One of the tougher questions posed during the roundtable was the future of the traditional systems integrator in software-as-a-service world.
Macquarie Hosting’s Stuart Mills claimed true SaaS disinter mediated the traditional channel and said resellers should be worried about the threat it posed.
But while agreeing the way to deliver technology needed to change, other attendees believed SIs continued to play a crucial role.
Intrapower’s Rich Robards was hoping to increase his interaction with the systems integration space, not lessen it.
“Let’s say you are an SI of a particular application like ERP or CRM – your expertise in knowing the customer base, as well as knowing the application and knowing how to doing the business process re-engineering – your value is adding all that up and deploying it,” he said. “I see SIs having a huge role to play – a provider may enable access to the IP address to the data hosted in their datacentre, but SIs have a fundamental and massive role in making that available. Once it is up and running, it needs an SLA, and who’s going to manage that? That is what SaaS and cloud computing is all about.”
Another area of opportunity was overcoming issues with identity management across all all SaaS platforms, Trend Micro’s Adam Biviano said.
“There are multiple vendors providing those products and it’s another building block you can add,” he said. “Software-as-a-service products are just like any other technology piece of the puzzle. They can live in isolation to solve specific business problems, ala Salesforce.com, or they can be part of your ongoing business strategy and be integrated into the rest of your business the same way you would integrate two other disjointed pieces of technology – you need to find the middleware, then define the processes and policies that glue it all together. The traditional SIs still have a role to play.”
NewLease’s Doug Tutus agreed SaaS was just one component of that whole cycle.
“It will never be the only mechanism with his customers. The challenge for us is to educate these guys and evolve our models to be able to remunerate these guys to sell our products, from the SaaS world, into their customer base,” he said.
In this economically constrained environment, people were looking for alternatives and there was a huge opportunity, MailGuard’s Michael Bosnar said.
“The customer demand is there, and the vendors have reluctantly got a model for it. The gap is for the partners to be able to glue it together and do things like single identity access, to offer best-of-breed applications and bringing it all together for the customer in a single point,” he said. “If a reseller gets their head around that, they will make money.”