Google Apps Rival: Zoho Attracts 200 SaaS Partners
The Google Apps Reseller program received plenty of buzz a few weeks ago. But software as a service (SaaS) rival Zoho is making noise with its Zoho Alliance Partner Program (ZAPP) — and attacking bigger brands like Microsoft and Salesforce.com along the way. Here’s the scoop from The VAR Guy.
For those who don’t know Zoho, consider them a mashup of Google Apps combined with Salesforce.com: The company offers a range of on-demand applications for personal and corporate use.
Partners seem to be catching embracing Zoho. The Zoho Alliance Partner Program, now about 18 months old, has attracted about 200 resellers so far, according to Ian Wenig, senior director of strategic alliances at Zoho.
Zoho’s Fab Four
The partner program includes four components:
1. Resellers: Accoring to Wenig, ZAPP resellers are regionally-based, scattered across the globe, and provide a range of services. Some are focused on CRM, while others are building consulting practices and providing expertise to help companies make the leap from purely desktop based applications to a hybrid model or a purely Web-based approach.
One example, notes Wenig, is Frank Shines from Skill of Success, a US-based consultant who is focused on Lean Six Sigma and how to incorporate best practices when implementing SaaS applications like Zoho.
2. API Integration Partners: Free application programming interfaces allow partners to integrate various Zoho services into existing web portals or applications, asserts Wenig. The API program is “expanding and will soon offer advanced, multi-tiered functionality at extremely attractive price points,” adds Wenig. Current API Integration Partners are listed here.
3. Strategic Alliances: Zoho concedes that these are a loosely defined set of partners that generate larger deals.
“While we cannot reveal our current pipeline of deals that have closed, we are going to be announcing some significant wins that span Service Providers, major ISV’s, and technology providers,” says Wenig.
Hmmm. The VAR Guy is very curious.
4. Technology Partners: ZAPP also incorporates “partners who provide us with technology that we cannot or do not wish to develop ourselves,” notes Wenig. EchoSign, for one, provides secure digital signatures from inside Zoho Writer.
Old Companies, Old Partner Models
Sounds pretty neat. But where’s the drama? Surely, Zoho plans to bash traditional software company partner programs just a bit.
Indeed, Wenig offers up some competitive perspectives:
“As the world adjusts to an economic downturn and SaaS matures further, we will continue to see a steady rise in new businesses wanting to jump into the cloud computing space as well as take part in the newly emerging “Cloud Channel” that Zoho and its partners are in the process of creating. While Microsoft, IBM, and other large ISV’s have mature, multi-level channel programs in place, my guess is they are still working on models for their SaaS businesses. I am not so sure they will get it right the first time or anytime soon.”
And what about SaaS competitors like Salesforce.com? Glad you asked. Writes Wenig:
“Our competitors, like Salesforce, have done a poor job of creating a vibrant channel mostly because their heart is in closing direct sales in large accounts. While our program is far from perfect, we are committed to our partners and will be focused on executing on our strategy of addressing a globally diverse customer and partner base employing the latest technologies and business models.”
This entire blog post is quite a rant from Wenig. But, The VAR Guy welcomes rants — especially when they involve disruptive technologies and their associated partner programs.