Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Integrated Web is Coming — Are You Ready?

I wrote this guest post for Talkin' Cloud this week:  Cross-posting here.

The web is the platform. Consuming and sharing information with a browser and standard protocols has fundamentally changed the way work gets done in both large and small businesses. Today smaller businesses are growing up without servers, and larger businesses are using more browser applications — both SaaS and custom — than ever before.

One thing hasn’t changed however: business customers want their apps to work together. They want to streamline processes and improve data sharing and integrity.

But just because web apps run in tabs in a single browser doesn’t mean they work together. So customers continue to bear the burden of integrating their apps. And cost and complexity associated with integration can be a real challenge, particularly for smaller businesses.

Fortunately that’s changing.

Notes to Move

It’s happening slowly, but a growing number of vendors and organizations are working together to reduce the need for customers to do their own integration. Vendors are taking advantage of the web’s principles of open data APIs and open protocols like OpenID and OAuth to deliver integration as a product feature. For example:
Partner Opportunities

Where does this leave MSPs and VARs, who have traditionally delivered and managed complete IT solutions for customers?
In a great position to help customers take advantage of the web platform. Here are four ways MSPs can take advantage of the coming integrated web:
  1. With many of the “obvious” integrations handled by vendors, MSPs can take advantage of that same web platform and those same open APIs and protocols to build out even higher-value integrations, and do it more quickly than previously possible.
  2. Pull together pre-built integrations of web apps from multiple vendors to deliver and manage custom solutions. For example, by delivering integrated email, CRM, and project management, your customers can move more of their business to the web and you can provide the necessary vendor management and business process consulting to ensure their success.
  3. Deliver powerful customization with ease by taking advantage of modern web development tools like Javascript, Python, and Ruby, PaaS hosting environments like Heroku, Google App Engine and Azure, and rich application-level APIs.
  4. Distribute and monetize apps and integrations in Web application marketplaces, taking advantage of the lower cost of sales and marketing and the lower operational costs that PaaS and IaaS offers.
The shift to the web as the platform is not without challenges for MSPs and VARs, but this major shift also brings major opportunities.
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