Channel Watch

Shedding a Light on the SaaS Trail

Despite uncertain prospects, a few partners are already investing in some of Microsoft's SaaS- and cloud-based initiatives.

I don't often use this space to talk about the content in the rest of the magazine, but we're excited this month to bring you the stories of two partners with strong ties to Microsoft that are each moving creatively into the promising future of Software as a Service (SaaS).

Our cover story is a question-and-answer session with Wayne Beekman, principal at Herndon, Va.-based Gold Certified Partner Information Concepts. Beekman's experience is interesting because he set up a cloud-computing practice more than a year ago, and he's taking a platform-agnostic approach to customers. That means bringing the cloud offerings from Google and Amazon -- and, soon, Microsoft Azure -- into customer conversations as appropriate.

We're also featuring the story of PointBridge, which is one of the first partner companies to start generating serious revenues out of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), Microsoft's controversial mainstream foray into Software plus Services.

PointBridge co-founder Todd Golden shared the company's BPOS experience with RCP contributor Stephen Swoyer.

Both companies are putting solid investment behind some Microsoft initiatives with admittedly uncertain prospects. While SaaS seems certain to have a future, it's not clear yet whether BPOS or Azure will soar high or precipitate out of the mix.

For those of you who argue we're dedicating too much space to all this new-age mumbo jumbo, I'd point you first to the feature about Windows 7's launch this month. That client OS release is one of those broad-based events with the potential to generate a lot of old-school, old-style business. We're providing as much solid information as possible to help you make the most of Windows Vista's replacement.

Second, I'd say: We get it. A lot of cloud-computing stuff is pie in the sky, and there's strength left yet in the existing business models. But the transition is hard, and we want to spotlight the experiences of partners who are already out there struggling to build a market.

This pair of features is in the same vein as a Q&A we ran with Mitchell Cannady of Spinnaker Network Solutions in August 2008, about how his company was ramping up a new sales team devoted purely to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

New business challenges require new business approaches. We hope you'll find the experiences of Beekman and Golden thought-provoking and helpful as you make your plans for your own cloud-computing journeys.

Think we're all wet writing about companies' efforts in the cloud, or do you want more? I'd like to hear about it. And if you have a good story of your own about struggles and victories involving any kind of channel business experiments, let me know about that, too. You can reach me at sbekker@rcpmag.com.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.