This content is part of the Essential Guide: A CIO guide to the service cloud

Should you shop for a SaaS tool in the AWS Marketplace?

With a wealth of options available in the AWS Marketplace and from independent vendors, enterprises have a tall task in selecting the right SaaS tool.

Enterprises seeking a third-party software as a service tool to use within their Amazon Web Services environments have more than a few choices. They can branch out on their own to vet a tool from among the thousands of independent SaaS vendors or they can go to the AWS Marketplace to find an AWS-specific utility. But which is the best method for finding the right tool for their needs?

The AWS Marketplace is an online store that helps software as a service (SaaS) vendors package a product as a service, monetize it and make efficient deliveries without the hassle of having to operate as a service delivery. The AWS Marketplace complements AWS partners' desires to create scalable online delivery while removing the need to single-handedly create the expected robustness and presence of SaaS products. While this service has some benefits to technology vendors and customers alike, using a tool from a SaaS vendor outside of the marketplace can also have its advantages.

What's in a name? AWS Marketplace benefits

The brand name recognition Amazon provides in the AWS Marketplace is an essential added value to using the service. As a large business-to-business marketplace for enterprise IT, the AWS Marketplace provides the same reliability and authenticity as Therefore, simply aligning a tool with the AWS Marketplace can create great marketing values for listed vendors -- and it can give enterprise IT customers peace of mind that the tool is compatible with AWS APIs and services.

AWS Marketplace customers can easily implement listed software to their applications by clicking on a button and are charged as part of their AWS invoice. This is mostly appealing for traditional independent software vendors who can easily package traditional, single-tenant software. Being able to monetize an application stack using the 'as a service' model makes the AWS Marketplace a very appealing option for traditional vendors who must compete with a large swatch of emerging SaaS vendors.

Where independent SaaS vendors pick up the slack

With the AWS Marketplace, enterprises must purchase their own instances to run an application based on AWS partner application machine instances. Therefore, to guarantee the product is constantly running, they need to deploy, configure and monitor from within the AWS environment. These instances include operating and hosting costs and require additional instances for advanced processes. With an independent SaaS tool, on the other hand, this entire process is seamless.

In addition, an independent SaaS vendor can track user behavior. Access to such information gives vendors the business knowledge needed to further implement and test several software alterations, adjust a tool according to customers' needs and push a product into advanced stages. SaaS vendors have complete control over the underlying infrastructure environment when it comes to making changes and updating the stack. With control, however, comes greater responsibility. Independent SaaS vendors are liable for their users' data security and privacy, as well as their system's availability. SaaS is definitely still the way to provide the ultimate user experience without the hassle of users knowing what's happening behind the scenes.

What's down the road for the marketplace?

When AWS launched its marketplace, it was unclear if delivering traditional SAP services inside a marketplace and repackaging them as a SaaS-like utility would necessarily work. But as it evolved, it has become a useful tool for enterprises looking for an AWS-specific SaaS option.

Vendors in the AWS Marketplace may eventually establish their own websites where customers can procure services without having to pay the 15% commission AWS charges. But for this to work, AWS must improve upon a few things -- tracking usage, monitoring consumption and the ability to provide full transparency to its application providers. Still, the AWS Marketplace offers benefits for both enterprise IT and vendors selling within it.

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