Analysts and industry watchers agree that the next frontier for SaaS is setting distribution channels designed specifically for the cloud and providing mechanisms for managing multiple SaaS offerings from a single control point. These advancements will likely come from a variety of sources: established SaaS vendors, startups providing SaaS channel enabling software, and cloud service brokerage houses. Here are 10 to watch, listed in alphabetical order.
Headquarters: San Francisco
Why we're watching: Think of the AppDirect Ecosystem as a marketplace as a service (MaaS) which provides the platform for cloud service brokerages (CSBs) to build bundled SaaS offerings for regional, business process-focused or vertical markets.
Among the SaaS applications applications aggregated into this platform are Google Apps, Office 365 and TribeHR. Some of the CSBs that have bought into AppDirect's platform are Bell Canada and Deutsche Telekom.
Headquarters: Redmond, Washington
Why we're watching: Concur is a leading provider of integrated travel and expense SaaS. It's got 15,000 existing users and a grand plan to get many more thousands, thanks to a tight partnership with Salesforce.com. Dubbed Concurforce, the partnership allows for data integration between the two SaaS offerings so that companies can understand how expenses are directly correlated with reeling in new sales leads. Since expenses touch everything, it will be interesting to see with which other software builders Concur will align its data.
Company: Ingram Micro
Headquarters: Santa Ana, California
Why we're watching: According to the recently published Cloud & Technology Transformation Alliance's (CTTA) State of the Cloud Channel Report, Ingram Micro has the mindshare advantage among traditional software distributors when it comes to convincing software makers they’ve got a solid strategy for distributing SaaS going forward. That said, the report also states that this segment of the SaaS delivery channel has been a bit stymied by an inability to find cloud-experienced sales and technical staff.
Headquarters: Santa Clara, California
Why we're watching: Jamcracker has a long history - 13 years, in fact - in aggregating and distributing on-demand services through a global ecosystem of service providers, resellers, system integrators and ISVs, called the Jamcracker Services Delivery Network (JSDN). Services available through the JSDN include messaging, collaboration, security, online data backup, wireless, and business productivity solutions from Microsoft, Cisco, McAfee, BlackBerry, IBM, Google, and dozens of other cloud providers.
Headquarters: London, England
Why we're watching: Ospero is an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) vendor that is looking to use its underlying federated VMware cloud running on a VCE Vblock hardware to build a better SaaS delivery channel into the enterprise across Europe. The company calls the prospect distribution as a service (DaaS), and the goal is to help SaaS vendors roll out global instances without the worry of legal data residency.
Headquarters: San Mateo, California
Why we're watching: NetSuite is an undisputed leader in the accounting and ERP segments of the SaaS market. It’s followed the Salesforce.com model of building its SuiteApp.com applications marketplace around its core offering. But the company has also forged several key partnerships under its SuiteCloud program - including with Google Apps, Salesforce.com, SAP and Oracle - to provide complete integration between its on-premise and cloud applications.
Headquarters: Seattle, Washington
Why we're watching: Parallels has a long history in and around virtualisation and cloud computing. It's got significant experience as the provider of infrastructure, application and end-user cloud enablement software and it takes all three levels into account as it has developed its SaaS marketplace software. Among its customers are Cincinnati Bell, Insight, Apptix and Sprint.
Headquarters: San Francisco
Why we're watching: This SaaS giant cannot be ignored due to its track record for success in the cloud. With its 200,000-customer base, it's no wonder that its AppExchange marketplace for complimentary products has ballooned to include more than 1,400 applications. It will be interesting to see how Salesforce.com opens up deeper integration between the products to help drive SaaS sales deeper into corporate IT.
Company: Standing Cloud
Headquarters: Boulder, Colorado
Why we're watching: Standing Cloud provides cloud application management services built on a platform-as-as-service (PaaS) offering that supports multiple programming languages, including Rails, PHP, Java and Python, and a wide range of cloud service providers and orchestration software systems. It also offers a standard application catalogue that includes 100 open source and commercial applications. The combination is meant to offer a seamless application layer for cloud service providers that, in turn, will make application deployment and management fast, simple and hassle-free for their customers.
Headquarters: Pleasanton, California
Why we're watching: Workday was founded in 2005 by co-CEOs Aneel Bhusri and Dave Duffield and currently offers cloud-based human capital management SaaS that can analyse workforce expenses and manage the process of paying staff. And it's making good money at it, too. We're watching this firm closely because it's staring down on-premise competitors Oracle and SAP. This is turning into a battle of might against agility, and should result in some interesting twists on how to deliver SaaS smarter, quicker, cheaper.