In advance of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference next week, AppDirect announced on Tuesday that partners that plug into its online application store to distribute software can take advantage of a Dual Service Management program under which Microsoft's existing syndication partners can continue to use that service until they make the complete transition to becoming a Microsoft cloud service provider (CSP).
Daniel Saks, president and co-CEO of AppDirect, said the new capability is a recognition that most solution providers will be operating under two distinct business models for some time to come. Typically a Microsoft Syndication Partner has relied on versions of Microsoft Office 365 that are hosted by Microsoft to provide access to the Microsoft productivity applications. As a Microsoft CSP, those same applications are hosted by the Microsoft partner instead using a Microsoft CREST application programming interface (API).
As most Microsoft partners become comfortable with being a CSP Saks said many smaller players are now taking an interest in not only being a CSP, but distributing other software applications as well. For example, AppDirect also announced that Spark Digital and Hawaiian Telcom are now leveraging AppDirect to bundle Microsoft Office 365 with other cloud applications.
While the AppDirect online store is only one of several distributions vehicles that solution providers can invoke to process transactions and distribute software, Saks said AppDirect is designed from the ground up to eliminate the friction associated with that process.
Naturally, there’s a fairly fierce battle emerging across the channel between traditional distributors and emerging alternative channels such AppDirect. The degree to which one wins out over the other, said Saks, will be which distribution mechanism exposes the most robust application programming interfaces (APIs) to make the entire process as transparent to the end user as possible on a global basis. AppDirect, for example, makes it simple for channel partners to present all software acquisitions on one single bill, said Saks.
Most software vendors at the moment appear to be supporting all the major online stores aimed at support channel partners. For example, Trend Micro, DocuSign, Mural, PlumChoice, Mandarine BS, SkyKick and BitTitan have all partnered recently with AppDirect. It’s even conceivable that before too long there may be a wave of mergers and acquisitions involving the old and new software distribution guard.
Regardless of what provider comes out on top, the way software is delivered to end customers has permanently changed. The only remaining question now is who will actually deliver it.