An independent software vendor (ISV) is an organization specializing in making and selling software, as opposed to hardware, designed for mass or niche markets. This is in contrast to in-house software, which is developed by the organization that will use it, or custom software, which is designed or adapted for a single, specific third party.
The software products developed by ISV's serve a wide variety of purposes. Examples include software for real estate brokers, scheduling for healthcare personnel, barcode scanning, stock maintenance, gambling, retailing, energy exploration, vehicle fleet management, even child care management software.
An ISV makes and sells software products that run on one or more computer hardware or operating system platforms. Companies that make the platforms, such as Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Novell, Google, Oracle, Apple, SAP and salesforce.com encourage and lend support to ISVs, often with special "business partner" programs. These programs enable the platform provider and the ISV to leverage joint strengths and convert them into incremental business opportunities.
Independent software vendors have become one of the primary groups in the IT industry, often serving as relays to disseminate new technologies and solutions.