An independent software vendor (ISV) is also known as a software publisher and these professionals have become one of the primary groups in the IT industry, creating and distributing new technologies and solutions.
An Independent Software Vendor can be a business or an individual that builds, develops and sells consumer or enterprise software that is consumed by end users. Ultimately the software always remains the property of the software vendor and is licensed for use by the end-user. Independent Software Vendors differ from software vendors that work for an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), in that they primarily build software applications for human use not backend, system level applications. Hardware manufacturers that also distribute software (such as IBM and Microsoft) are not Independent Software Vendors.
ISV-built software applications can run on some or all backend platforms, like Windows, Linux or Apple and range from basic utility applications to enterprise-class business solutions including CRM and other automation tools. Many ISVs specialise in building applications for a specific niche or business vertical, this is in contrast to in-house software or custom software, which is designed or adapted for a single, specific third party.
Companies that make computer hardware or operating system platforms, such as Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Oracle or Apple often encourage and lend support to Independent Software Vendors with special “business partner” programs. Because the more applications that run on a platform, the more value it generates for the platform provider. These platform manufacturers, also make their own applications but don’t have the resources or specialist knowledge required to make applications for every conceivable market vertical or niche. ISVs typically offer products that the primary vendor (e.g., Microsoft) does not offer, enabling the platform provider and the Independent Software Vendor to leverage joint strengths and create new business opportunities – currently, thousands of ISVs partner with Microsoft to develop, market and sell software for Windows, Office, Azure and Xbox.
Recently independent software makers are also moving to provide software that runs on virtual machines and appliances, and moving toward cloud delivery as cloud computing becomes more pervasive. In the cloud world, an ISV will typically offer its product on a software as a service basis and may sell through a public cloud or cloud marketplace such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Salesforce AppExchange.
ISVs come in all shapes and sizes—from student startups to established solution providers. If you develop, market and sell your own software or applications, especially in the B2B space then you are an ISV.