Salesforce.com is opening its Force.com cloud platform to all third-party channel resellers, from the local one-man IT shop to big systems integrators.
On Wednesday, the company announced its new VAR (value-added reseller) Program. The programme is aimed at vendors that help local, small to medium-sized businesses manage their hardware, software and infrastructure needs.
Salesforce executives said that many small-business owners are still leery of the cloud, but do trust the local support technicians and technology consultants who advise them on how to operate efficiently and save money.
"Some people have counted the channel out when it comes to the cloud. I think this it's a vital piece of the channel chain," Mark Trang, senior director for global partner marketing at Salesforce said.
"They have years of relationships with clients over the years, have trained their own teams, made educational investments and built out their domains. How do they translate all of this to the cloud?"
The VAR Program, Trang said, is designed to give consulting partners a way to make money in the cloud. It allows them to maintain an ongoing revenue stream by letting them add applications and features to the Force.com platform and then sell that package to their customers.
The package can then be renewed with the channel partner, rather than with Salesforce. That means the reseller owns the customer relationship and contract renewal.
Pricing for the VAR Program is $7.50 (£4.65) per month, per user.
In addition, Salesforce plans to add services listings to its AppExchange online marketplace, where developers and companies buy and sell applications for the Salesforce platform. This should provide the resellers with a forum for finding new applications to offer their customers, the company said.
It will also give developers an opportunity to interact with them — possibly building relationships that could generate custom apps or extra business down the road.
The changes to the AppExchange will occur next month, Salesforce said.