Demo 2009: Business, Channel Opportunities For The Taking

Demo, the twice-yearly conference that gives companies their six minutes under the spotlight to talk about new products or services, completed its two-day spring run on Tuesday.

Not all, but enough exhibitors offered channel opportunities for partners, ranging from developers to retailers to solution providers.

The demonstrating companies each had six minutes in which to pitch their products and services.

Demonstrations came from a variety of companies, from those already generating revenue and profits to those with no business models at all.

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Of those with channel opportunities, most offered the chance for online retailers to partner in new ways to find and engage online consumers, while a couple offered opportunities to solution providers.

An exhibitor with a new all-channel offering was AppZero, a Jersey City, N.J.-based developer of technology that turns almost any software application into a virtual application appliance that can then be moved internally or to an external compute cloud.

Mark Yohai, AppZero's vice president of sales and business development, said his company's virtual application appliance, or VAA, differs from other virtual appliances such as those created with VMware in that the VAA does not include the operating system.

As a result, the VAA is typically under 300MB in capacity, compared to a traditional virtual appliance that might occupy up to 10GB, Yohai said. "Traditional virtual appliances take longer to migrate and have the problem of breaking Windows licensing."

The VAAs are used to move applications from development to testing to production without having to recompile the applications in each step, Yohai said. It also can be used to move an application to a compute cloud where it can be run. Customers can also use a VAA as part of a low-cost, disaster recovery solution, he said.

It is currently available for Windows Server 2003, Solaris, and Novell and Red Hat Linux, with a Windows Server 2008 version expected soon.

List price is $500 per application per year. It will be available only through solution providers.

One other exhibitor, Purewire, uses solution providers and MSPs to sell its existing Purewire Web Security Service. However, at Demo, Purewire showed a new reputation-building technology, which allows users to rate each other and understand who is providing recommendations.

Paul Judge, co-founder and CTO of Atlanta-based Purewire, said he has no business model for his new Purewire Trust. Instead, Judge said, the company is providing the new technology, which uses the trust algorithms of the company's security software, as a public service and as a possible way to get interest from potential customers. "It's an extension of what we do as a business," Judge said.

Next: Technologies For Online Retailers And More

A number of new technologies may help online retailers better target customers.

Austin, Texas-based 7 Billion People hopes to help online retailers increase the conversion rate of browsers to buyers by personalizing the shopping experience for individual shoppers.

The company's WebLegend service, when employed by an online retailer, lets the retailer match the way it presents its content to a shopper's specific preferences based on the user's browsing history.

For instance, a shopper who likes to read online reviews will see such reviews in his or her search results, while such reviews will be invisible on the results of someone who prefers to focus on features.

Kutano, on the other hand, targets not only retail companies looking to interact with potential shoppers, but also competitors who might want to piggyback on shoppers' searches for products.

The Burnaby, British Columbia-based company developed a public forum for sharing information in a window that appears side by side with an online retailer's site for shoppers who have registered for the service.

Kutano allows users to make positive or negative comments about their experience, which are then shared with other registered Kutano users who visit the same site. Kevin Ishiguro, vice president of products, said online retailers can buy advertisements on the Kutano screens promoting products of interest to the users, or on screens that discuss competitors' products.

Qubes, a Zhonghe, Taiwan-based developer of technology, which allows multiple users to collaborate on edit, and update blog posts, might be able to work with resellers who have as customers events such as Demo, where it might be possible to build an affiliation site with room for bloggers, said Samson Yao, executive vice president of business development.

Some Demo exhibitors are looking for developers with which to partner.

One of them is Zuora, a Redwood City, Calif.-based developer of an application that helps Facebook application developers charge users for their applications without resorting to advertising, said Tien Tzuo CEO and founder of the.

Facebook application developers currently are not making money, Tzuo said. "Imagine a world where every Facebook user is paying $1 per month to the developers of the apps they use," he said.

Developers who sign with Zuora can specify how much a user has to pay to use an application, Tzuo said. For instance, they might specify free-of-charge for a version with limited capability, along with monthly and yearly subscriptions for a full version of the software.

HowSimple, a Huntington Beach, Calif.-based developer of software that allows customers to easily create, manage and share content and media, will have a software development kit available to developers, and will look for channel partners to approach large enterprises or government agencies to develop companywide content-sharing portals, said Craig Holland, CEO and founder.

Mobile application developers can use technology from Assurion Mobile Applications, a San Mateo, Calif.-based producer of software that lets them integrate services from business, social networking, gaming and other sites into their applications.

For instance, said Steve Pretre, general manager of Assurion, a mobile application could be developed that would allow a user to look for information on, say, Starbucks, and then have a list of local stores show up on a map, with the address of a particular store popping up when a button is pressed.

Other vendors whose wares may eventually appeal to indirect channels once their business models are set include Ensembli, a U.K.-based developer of technology that helps target users' search preferences as those users do their searches; and Document Depository, a Wayne, Pa.-based developer of a hosted solution for managing legal and related documents.