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When it comes to cloud computing in small and midsize businesses, many cloud service providers are contending with insistent demands from customers. Ideally, the customer would like to take advantage of the cloud to have both a more agile and less costly IT environment. But cloud vendors have been a little wary of helping customers make that move because many of the providers of applications in the cloud sell both direct and through the channel.

What most service providers in the channel would prefer is to find a company that sold cloud applications not only through the channel, but also those designed to run in the cloud from the ground up and are therefore easy to support.

That’s the go-to-market strategy behind Acumatica, a provider of ERP application software in the cloud. Acumatica has several competitors, and what distinguishes the company’s offerings is that they are not only simple to set up and manage, but they also run entirely within the browser, said Christian Lindberg, vice president of partner solutions for Acumatica.

The company’s software is accessible from any client platform, according to Lindberg. “What distinguishes us as an application is that we are totally born of the cloud,” he said.

And to make matters that much more interesting for competitors, Acumatica is based on a flat fee rather than charging customers on a per-user basis, Lindberg said.

“We wanted our partners to be able to have a new type of conversation with customers,” Lindberg explained. Pricing for unlimited users just flips the conversation 180 degrees.

Lindberg said Acumatica is looking for partners that want to build customer applications on top of the company’s cloud ERP applications, hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform. To that end, Acumatica supports Visual Studio, which is a widely known development environment for building Windows applications.

“We even make it a point to share source code with our partners,” Lindberg said.

As an example of those type of relationships, this week IntuitiveTek announced it will deploy Acumatica’s Financial Management Suite for 12 users and potentially another 104 board members at Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, known as the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB).

As cloud computing continues to evolve, providers of these services clearly need to start distinguishing between applications that are being ported to the cloud versus those that were designed with the cloud in mind. Otherwise, the cost to support legacy applications in the cloud might be more trouble than it’s worth.

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.