Features: SaaS products you should know about

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Features: SaaS products you should know about
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The Software-as-a-service (SaaS) trend is converting conventional software vendors and giving rise to web- only competitors.

Even if you don’t have the skills or interest in selling SaaS you should probably still try to keep abreast of the field.

Thanks to the wave of cloud hype sweeping through public discussion, your customers will have at least heard of the concept and will want to be reassured that you have some knowledge of it too.

Here is a list of some of the most important SaaS services that you should know about.

Productivity

Cloud productivity suites will likely have a much greater impact than the sum of their applications. Office 365 and Google Apps instantly wipe out the email server and start the migration of the file server to the cloud.

The implications for resellers who have built their enterprise around selling Small Business Server are pretty stark – hang onto the status quo while it lasts or change to the new world order.

Microsoft says it is still committed to Small Business Server, and the Essentials version which is optimised for the cloud should give the franchise a longer lease on life – as soon as the plugin for Office 365 is released.

Office 365

This is the big one for many resellers. Businesses of all sizes using Microsoft Office are likely to realise improved operations using the cloud version of the suite. Office 365 brings enterprise terms like collaboration and unified communications to small businesses without forcing them to learn new interfaces or applications. It all looks like Office and feels like Office.

Commissions for Office 365 are recurring year on year as long as the customer maintains the reseller as the partner of record. This is an incentive for the partner to make sure the customer is happy. But it also means a reseller can’t rely on the income indefinitely, as a bigger player might come in with a managed services contract or larger deal that swallows up the licensing for Office 365.

Google Apps

Google Apps has plenty of potential in the small businesses market. It may not have the familiar Microsoft interface but it’s simple to use and it’s cheap. The Apps Marketplace has a huge number of applications that integrate to various degrees with the applications within Google Apps. And there will be many more resellers pushing Office 365 than Google Apps, so competition should be a little less intense.

One downside is that Google is much better at making things than marketing them. Microsoft resellers are being backed up by a huge advertising campaign on Cloud Power, whereas Google seems too busy developing the next great application to bother with the mundane issues of selling the stuff. It’s a pity.

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