JumpBox Open Source SaaSEven as some VARs begin to embrace open source applications, they must deal with a new force: The shift of open source applications into the cloud and SaaS (software as a service) models. A case in point: JumpBox has pushed a dozen open source applications into the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service. Here are the implications for VARs.

First, a tip of the hat. Matt Asay over at CNet's The Open Road blog was the first person to introduce The VAR Guy to JumpBox. Also, JumpBox is a tiny company that won't likely disrupt the IT channel on its own.

See the Bigger Picture

But therein lies the rub. More and more open source companies are shifting their applications into major cloud services such as Amazon EC2. And JumpBox's model is particularly interesting.

Specifically, JumpBox offers a range of open source applications (examples: SugarCRM and Drupal) packaged as pre-buit, preconfigured virtual appliances.  In other words, there's nearly no hardware or setup quandries, as Asay explains in his blog.

Look Beyond Redmond

The net result for VARs: Right now, most solutions providers are trying to understand how to cooperate or compete with Microsoft's software+service strategy and such hosted applications as Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and Dynamics CRM.

But the laser-like focus on Microsoft SaaS is both a blessing and a burden for VARs. All those partners that "grew up" selling Windows NT applications need to make two leaps of faith. First, a leap of faith beyond Microsoft servers and into the cloud. And second, a leap of faith beyond Microsoft applications and into open source.

The VAR Guy isn't telling partners to abandon Microsoft. Rather, give open source SaaS a try and find the best blended solutions -- open and closed source -- that fit your customers' needs.

JumpBox has already made that leap of faith. Will you?

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