Windows Azure & BPOS: New challenges, and opportunities for systems integrators.

Last week I attended some of the Australian Partner Conference where we were lucky enough to win the Microsoft Partner Network MAPA award for Software Application Partner of the Year for the work that we did on the Grays Online web-site. There was quite a bit of buzz on Twitter about it.

The two big themes at both TechEd 2010 and APC 2010 were both Cloud and Mobile. Microsoft has been in this space for a while now with Windows Azure (from a developer perspective) getting close to being a few years old, and the re-developed Windows Phone platform is certainly going to make waves.

Readify as usual tends to get involved pretty early with these technologies and we’ve worked behind the scenes on what is probably the largest single SQL Azure deal in the world and we are starting to approach customers about building Windows Phone 7 applications, particularly in the financial services market.

We’ve also got our first internal line of business application running on Windows Azure (Compute & Storage Services) which authenticates via WIF/ADFS to an Active Directory instance that we have running in a Texas data centre, pulling data from our CRM instance in another data centre in Melbourne, and the application itself is hosted in the Singapore availability region for Windows Azure. We’ve also moved our e-mail hosting to Microsoft Online (BPOS) so I think it is safe to say we’ve embraced the cloud.

But it was at the APC that I made an interesting observation that systems integrators are going to have to start talking to software solution development organisations like Readify to strike up partnering arrangements. The traditional profit domain of the systems integrator (hardware, licensing and associated services) are not going away, but it will be getting squeezed and they are going to need partners to provide value add services.

By the same token software solution partners are going to be enabled to provide more complete solutions because they can purchase off the shelf hosting services such as BPOS & Windows Azure to get the job done without the need for a major IT staff, or even needing to consider things such as storage and compute redundancy.

Its a brave new world that we are entering and I’m excited about the possibilities.

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