Case study: How Smartpath got into NEC SaaS ‘supermarket’

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Case study: How Smartpath got into NEC SaaS ‘supermarket’

Local asset management ISV Smartpath is using NEC’s Applications Net to deliver its Loc8 software as a hosted offering to customers.

The firm is one of the first to use NEC’s SaaS store announced today, and has provided an insight into how they worked with NEC to facilitate single sign-on to Loc8, and their plans now that this new delivery mechanism is in place.

“The NEC model sits with the way we want to go in the future,” said David Hodges, managing director of Smartpath.

“We don’t have the scale or capital to run our own SaaS infrastructure long-term. In the future we’ll push our own SaaS presence away [onto services like NEC].”

Smartpath had been on the lookout for a prominent SaaS delivery platform for its Loc8 software.

“We realised we couldn’t be a serious SaaS player when we were mostly selling directly to customers,” said Hodges.

“We needed to partner with large infrastructure organisations or telcos. Our focus was on creating a shared revenue model with a telco. It was our defined market strategy for SaaS going forward.”

Smartpath was, however, approached by NEC to participate in the first iteration of Applications Net. Despite being carrier-neutral, the offer was good – a new platform that could put Loc8 in the hands of a 250-strong ecosystem of eager new resellers.

“We were looking for an organisation that could provide the physical infrastructure and customer base,” said Hodges.

“Whether NEC or a telco, both fit our sales model.”

The telco delivery model still isn’t off the table.

“The NEC model will be quite successful for us,” Hodges predicted.

“In the future the telco model will also be quite good for us. Where NEC is so far ahead of the curve right now is they’ve developed their own software, infrastructure, and authentication model and they’re really moving to market much faster than anyone else.”

Hodges said integrating the firm’s Loc8 software into the Applications Net portal had been made easier because both platforms used ‘similar core technology and structures’.

“We share a very similar Java logic layer and multi-tenant architecture. The main difference is our GUI is Flex-based whereas NEC’s is HTML. Fitting Loc8 into Applications Net was a fairly easy step,” said Hodges.

Loc8 also supports LDAP, making single sign-on integration possible, Hodges said.

Until now, Loc8 has been available as a boxed product or a SaaS offering hosted on Smartpath’s own IT infrastructure.

Many customers of the boxed product also ran the software in a co-location type arrangement, according to Hodges.

“They bought a perpetual license and then co-located the software in our data centre rather than have a pay per user per month model like our SaaS offering,” said Hodges.

The SaaS version of Loc8 was also feature restricted. It included full asset management and helpdesk functionality, but did not contain maintenance offerings and mobility tools found in the boxed version.

The version of Loc8 sold via NEC will be available via a similar, though slightly different licensing arrangement again. It is basically the standard boxed version broken down into its modules, which will be sold separately.

Prices will be adjusted to reflect that change, said Hodges.

Added Phil Hare, partnering and marketing director at Smartpath, “NEC cherry-picked a good range of SaaS providers. It’s nice that they chose us based on what is out there.”
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