As companies continue making a digital transformation, software plays an increasingly important role in their business processes. Many organizations struggle to manage multiple complex licenses, juggle contracts that expire at different times and face compliance challenges. In fact, IDC predicts software license complexity indirectly costs organizations an average of 25% of their software license budgets.
SaaS-based ISVs can fill a very big need here with their subscription-based software services. However, even cloud-based software must be integrated with other SaaS applications for enterprises to get the full value out their data and to drive productivity.
And, this is where many ISVs — especially smaller, emerging companies struggle. Building customized APIs (application program interfaces) to big players (i.e., anchor vendors) like AWS, Google, or Microsoft can be extremely tedious and costly, eating up 6 months+ of development time and lots of back-and-forth with the prospective integration partner. And, in the end, there’s no guarantee the effort is going to lead to more sales.
How B2B Platform Providers are Making the API Process Easier for ISVs
Earlier this year, Microsoft unveiled an online marketplace through which channel partners can directly provision solutions from Microsoft ISVs. The new platform, called Third Party Offers, aims to make it easier for ISVs with SaaS-ready apps to connect and sell through the Microsoft partner channel by only having to on board once to the Microsoft platform.
Value-added distributor and master cloud service provider Ingram Micro also has an online marketplace, the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace, where its channel partners (e.g., VARs, MSPs, systems integrators and CSPs) can purchase, provision, and manage cloud solutions from more than 70 cloud vendors, ranging from anchor vendors (e.g., Cisco, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services) to midsize software vendors, which the company calls “Velocity” partners (e.g., Acronis, Dropbox Business, Intuit, Symantec).
Ingram took a big step over the past year in helping smaller ISVs engage with its cloud ecosystem with the introduction of APS Connect, a new system that takes advantage of its Odin Automation technology to help ISVs more quickly and easily connect to the Cloud Marketplace.
APS Connect supports would-be Cloud Marketplace vendors through a step-by-step process, from signing up and naming their offering, through declaring which resources are to be connected, and connecting to their own API. The system then tests (in a sandbox environment) the API’s ability to respond to common Marketplace demands, such as order-taking, new user additions and service provisioning. After everything’s confirmed to be working properly, the application is published and made available to Ingram Micro’s channel partners.
“While the API investment needed to connect to the Cloud Marketplace has been worth it for Anchor and Velocity software companies, can be a considerable investment for Emerging ISVs,” says Jason Bystrak, executive director, technology partner enablement at Ingram Micro. “Through APS Connect, which is a cloud-based service integration automation tool, Emerging ISVs can reduce their API development time from months to weeks, and leverage self-service capabilities. And for ISV’s who are in the process of developing API capabilities, we provide APS Connect Quick Start which allows them to offer products on Ingram Micro’s Cloud Marketplace and use a manual “swivel chair” to provision the services. This gets them to market faster, and we simply replace the swivel chair with the API-based connection when it becomes available.”
In addition to reducing ISVs’ integration burden, Bystrak says Ingram has other complementary, business-building services. “Joining the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace puts ISVs in direct connection with tens of thousands of Ingram resellers around the world. Many Emerging ISVs have little to no experience working with a reseller channel, but Ingram Micro does and we can help them engage with and manage these new and invaluable partner relationships.”
In the same way SaaS-based applications are solving end users’ struggles to manage multiple complex licenses and juggle contracts with disparate expiration dates, B2B platform providers like Microsoft and Ingram Micro are striving to simplify ISVs’ API challenges with simpler connectors to their platforms. The big question and challenge for ISVs then is this: Are you ready to embrace the opportunity for exponential sales growth in 2018?