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SaaSplaza opens European SaaS marketplace

Europe's first pureplay SaaS hosting venture opened its doors last month with a roster of 50 vendors and integration partners on board and an estimated 1 million end user subscribers. Based in the Netherlands but with a Europe-wide reach, SaaSplaza projects its platform will generate more than €100 million (around $150 million) in SaaS revenues for its partners this year.
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Written by Phil Wainewright on

Europe's first pureplay SaaS hosting venture opened its doors last month with a roster of 50 vendors and integration partners on board and an estimated 1 million end user subscribers. Based in the Netherlands but with a Europe-wide reach, SaaSplaza projects its platform will generate more than €100 million (around $150 million) in SaaS revenues for its partners this year.

Although freshly launched, the venture has a pedigree going back more than ten years, being the brainchild of Siennax, a SaaS specialist that industry veterans will recall as a leading European light of the ASP era. The SaaSplaza venture has grown out of Siennax' own SaaS hosting experience along with its early participation in Microsoft's SaaS incubation program. As such, it has inherited Siennax' existing SaaS hosting customers including those acquired through the Microsoft program. Customers can host on Microsoft or open source platforms, along with a range of service delivery management infrastructure assembled through Siennax' long experience. SaaSplaza will support a range of architectures, ranging from ASP-style application hosting and virtualized single-tenant infrastructures to true multi-tenancy.

SaaSplaza sees its role as coaxing European ISVs and their channel partners into the SaaS model. Herb Prooy, who goes by the somewhat unorthodox job title of 'Market Maker' for SaaSplaza and is also CEO of Siennax, told me last week that the European market for SaaS is not as well developed in the US at present.

"The mentality here is lagging behind the US, but best-of-breed software suppliers are looking into the SaaS market — otherwise they [risk being] passed by other vendors," he said. "We position SaaSplaza as a platform a software vendor can put their software on and offer to their channels. We really want to facilitate the value chain of software vendors and partners."

For channel partners, one of the big selling points of SaaSplaza will be the ability to combine multiple SaaS offerings into an aggregate solution, Prooy believes. "We make it easy for the partner to offer more than one application. The idea is to give the local partner the power to offer a SaaS solution to their customers."

Increasing the overall value of the SaaS solution, for example by adding in hosted Microsoft products such as Exchange and Sharepoint alongside more specialized business applications, will help overcome an important source of partner resistance to SaaS, he added. "The partner can compensate the upfront loss when he doesn't sell the licence because he earns more over time. We lower the threshold to get into the SaaS business." The partnership with Microsoft is also expected to help build confidence. "If we can show that we make it very simple for them, supported by Microsoft, then we can help those partners that are hesitating [about] moving in this direction."

It's a sign of how strongly US companies dominate the SaaS scene, even in Europe, that this announcement of a pretty substantial new market entrant — well, newly rebranded at least — got absolutely no coverage in any online tech media, including local European titles. SaaSplaza isn't deterred by the lack of publicity because it'll be working primarily with the Microsoft ecosystem initially, and can use Microsoft's own partner relations channels, but there's a lesson here for US observers: don't assume there's nothing happening on SaaS in Europe simply because you don't read about it in the media. A lot is going on here, and over the next couple of weeks I plan to be writing much more about it.

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