John Barnes, CTO of Model Metrics, a Chicago-based mobility and cloud solution provider, said his company leverages some elements typically leveraged by ISVs such as custom development to differentiate itself from the growing pack of cloud VARs -- especially the increasing number of cloud VARs in the Salesforce.com space, where Model Metrics lives.
"It's kind of difficult to be both a solution provider and an ISV and do that well," he said. Barnes added that he prefers to refer to Model Metrics as a services company that adds "frameworks and accelerators" on top of its cloud offerings through custom application development on the Force.com platform and other platforms.
Model Metrics has received recognition for its expertise with custom, mobile and multi-cloud deployments and boasts more than 100,000 mobile application customers and has completed more than 1,300 cloud computing implementations for mid-sized and Fortune 1000 companies
"This invites us to the party where we wouldn't be part of the conversation," Barnes said, adding that offering app development and other services on top of traditional cloud plays leads to more strategic engagements.
Matthew Richards, senior director of product marketing for the Cloud Computing business at CA, said cloud VARs' uptake of ISV characteristics is key to their differentiation in the marketplace and will help them better compete. He said a cloud sale isn't just about infrastructure anymore, but must add value, and that value is often on the application and SaaS side.
"The marketplace is volatile and you'll see a lot of things that are different," he said. One new twist the cloud model is creating in the channel is a partnership paradigm where traditional ISVs and traditional infrastructure players are pairing up to deliver deeper solutions.
CA Vice President of Cloud Computing Marketing Jay Fry added: "The infrastructure side is the table stakes, but it's not the piece of it that's most interesting to the people you're trying to sell to."
Richards said a good number of CA partners are taking on ISV-like duties, and are seeing big benefit because of it. "To gain that margin and maintain that margin, they have to differentiate," he said.
Nichols said Appirio describes itself as a "cloud solution provider" and that moniker means it's not a pure-play ISV, not a pure-play systems integrator and not a pure-play VAR, but an amalgamation of the three the combines into a hybrid business model.
"It all starts with the clients," he said. "Customers have been telling us they need a mix of services and technology to make this transition to cloud computing."
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