This week's announcement that ePartners is releasing its own suite of specialized software underscores the fact that defining a value-added reseller just isn't as easy as it used to be.
Under new management since last August, the Seattle-based company (once based in Irving, Texas) has released the Partner Solution Series, which is described as a suite of software and services for select micro-verticals in the health care, government, and manufacturing sectors.
That sounds a lot like rival Tectura, which also sells Microsoft accounting packages adorned with highly specialized editions to such markets as life sciences and aerospace. Denmark-based Columbus IT bought a development group last year and appears to be going in much the same direction.
There have always been a lot of resellers with a foot or two in the ISV space.
Think of Hightower, the Sage reseller that has been noted for its MAS 90 add-ons. A lot of others come to mind quickly.
But there seems to be a change in the works. A few months ago, I labeled the systems integrators, ISVs, distributors, resellers, whatever they are becoming as vertically integrated distributors, a phrase that hasn't caught on. I think it's still better than anything I've seen to date.
It's not just the super-big among the group that we will continue to call VARs. Microsoft reseller iTeration2, which with $23.5 million in revenue isn't as large as Tectura ($190 million pro forma for 2005) and ePartners (probably $60 million-plus), is one of five companies Microsoft picked to develop vertical packages. But iTeration2 is a lot bigger than the typical VAR pushing MAS 90 or Dynamics GP. And what we are seeing is another level of reseller developing in terms of revenue and capabilities.
The VAR market has been fairly stable for 20 to 25 years, in the sense that when we talked about VARs and ISVs, they were all pretty much doing the same thing and it was easy to define the category.
What do we call these rapidly changing organizations? When you figure it out, let me know.
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