Minding the Cloud Store
Whether it involves groceries or cloud applications, whoever is minding the store is usually in charge. Right now, however, it seems that in the age of the cloud a lot of solution providers are not as diligent about minding their own stores as they once were.
Instead, many of them are opening up what amounts to boutiques inside larger department stores owned and operated by someone else. Whether it's Apple, Google, cloud service providers such as Salesforce.com or distributors, the hope is that by having a presence in a much larger store a solution provider might be able to drive up more business.
That's not a bad marketing tactic, but it's not nearly as profitable as owning your own store. Not only do solution providers have a much bigger presence in the stores they own, the overall equity of their businesses is much higher because it doesn't look like the solution provider has merely become an agent for some larger entity.
The challenge, of course, is constructing the actual store and then driving traffic into it. As part of an effort to make it easier for solution providers to build their own stores, BMC Software has launched BMC Marketplace, which provides a framework through which solution providers can create their own Amazon-style online stores. According to Hal Clark, senior solution marketing manager at BMC, the BMC Marketplace is designed to make it easier for solution providers to showcase applications and services and ultimately transact business without having to construct an online marketplace from the ground up.
Regardless of the approach taken to build an online store, the goal for any solution provider should be to have as large an online presence as possible, not only for marketing purposes, but just as importantly a vehicle through which integration services will be delivered. Anything short of that means that not only is somebody else minding the online store, but chances are you're paying for the privilege of having a presence in a store that has been optimized around somebody else's business model rather than your own.
Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.