Sage Plots Client Road Map

roadmap to the future

For example, the company will start rolling out a revamped, and richer, Web client with the next releases of Accpac and Saleslogix. The MAS lineup will follow, said Himanshu Palsule, a company veteran who was just named executive vice president of Sage's newly formed Business Management Division. The next Accpac release due next month will feature part of this work and next year's AccPac 6.0 will be the first full implementation, Palsule told CRN at the Sage Insights 2007 show in Kissimmee, Fla.

Alex Solomon, co-president of Netatwork, a New York-based Sage partner, said the company's existing thin-client implementations already help his company get in the door on many deals—typically companies wanting to evaluate "Once we're in we can sell them any one of the Sage products we offer," he noted.

He agreed that many customers just want to know there is an option before relaizing that on-premise deployment is better suited to their needs.

"The problem with SaaS CRm is that it's outside your firewall and then if you want integration with your [on-premises] back office stuff you have to work through that," he noted

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Sage defines its core mid market segment as companies with 50 to 500 employees. Those customers don't necessarily ask for SOA but they want some benefits they'd get with SOA, Palsule said. "They want to know 'why can't I pull up a Google map in the customers address field?' Awareness is building." He estimates that fewer than one in five prospects asks for SOA but 15 percent ask for the kinds of things SOAs enable.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is another customer checkbox. Once it's filled in, they typically end up buying on-premise implementations. They just want to know it's on the roadmap, he said.

Software-as-a-service, with its pay-as-you-go model, is one end of a delivery spectrum that also includes hosting and on-premises deployment.

Sage fields a hosting center in Atlanta and partners can host some of its offerings although it does not yet offer service provider licensing agreements (SPLAs) that would let hosting partners pay as they go. So if a partner wants to host a Sage solution, it must by 12 licenses for 12 customers up front instead of paying Sage incrementally. Palsule said that thus far that is the option partners are comfortable with.

Sage CEO Ron Verni told CRN that the hosting/SaaS issue causes a discontinuity for partners used to making a big upfront software license sale. Moving to the annuity model is a tough adjustment. "It's not the technology but a distribution problem," Verni noted. For partners, the economics can be tough. "It takes 18 months for them to get to the tipping point and for a lot of folks, the issue is how to bridge that time frame."

Partners at Insights seemed okay with the company's announcement that it is divvying up its products into "value" and strategic categories.

Solomon said some of Sage's "value" designations caused consternation but that partners appreciated that the company came out and stated its plan plainly. When a company has that many products, some people will be happy and some won't, he said.

Netatwork, he added, has 400 active Pro customers. Sage Pro is one of the newly designated value products. The company will continue to update product features as needed, depending on customer and partner demand, Solomon said.