Zoho: A Google Apps Foe — And Friend
It takes guts to go against Google Apps but that’s what the ZOHO Corp. has been doing with its Zoho Office Suite of SaaS online applications. But does Zoho have a channel strategy? And where is Zoho heading next? Here are some answers.
Zoho’s competitive edge, asserts Zoho evangelist Raju Vegesna, is a focus on the needs of businesses, rather individual workers. Zoho claims to have more than 15 enterprise applications that their colleagues at the Googleplex can’t match. In addition to additional SaaS applets like spreadsheets and word processors, Zoho serves up Zoho CRM, Zoho Projects, and, as we talked about last week, Zoho Recruit.
Is this yet another Silicon Valley start up? Not quite. Zoho Corp, is a privately-held, reportedly-profitable business founded in 1996. The company — which has offices in Pleasanton, Calif., and India — changed its name from AdventNet Inc. earlier this year.
Over Two Million Served
According to Vegesna, Zoho crossed the two million users milestone in 2009, and he says new users sign-ups are accelerating. Zoho never charges for small-scale use of each of their products — rather, they charge for enterprise use on a per-user basis.
Zoho launched two new full-fledged products this year: the previously-mentioned Zoho Recruit, which handles HR staffing needs, and Zoho Discussions, their platform for customer service forums and intranet pages.
In 2010, Vegesna says, the company will focus on integration: they already offer functionality-expanding plug-ins for Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox; Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org; Microsoft Outlook; Facebook; Microsoft Sharepoint; and even a CloudSQL version.
Now, Zoho Embraces Google Apps
Just today, in fact, Zoho announced the ability to add a document to the Zoho applications directly from within Google Docs. Zoho intends to expand this repertoire in 2010 while also maturing their applications and adding features. Zoho also plans to launch a few new applications, though Vegesna was mum on what they might be.
Admittedly, Google is no slouch. The company has been building its Google Apps Reseller program in 2009, and many MSPs say they are giving Google Apps a try. There are also signs that Google plans to launch an ISV partner program.
Interestingly for VARs, Zoho says it has too many potential reseller partners for most of their software and the company has to review each inquiry on a case-by-case basis.
According to their partner website, they’re only looking for the following:
- Resellers for Zoho CRM – who have existing CRM practices and expertise in consulting, implementing and supporting CRM projects
- Resellers for Zoho Creator, our app creation and database tool
- API Integration for Zoho Writer, Sheet, Show, Planner, Creator and Meeting
- Strategic Alliances for broadly defined strategic partners
- Technology Partners to provide integrated value added capabilities for Zoho services
So what do the VARs in the audience think? With 13 years experience under their belt, Zoho isn’t exactly an upstart, but are they savvy enough to beat the name recognition of Google Apps?