The New Face of Software DistributionBy Michael Vizard | Posted 2007-01-04 Email Print
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Opinion: The evolution of software delivery models begs the question: Just who is a software distributor?
As software increasingly becomes something delivered as bits over a broadband pipe rather than something that comes on a CD in a box, the entire foundation on which software distribution is built today is about to change.
And with that change comes the whole question of just who is a distributor of software and what is their primary function.
The whole issue is worth considering today because of recent moves by Jamcracker and Salesforce.com that effectively position both of these companies as distributors of third-party software-as-a-service offerings.
In the case of Salesforce.com, the move into software distribution shows up in the form of AppStore, a Web site through which Salesforce.com is acting as a distributor of third-party software applications.
With substantially less fanfare, but perhaps more relevance to the channel, Jamcracker has created the JSDN (Jamcracker Service Delivery Network) that makes software-as-a-service applications available to managed service providers.
Those applications cover a broad range of areas including security, e-mail and storage software, which thus far it has been offering to about 10 of its managed services partners as part of a pilot program about to be made more broadly available.
Jamcracker readily concedes that this move effectively puts them in the software distribution business, which they expect to significantly expand during 2007 with more applications and partners coming aboard.
Naturally, this begs the question: if companies such as Jamcracker and Salesforce.com are in the software distribution business, what does this mean for traditional, CD-in-a-box distributors such as Ingram Micro, Tech Data, Arrow, Avnet and the rest.
Just to make matters more interesting, it seems highly probable that as companies such as Microsoft and IBM build out there own portal offerings, they too will to one extent or another become distributors of third-party application software.
None of this is likely to be lost on the executive of software distribution companies, but neither does it seem that any of them are rushing to put a stake in the ground to claim their piece of what increasingly looks like the next generation of software distribution.
The end result may probably be that distributors will eventually look to acquire companies such as Jamcracker.
As the software-as-a-service computing model continues to take hold, you can't help but wonder if distributors are doing themselves and their customers a disservice by not moving more aggressively in terms if creating a network of software-as-a-service applications that could easily be resold by solution providers.
It's understandable that this model might take them some time to wrap their minds around, given the fact that there are no real physical goods to distribute in this model, but they better get moving.
It's pretty clear at this point that software-as-a-service is going to be a mainstream computing model, and distributors would do well to take note of the activities of companies such as Jamcracker and Salesforce.com and then respond accordingly.