see if Cisco makes a bid to acquire Skype. The rumored move would allow Cisco to enter the super low-end video conferencing market. On the one hand, Skype could cannibalize low-end Cisco video conferencing sales. But on the other hand, Skype could load up the Internet with more and more video traffic, which would potentially boost demand for high-end switches and routers.

The Cisco-Skype rumors started in August 2010 but have since quieted down.

Additional reporting by Joe Panettieri. Sign up for The VAR Guy’s NewsletterWebcasts and Resource Center; and via RSS;FacebookIdenti.caTwitter and VARtweet.