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Ingram's Seismic Shift for SaaS

There's hype, and then there's movement. All of the articles -- some of them here -- about SaaS being the next big thing, about how partners should prepare for it, about whether Microsoft is ready for it...that's all, or at least mostly, hype.

Ingram Micro's announcement this week that it will expand its portfolio of hosted Microsoft applications and offer partners the opportunity to resell private-label hosted applications...is movement.

It's movement toward something, anyway -- toward an easier path to offering SaaS for lots of partners in different categories and of different sizes. Oh, sure, we know. There are a lot of hosting providers out there, and they have great opportunities for partners to resell hosted applications to customers. We're not discounting them at all, and we'll keep telling you about them, too.

We're only saying that Ingram -- a distributor pretty much everybody in the channel knows well -- kicking its offerings up to SharePoint, Exchange and (eventually) Dynamics CRM Online represents a notable step in the progression of SaaS for the "average" partner and customer. Ingram has breadth and reach that a lot of other hosting providers don't necessarily have, and it has the kind of name recognition that might make even the most SaaS-averse partner look at setting up an operation for hosted apps.

What's nice about Ingram's program -- and, again, the distributor is hardly alone here -- is that partners can brand their own hosted offerings even though Ingram (along with its own partners) is handling things on the back end. That means that partners can become "trusted advisers" to customers -- something everybody wants to be -- without having to compromise their own branding or name recognition.

OK, so maybe calling Ingram's announcement a "seismic" shift is a little much, but that's the name of the company's hosting platform, so we're just playing off of it. Still, this week's news is a sign that SaaS isn't just for those on the cutting-edge anymore, and, really, it hasn't been for a while. It's mainstream and accessible...and, we're guessing, in demand.

What's your strategy for offering hosted applications? Drop a line to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on April 17, 2008 at 11:54 AM


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