SoftwareONE could be about to sign a global partner agreement with Salesforce "imminently", according to a source, who claims the reseller is trying to de-risk its business by betting on multiple cloud firms.
Neither SoftwareONE nor Salesforce wanted to comment on the claims, but one anonymous source, who claims to be a "very good position" to know about the deal, told CRN the duo is at the ‘just about to sign' stage.
Switzerland-headquartered SoftwareONE works with 9,000 software publishers globally and claims to be a leading partner of Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, SAP and VMware.
Last year, investor KKR took a 25 per cent stake in the firm in exchange for "growth capital". At the time, the reseller's chief executive Patrick Winter said "the software industry is changing" and that with KKR, he wants to capitalise on the cloud opportunity.
The rumoured tie-up with Salesforce is part of this move, the source speculated to CRN.
"SoftwareONE is looking to de-risk its business model away from Microsoft as the profitability of critical Microsoft-centric technology and licensing agreements has plummeted over the recent past and this will have hit SoftwareONE hard," said the source.
Over the last three years, Microsoft has overhauled its licensing structure towards the cloud, incentivising partners on customers' usage of cloud services, and moving away from traditional licence sales. A number of its key partners have been encouraged to make this move too, but they have faced some competition from so-called born in the cloud resellers.
According to its most recent figures filed with Companies House, in 2014, UK sales at SoftwareONE rose 22 per cent to £43m but it made an operating loss of £550,293, over the same period, partly due to expenses around its "large" graduate scheme.
The source said that SoftwareONE's Salesforce agreement could demonstrate a move away from Microsoft.
"The move to cloud-based consumption of technology is requiring traditional resellers like SoftwareONE to make significant investments into its organisation in an attempt to build credible services businesses," it said. "It does not make strategic sense for SoftwareONE and their new private equity partners, to do this while maintaining a dominant Microsoft-centric focus to their business, but rather to back a number of horses in the race to the cloud".
Salesforce is a key competitor to Microsoft in the CRM space, going up directly against its Dynamics CRM Online product.
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