SaaS and IaaS sales present lucrative opportunities for your business, but you may have been avoiding or limiting them because you haven’t wanted to hassle with vetting providers or setting up contracts. Both of those tasks require time and money — two limited resources for most channel partners.
But now, as cloud services have gained momentum, securing users’ interest and confidence, marketplaces are popping up. Understanding what they do and how you can profit is essential. After all, as one brokerage puts it, now is the ideal time for VARs, agents, MSPs and other solution providers to show customers that they are the go-to experts on cloud.
“We are not going to be at this point along the cloud adoption curve forever," said Dan Moore, director of channel development for ComputeNext Inc. “Channel partners have a limited window of opportunity in positioning themselves as the thought leaders in this transition."
What Is a Cloud Marketplace?
Think of a cloud marketplace as a Google Play for Iaas and SaaS products. Such a marketplace brings together dozens of brands, lets users do custom searches according to their parameters, and then buy those services through the website. Cloud marketplaces typically have selected the vendors and haggled through the terms and conditions for partners and customers, and then provided access to them in one place.
Gartner Inc. includes cloud marketplaces in its definition of a cloud services brokerage (CSB), or an entity that “plays an intermediary role in cloud computing. CSBs make it easier for organizations to consume and maintain cloud services, particularly when they span multiple providers." This definition, then includes distributors and master agents, as well as the emerging “born in the cloud" aggregators that offer their wares only online. Indeed, there is overlap in these models, and many distributors are offering classic online marketplaces for cloud services as well.
Dina Moskowitz, founder and CEO of SaaSMAX, said “rather than be viewed as a competitor to traditional disties, we should be viewed more so as a supplement to disties."
While there can be overlap in the software that a cloud marketplace and a distributor may offer; marketplace are more likely to also work with smaller, innovative cloud providers that may not have the resources to qualify for a traditional distribution deal.
That said, marketplaces vary in their levels of technical support. While cloud partners — VARs, agents or MSPs — can source cloud providers from a marketplace, they often must handle the SaaS or IaaS implementation and integration and first-level customer support.