Every VAR loves a fat contract with a big client though, and SaaS will offer these opportunities as wellâ€”but the VARs will have to rethink everything they have ever known, approaching sales and marketing to the enterprise in a whole new light. Stephanie Atkinson, principal analyst at Compass Intelligence, notes, "In some cases, this will compete with some of the strongest software applications that VARs and SIs are offering today. The difference is, these applications reside on the Internet through secure login. Companies will want a customized look and feel, so customer portals will be important."
Vendors who rely heavily on their sales partners are already renovating their channel programs to accommodate the switch. Microsoft's "Software Plus Service" is a major play for the Redmond company, and thousands of Microsoft partners are expected to play along. On their end, Microsoft has developed a pay plan for solution providers selling hosted services, offering a 12 percent cut for the first year and six percent for renewals.
The concept of SaaS has been around for a long time, so why is it so big now? According to Kubick, "companies have become increasingly fiscally conservative." Having to buy perpetual licenses, make large capital investments in hardware, and hire more staff to take care of it all "are problems that companies suffer less easily than they have in the past." Selling SaaS solutions, in an environment where capital budgets are tight, is just going to be an easier sell, but it calls for a change of thinking. Eivind Sukkestad, Principal of Langtech Systems Consulting, a reseller of Iron Mountain's LiveVault, says the best thing a VAR can do to prepare for selling SaaS is to "spend some time educating themselves on what the various SaaS solutions are actually capable of providing when compared to more traditional on-premise solutions."