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In the age of the cloud, it appears that the methods used to distribute applications and services are changing in ways that will require many vendors and solution providers to make some adjustments.

By way of example, ConnectWise, a provider of professional services automation (PSA) software and remote management and monitoring (RMM) tools, has now partnered with SkyKick, WatchGuard Technologies and Intermedia to integrate backup and recovery, security and business management software into its cloud-based framework for managing the business and IT operations of managed service providers (MSP).

At the same time, ConnectWise made its cloud service available via Pax8, a distributor specializing in cloud applications.

Craig Fulton, vice president of product for ConnectWise, said the integration of third-party technologies into the ConnectWise platform not only makes those products more accessible to MSPs, but it also allows MSPs to more easily integrate billing across all the services they provide. “It makes MSPs more efficient,” he said.

Jeff Kaplan, managing director for THINKstrategies, an IT consulting firm that specializes in cloud computing, said these alliances that ConnectWise is putting together are the latest example of a “platform economy” that is transforming the way products and technologies are distributed using online marketplaces.

As online marketplaces continue to spring up, vendors will view complementary vendors as essentially a new route to a market opportunity, Kaplan said. That’s not necessarily a new idea, he added, but the level of scale at which it occurs is much greater.

“In some ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same,” Kaplan said.

Of course, the degree of exclusivity any one vendor is likely to achieve moving from one cloud platform to another will vary. But the one thing that is clear is that just about any vendor that provides a cloud platform is now, one way or another, also in the distribution business.