The demand for cloud-based ERP software is on the rise, and many customers are turning to partners for help.
According to Craig West, vice president of alliances and channels at NetSuite, behind the cloud-based ERP demand is the "ever-increasing acceptance of cloud for mission-critical business applications."
"I think the climate is certainly more ready and continues to be more ready than it's ever been for mission-critical business applications in the public cloud," West said.
He attributed the cloud acceptance to several factors, including a generational shift in business leaders. He also noted the market demand is fueled by the seven- to 10-year ERP replacement cycle, with many businesses currently revaluating their on-premises systems.
West doesn't see many obstacles for partners in their conversations with today's customers around cloud-based ERP software. If partners face challenges at all, he said, it is with scaling their businesses to meet the rapid demand. "As their businesses are growing, they need to be hiring more consultants and ramping up more consultants to deliver more projects with more velocity," he said.
NetSuite continues to evolve its go-to-market strategy in the ways it collaborates with partners to capitalize on the market opportunity. Part of this strategy includes working with partners to expand into micro-verticals, he said. While NetSuite's offerings cover about 80% or 90% of customer businesses, West said that "when you get deep into verticals and micro-verticals, there is almost always some 'last mile' piece of functionality that NetSuite doesn't inherently deliver."
"We see great opportunity with our partners building out that last-mile functionality on NetSuite ... and then being about to go to a very niche micro-vertical," he said.
NetSuite's strategy to keep its platform open and its data accessible has let NetSuite partner Explore Consulting "take [NetSuite] the extra 10% or 20% outside the base functionality" for many of its customers, said Steve Jones, Explore Consulting CEO and co-founder.
Like West, Jones said customers have generally come to accept cloud computing and feel more comfortable with putting their mission-critical applications in the cloud.
"Five to 10 years ago, we spent half of our sales sessions evangelizing that [a prospective customer's] data was going to be fine in the cloud," he said, adding that it's no longer true today.
Velostrata launches partner program
Velostrata, a maker of cloud migration and workload mobility software, unveiled a partner program with tracks for both service providers and resellers.
The San Mateo, Calif., company describes its channel ecosystem as including born-in-the-cloud partners, systems integrators and cloud experts. Velostrata seeks to cultivate relationships with partners engaged in moving customers to the public cloud.
Customers have struggled with cloud migration as they navigate workload portability issues and the potential for downtime and data loss, said Michele Borovac, vice president of marketing at Velostrata. Such customers turn to channel companies for assistance.
"Partners are go-to for many of these companies, because they don't have the in-house expertise with the cloud as they move workloads from the enterprise to the public cloud and back," she said.
The Velostrata channel program aims to equip partners with the tools and the knowledge to ease their customers' migration. To that end, the company's partner program places a heavy emphasis on training, education and certification, according to Jan Poczobutt, vice president of sales and partner programs at Velostrata.
The objective, he said, is to "arm a set of partners with the knowledge they need to actually deliver a service and help customers migrate."
Poczobutt said some partners opt to pursue a 100% services-based approach. For those partners, the Velostrata partner initiative offers a referral program. And channel companies interested in the software licensing aspect of the migration technology may participate in the program as resellers.
"Regardless of the partner business model, we have an option for them," he said.
Jose Hernandez, CEO of myCloudDoor, a cloud solutions provider that works with customers on cloud transitions, said Velostrata's tools have simplified his company's migration protocol, the step-by-step series of activities involved in performing a cloud migration.
Channel M&A activity
The channel saw a pair of acquisitions this week.
DXC Technology, an IT services company formed in a merger of CSC and HPE Enterprise Services in April, purchased Tribridge, a Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution provider. Tribridge's managed cloud affiliate company, Concerto Cloud Services, will be included in the buyout. According to DXC Technology, adding Tribridge will bolster and expand the company's offerings and reach in healthcare, state and local government, consumer packaged goods and professional services. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
In the distribution space, European value-added distributor Exclusive Group, acquired Fine Tec, a value-added distributor based in San Jose, Calif. Fine Tec focuses on network security, data integrity and storage technology.
Barrie Desmond, COO at Exclusive, said the company sees an opportunity to provide North American vendors, global systems integrators and large VARs with another choice in terms of global business expansion.
"We are focusing on the U.S. but are looking for a way to expand into the global market, and we found a perfect match" in Exclusive for that goal, said James Shen, president CEO of Fine Tec.
Meanwhile, Extreme Networks updated its partners on its acquisition of Avaya's networking business. In a blog post, Bob Gault, executive vice president of worldwide sales, services and channels at Extreme, said the vendor's strategic roadmap will target vertical markets such as the federal government sector. He added that Extreme entered an agreement with distributor immixGroup to provide Extreme's wireless networking products to government agencies through the GSA Schedule 70 contract vehicle.
Security software vendor Avecto added Conversant Group, an IT services firm based in Chattanooga, Tenn., to its North American partner network. Conversant Group joins the Avecto channel program as a Gold partner and will have access to the vendor's Defendpoint software.
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