Disties make SaaS easy

You’re probably sick and tired of hearing bad news about the economy every time you flip on the TV or open a newspaper. But, unfortunately, much of the tech news these days is somehow related to the economy, and distribution is no exception.

Thankfully, there are some silver linings in this black storm cloud – with technologies and initiatives that can help weather the storm. One of those much-talked-about technologies that really does have potential to weather the storm is software-as-a-service. Not only does it offer up the latest-and-greatest in technology that can help customers stay on the leading edge, it doesn’t require any huge upfront commitments or installation costs. Really, it’s a no-brainer.

So Ingram Micro has teamed up with Microsoft to provide access to the vendor’s Service Provider License Agreement, specifically aimed at solution providers selling into the small and mid-sized market. This means solutions providers now have access to a range of hosted Microsoft products, including Office, SharePoint Server, SQL Server, Exchange and Windows Server. Customers pay a monthly fee to the solution provider, rather than acquiring their own licensed products.

SaaS has always been a great idea – but nowadays it may be even more appealing to customers, especially those that have been sitting on the fence, wondering whether to try it out.

Ingram, for its part, believes this SaaS trend will gain momentum in the SMB market, since it offers flexibility and cost savings. And, the licensing program simplifies the sale for solution providers, since they only pay for the software they’ve authorized their customers to use over the previous month. The program is already available to Microsoft-certified partners in Canada and the U.S.

But Ingram isn’t the only distie jumping on the SaaS bandwagon. Avnet has added hosted Microsoft SharePoint to its SaaS offerings (the distie introduced hosted Exchange back in January). Available immediately, hosted SharePoint is available in one-, two- or three-year contracts that can be adjusted over time (say, for example, if a business grows and adds more users).

Of course, Microsoft also has its own direct business, which may be a concern to some solution providers. The difference is that, as an independent third party, you can add value or customized solutions to the overall offering – and that’s what will set you apart from Microsoft and other SaaS providers out there.

Distributors are offering an easy way to get into the SaaS game without having to make a huge investment – and, funny enough, tough economic times may be the incentive required to get customers onboard.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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