The Cloud, ERP and the Channel Partners (Part III)

Cloud solutions are impacting application software ecosystems. Channel partners will need to change several aspects of their businesses to optimize their revenues and profits. This is Part III of a series.

This is the final section of a three part series on how cloud solutions are changing the channel ecosystem.)

ERP software vendors are approaching the move to cloud in a dizzying array of methods. Some, by the nature of their newness, know only the cloud environment and have no on-premise solutions. Most, though, have their feet in both markets.

Microsoft is trying to offer upgrade paths for its Navision and Axapta users to move from on-premise to hosted and, eventually, pure cloud solutions over time. They are quite attuned to their partner ecosystem’s need to smoothly manage these transitions while simultaneously triggering no abrupt loss of revenue to partners and to permit user customizations to carry from one solution environment to the next. In Microsoft’s case, I haven’t seen how these changes will make it to the multi-tenant versions of these products (because they aren’t here yet (except for Dynamics CRM). It’s a good strategy but I always like to see things work in the ERP space before believing something I’m told will someday happen.

SAP has now released an SDK for its Business ByDesign SaaS solution.

Workday has recently created an Integration-as-a-Service (IaaS) component to their products. This is an integration aid not a full PaaS. Nonetheless, it moves their product closer to being a big hit with the implementers who install high-end enterprises solutions.

Salesforce.com, the folks who really pushed the SaaS environment early and often, has more going for its channel partners than most any other SaaS vendor. The Force.com platform, the citizen programming capabilities with VMForce, Chatter and much more make their environment an incredible playpen for implementers who are looking for new ways to grow and stretch their services businesses. Just ask FinancialForce.com, this is the Unit4/Agresso joint venture with Salesforce that built a new financial ERP solution in record time with the SFDC tools.

I also want to remind readers that NetSuite is right on SFDC’s heels when it comes to creating a powerful toolset for channel partners. The last time I chatted with NetSuite executives, I learned about the interest they are generating from traditional ERP resellers of other products but also from large integrators as well.

Markets are never static. Whether you like or hate the cloud, multi-tenancy, the global economy and other phenomena, realize that they are here. Make your service business agile, nimble and successful. Make the new ERP economy ‘the new good ol’ days’. Your employees and clients might really appreciate that.

Click here to read Part I or Part II

Full disclosure – I have authored or co-authored a number of analyst reports on SAP, Workday and other ERP vendors. I have been a speaker at NetSuite, Progress, Workday and other vendor events. And, I've been a guest at countless user conferences. Many vendors pick up my travel costs but some don't (e.g., Microsoft) and my firm covers those costs. I do not own any securities in any of the vendors discussed in this series of posts.

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