There’s a gathering snowball of vendors releasing programmes in a bid to attract partners to resell their cloud/software as a service offerings.
Salesforce.com in the US, for example, has set up a programme designed to attract resellers with a low per month cost, and the alluring prospect of recurring revenue.
Google Apps suite resellers are also being offered list price discounts, while Microsoft used its recent Worldwide Partner Conference to outline partner pricing for the software giant’s Azure platform.
In another example, Red Hat’s cloud certification scheme involves working with multiple cloud providers. Amazon, additionally, is working with a plethora of developers around the world on its web services.
Salesforce and Sun Microsystems, among others, have recognised the need to open their cloud platforms and APIs to the myriad partners developing hosted services on top.
These global announcements are accompanied by a parallel upward trend in the number of local partners developing their own cloud services.
Together, these trends are growing the adoption rate of software as a service.
The technology is still relatively immature, but a couple of years ago when cloud computing was genuinely in its infancy, partners rightly held disintermediation fears.
What isn’t in doubt is that the cloud has disrupted traditional channel models, but it has also provided opportunities for vendors to give partners a prominent role in increasing the uptake of the delivery model.
Locally, the services model for software delivery appeals to small and mid-size business users seeking flexibility and predictability. This is an opportunity partners realise must be capitalised on.
As the local market is smaller in comparison to international counterparts, and has a greater number of smaller firms, an indirect sales model makes economic sense for vendors offering both hosted and on-premise software.
In this context, how should vendors ensure they’re maximising partners’ involvement in their cloud offerings?
Firstly, they should make it easy for partners to resell their offerings, and reward the skills that make it simple for end users to deploy and grow their use of software as a service. Keep pricing structures and discount plans basic and both partners and customers will benefit from ease of use.
Users may be starting on the road to services-delivered software, beginning with one or two specific applications, or they may have reached the stage where an integrated cloud portfolio, and therefore refreshed and integrated infrastructure, is required.
At each stage, partners have the opportunity to maintain their role as trusted technology advisors. This applies particularly where there are established relationships or specific areas of expertise or in vertical markets.
Adoption of a vendor’s cloud offerings has the potential to increase, when a partner has resold one application and can extend this to other platforms or areas of a customer’s business.
In addition, the distribution of hosted services brings opportunities for partners to aggregate and disperse services. Here, new skills are called for in billing and the maintenance/renewal process.
Are vendors ensuring such expertise is recognised among their channels?
There should also be acknowledgement that flexible models will continue to be needed – most organisations employ a mix of hosted and on-premise delivery — and partners need to be able to offer what their customers require.