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Solution Provider Net@Work To Resell NetSuite Cloud Applications

The New York VAR is one of Sage Software's largest channel partners.

Net@Work, a New York-based solution provider and one of Sage Software's biggest channel partners, is joining Sage competitor NetSuite's channel program and will sell that vendor's cloud applications.

While Net@Work will continue to work with Sage, the solution provider's move is the latest by a major Sage partner to begin working with other software companies.

Net@Work's decision to partner with NetSuite is in response to a growing demand for cloud ERP and CRM applications, said Co-Founder and Co-President Alex Solomon in an interview.

[Related: Acquisition Expands Net@Work's Nonprofit Practice]

"It's about understanding the needs of our clients and recommending a product," he said. "Clients want the option of having a SaaS [Software-as-a-Service] product. And if we're going to have a SaaS product, we might as well have the best SaaS product on the market."

Net@Work, founded in 1996 and No. 406 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, has some 5,500 customers and more than a dozen offices around the country and in Canada, although it's most prevalent in the Northeast. The company lists many of the industry's leading IT hardware, software and communications companies as its vendor partners, including Microsoft, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, VMware and Dell.

But Sage Software always has been a big part of Net@Work's business. The solution provider developed its ConnectPoint integration software for Sage applications, for example. And in August Net@Work even increased its presence in the Sage market by acquiring Software Solutions, a Richmond, Va.-based solution provider that resells Sage 100 ERP, Sage 500 ERP and Sage CRM applications.

Solomon was careful to portray the new alliance with NetSuite as an expansion of the solution provider's business and not a move away from Sage. "The more products we offer, the more credibility we have with customers, and the more software you sell from all vendors," he said.

Solomon said Net@Work had informed Sage about its plans and said it was not upset by the move.

"Sage is committed to our channel and the long-standing relationships with our partner community," said Donald Deshaies, vice president of channel management and strategy for Sage North America, in a statement provided to CRN. "As a company we look forward to continued investment in the channel as we look to further strengthen it and build momentum with our network of partners."

NEXT: Sage's Rocky Relationships

But it's hard to see anything positive for Sage in Net@Work's NetSuite alliance. In the last couple of years some of Sage's biggest partners, including leading partner Blytheco, have started reselling software and services from NetSuite, Intacct, SugarCRM, Acumatica and other vendors.

Sage and its channel partners have had some rocky relationships in recent years. Last year, some partners weren't happy with changes the company made in its partner program tier structure and margins. In 2012, some partners were upset by Sage's efforts to discontinue some products and rebrand others. And partners complained that a move to introduce subscription pricing undercut their profit margins.

Another problem facing Sage and its partners is the vendor's aging product line and what some see as a lack of investment in product development. A report from Nucleus Research last May, titled "The Bell Tolls For Sage," was harshly critical of what it called Sage's "dated" product strategy.

Solomon said some customers have been asking for broad cloud application options, and that was a major factor for choosing to work with NetSuite. Sage's product approach has been to develop cloud extensions and add-ons to its on-premises ERP applications. Net@Work also has provided hosted versions of Sage applications for some customers.

NetSuite touted its successful recruiting of the solution provider. "Net@Work brings a long and impressive track record of success in helping organizations maximize business value from technology," said Craig West, vice president of channel sales at NetSuite, in a statement. "We are thrilled to be partnering with a company with such a strong position in the market, proven ERP expertise, and a true trusted business advisor to their clients. Net@Work's selection of NetSuite further validates our position as the leading solution and partner upon which to build a cloud business applications practice."

Under the partnership, Net@Work will sell, implement and support NetSuite's cloud applications. It also will develop vertical industry applications using the NetSuite SuiteCloud development platform. NetSuite will host the applications and bill customers for the application services, paying Net@Work a percentage of the contract value, according to Solomon.

NetSuite is strong in a number of specific vertical industries, and that aligns well with Net@Work's own vertical-focused marketing efforts, Solomon said. Net@Work also has been building a substantial practice around Microsoft SharePoint, and Solomon sees opportunities to integrate SharePoint with NetSuite's applications. Finally, Solomon said NetSuite is popular among customers and prospective customers with e-commerce businesses.

Solomon, with ambitions to become one of NetSuite's biggest channel partners, said he has existing and prospective customers "chomping at the bit" to use NetSuite. Those include SMBs and divisions of bigger companies -- some of whom are using on-premises applications and want to shift to cloud computing.


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