For Small SaaS Vendors, The Benefit Of A Free Tier Is To Attract Partners

TJ Keitt

Recently, I published a report about a small software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor, Dimdim, which is having success in the crowded Web conferencing market. Like many small vendors, Dimdim provides a free service tier, generously allowing up to 20 participants into the free meeting, to help drum up business. The report, though, did not simply highlight the number of users that Dimdim has captured in four short years of existence -- over 5 million -- but also its success in attracting partners like Intuit, Novell and Nortel CVAS. Why? For new vendors entering crowded markets, attracting partners is vital for two reasons:

  1. Partners open doors to new markets. In crowded markets, incumbent vendors and new entrants jostle to serve customer needs. For the new entrants, the customers that can be wrangled through media hype and analyst buzz is minimal. Mass appeal comes from firms with strong working relationships with a range of buyers in a number of markets -- e.g., oil & gas, healthcare, government -- embracing a small vendor's offering and introducing it to their clients.
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AP's API Empowers New Media Through AWS And Azure

James Staten

 

It’s no secret traditional news organizations are struggling to stay relevant today in an age where an always-connected generation has little use for newspaper subscriptions and nightly news programs. The Associated Press (AP), the world's oldest and largest news cooperative, is one such organization who has felt the threats which this paradigm shift carries and thus the need to intensify its innovation efforts. However, like many organizations today, its in-house IT Ops and business processes weren’t versatile enough for the kind of innovation needed.

"The business had identified a lot of new opportunities we just weren't able to pursue because our traditional syndication services couldn't support them," said Alan Wintroub, director of development, enterprise application services at the AP, "but the bottom line is that we can't afford not to try this."

To make AP easily accessible for emerging Internet services, social networks, and mobile applications, the nearly 164-year-old news syndicate needed to provide new means of integration that let these customers serve themselves and do more with the content — mash it up with other content, repackage it, reformat it, slice it up, and deliver it in ways AP never could think of —  or certainly never originally intended.

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To Get Cloud Economics Right, Think Small, Very, Very Small

James Staten

A startup, who wishes to remain anonymous, is delivering an innovative new business service from an IaaS cloud and most of the time pays next to nothing to do this. This isn't a story about pennies per virtual server per hour - sure they take advantage of that- but more a nuance of cloud optimization any enterprise can follow: reverse capacity planning

Most of us are familiar with the black art of capacity planning. You take an application, simulate load against it, trying to approximate the amount of traffic it will face in production, then provision the resources to accommodate this load. With web applications we tend to capacity plan against expected peak, which is very hard to estimate - even if historical data exists. You capacity plan to peak because you don't want to be overloaded and cause the client to wait, error out, or go to your competition for your service.

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The partner opportunity in cloud computing - Microsoft WPC

James Staten

What is the opportunity for Microsoft partners (or other VARs, SIs, ISVs and technologists) in the emerging cloud computing space? Don't think of cloud as a threat but as an opportunity to ratchet up your value to the business my evangelizing and encouraging their transition to the cloud. How? At the recent Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference I addressed this issue in an Expo Theater presentation. Missed it? Now you haven't:

Watch the video here.

Share your thoughts here by commenting below.

- James

As Cloud Platforms Battle For Credibility, OpenStack Is Pretty Solid

James Staten

It seems every few weeks yet another company announces a cloud computing infrastructure platform. I'm not talking about public clouds but the underlying software which can turn a virtualized infrastructure into an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) — whether public or private.

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Microsoft Truly Does Have Its Head In The Cloud – And Wants Its Partners To Join It!

Peter O'Neill

This week, I was at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., and it was all about THE CLOUD. Now, many colleagues argue that Microsoft will be the second-to-last major vendor to show a 100% cloud commitment, saying that “it’s too embedded in its traditional software business,” “it doesn’t understand the new world,” and “it’d be scared of cannibalizing existing and predictable maintenance revenues.” But I remember Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft Business Systems, tell me with a mischievous grin that he’ll probably earn more money from Exchange Online than the on-premise version — “firstly, it’s mainly new business from other platforms like Lotus Notes, and second, I even generate revenues by charging for things like the data center buildings, the infrastructure, even the electricity I use.” That was in Berlin last November. I suspected then that Microsoft did get it but was just getting its platform ready. This week, I am convinced — Microsoft is “all in,” as they say.

And at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, it was driving its partners to the cloud as aggressively as any vendor has ever talked to its partners at such an event. All of the Microsoft executives preached a consistent mantra: “MOVE to the cloud, or you may not be around in five years.”

Microsoft’s cloud-based Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) is already being promoted by 16,000 partners that either get referral incentives for Microsoft-billed BPOS fees or bundle it into their own offerings (mainly telcos). There are nearly 5,000 certified Azure-ready partners. This week, Microsoft turned up the heat with these announcements:

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Selling The Cloud

Stefan Ried

Many cloud computing services in the consumer space are per se for free. Even sophisticated platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments are coming from most vendors with a free sandbox environment and start charging finally the productive use. The obvious question I hear from many vendors today is how to monetize platforms and applications in the cloud. The situation for established ISVs of business applications can be even worse: The cloud might significantly cannibalize existing license revenue streams. Thus a transformation of existing business models and vendor strategy is anything but easy.

Addressing this challenge, I'd like to point you to a Forrester workshop Selling The Cloud” on 30th September in London.

The workshop will focus on a evaluating your “cloud readiness” and consequently help develop your cloud strategy through the use of a self assessment tool. This is a great opportunity to learn an effective method for improving the business results of any migration to a cloud-based service. You can actually predict which, if any, of your products will be successful in a cloud deployment.

The workshop will be hosted by Stefan Ried, Senior Analyst at Forrester and in case you’re interested, here’s a Web page with an agenda: View Workshop Details.

You can register right on the site or, if you’d like more information, you can contact an Event Sales Representative at +1 888/343-6786 or events@forrester.com

You can also simply leave a comment to this blog, asking any question to the event agenda and value.

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Forrester's Cloud Computing Taxonomy

Stefan Ried

We just published a new report entitled "The Evolution Of Cloud Computing Markets". It recaps many of the cloud computing market observations from the last two years and categorizes the business models in a consistent taxonomy. Basically all current offerings from pure Infrastructure as a Service, in the upper left, via virtualization tools up to SaaS applications can be categorized by this. We explain the key characteristics of each business model and give vendors guidance to position and communicate their cloud service.

Forrester's Cloud Computing Taxonomy

Beyond the preview on this blog, the full document predicts the future market momentum around:

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Get A Strong Focus For Your Approach To Cloud

Randy Heffner

In discussions on cloud computing, I often talk to architects who have been told to create a "cloud strategy." This sounds appropriate enough, but there’s a devil in the details: When the task is "create a Technology X strategy," people often center strategy on the technology. With cloud, they aim to get a good definition of pure cloud and then find places where it makes sense to use it. The result is a technology strategy silo where cloud is placed at the center and usage scenarios are arranged around it. The problem with this is three-fold:

  1. Considering the full business dynamics of any given usage scenario, there is a wide continuum of often strongly competing alternatives to pure cloud (including cloud-like and traditional options).
  2. The rapid pace of market development means that business value equations along this continuum of options will keep changing.
  3. Your business needs integrated strategy for many technologies, not simply a siloed cloud strategy.
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Office 2010 Will Continue To Succeed With Consumers

JP Gownder

Many product strategists are, like me, old enough to remember software stores like Egghead. Those days are gone. Today, consumer packaged software represents a very limited market – the software aisle has shrunk, like the half-empty one at the Best Buy in Cambridge, MA (pictured).

 

Only a few packaged software categories still exist: Games. Utilities and security software. And Microsoft Office – which constitutes a category unto itself. Some 67% of US online consumers regularly use Office at home, according to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics PC And Gaming Online Survey, Q4 2009 (US). Office is the most ubiquitous – and therefore successful – consumer client program aside from Windows OS.

Office 2010, Microsoft’s latest release, will continue to succeed with consumers. On the shoulders of Office 2010 rests nothing less than the defense of packaged software in general. It’s also the most tangible example of Microsoft’s Software Plus Services approach to the cloud – a term that Microsoft seems to be de-emphasizing lately, but which captures the essence of the Office 2010 business goal:

To sell packaged client software and offer Web-based services to augment the experience.

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