Give customers choice

Mark Relph has been talking about Choice and Flexibility (part 2) for customers. Today with the announcement of Windows Azure you can start to see how Microsoft is trying to offer the rich user experience choices and the choice of infrastructure, on premises or in the cloud, for developers, IT Pros and ultimately consumers.

choiceandflexibility

What you get is the opportunity to figure out what is right for you, your developers, your organization, your customers and your applications. The goal is to provide designers and developers a common set of Services that can be mixed an matched. If your a startup, you can decide to keep your application, infrastructure and services in the cloud leveraging the ability to instantly scale your applications and manage your costs. If you are an existing company with a large IT investment, you can leverage your existing corporate infrastructure layering in the pieces that allow you to grow or reduce your costs through the economies of scale offered by the cloud services.

You can start see the applications and tools that Microsoft has been shipping in context. Internet Explorer 8 is a tool for accessing software in the cloud. Silverlight 2 is a way for designers and developers to create compelling rich Internet applications. Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) is a powerful environment for desktop software development. As developers you get a shared set of tools (Web Standards, Javascript, JQuery, .NET, XAML, C#, VisualStudio 2008) that can be used to build applications and services.

choiceandflexibility-startups 

Developers can begin to build solutions that fit the needs of their audience. It is about being able to build the right solution for your company, your audience, and your market using the appropriate tools and technologies. ProductWiki is building a web service for open product reviews. Me.dium is building a shared social browsing experience. ThoughtFarmer is enterprise collaboration tool that lives behind the firewall. Xobni is mail analytics and improved communications integrated in Outlook.

servicesPlatform

It’s about choice. The choice of device. The choice of user experience. The choice that fits your business and your customers. It’s about the flexibility of the platform to grow and evolve as you do.

6 thoughts on “Give customers choice”

  1. Most businesses are not giving the customers a choice, the market is. They can chose among the various products available and the businesses are positioning themselves within that market. Usually only large/established companies have enough resouces to offer multiple products with various positions in a market. <br />
    <br />
    Just look at enterprise software, the technology and business model behind an on-premise and SaaS deployment is very different, how can a SMB offer both?<br />
    <br />
    I see this as Microsoft's way of positioning SaaS as an option among existing solutions and not a replacement. Sounds like a strategy to enter new markets while protecting old ones.

  2. Most businesses are not giving the customers a choice, the market is. They can chose among the various products available and the businesses are positioning themselves within that market. Usually only large/established companies have enough resouces to offer multiple products with various positions in a market.

    Just look at enterprise software, the technology and business model behind an on-premise and SaaS deployment is very different, how can a SMB offer both?

    I see this as Microsoft’s way of positioning SaaS as an option among existing solutions and not a replacement. Sounds like a strategy to enter new markets while protecting old ones.

  3. I'm at a loss trying to understand the &quot;richness&quot; of xobni; it's slow, provides superficial analytic information at best, and is more frequently wrong than right (ie, my data is a mess – as is most real data – and so emails from Joe Blow, J. Blow, Jblow, Joe, etc, are all considered separate people). <br />
    <br />
    ps, you ever gonna come visit austin, or wat

  4. I’m at a loss trying to understand the “richness” of xobni; it’s slow, provides superficial analytic information at best, and is more frequently wrong than right (ie, my data is a mess – as is most real data – and so emails from Joe Blow, J. Blow, Jblow, Joe, etc, are all considered separate people).

    ps, you ever gonna come visit austin, or wat

  5. Hey David,<br />
    <br />
    We're pretty stoked about the promise of Azure. Today, our customers all have robust on-premise IT infrastructures — but we see the handwriting on the wall, and realize that we will eventually be offering ThoughtFarmer in the cloud.<br />
    <br />
    ThoughtFarmer's built on the Microsoft stack and, until now, moving it to the cloud seemed daunting. The cloud is LAMP-friendly, not MSFT-friendly.<br />
    <br />
    But if the reality of Azure lives up to the promise, we'll be able to use the same platform (.NET / SQL Server), our developers will be able to use their existing tools (Visual Studio), our customers will be able to use their existing identity management systems (Active Directory), and we'll be able to deploy a cloud-based solution that offers the same rich experience as an on-premise solution.<br />
    <br />
    An underappreciated component of that rich experience is Windows Integrated Authentication. I think this is a massive &quot;missing&quot; in current cloud systems: I have to remember yet another password. The beauty of an on-premise Microsoft-based application is you don't have to log on to get a secure, personalized view. Using Windows Integrated Auth, the app can piggyback on the user's desktop logon. This removes a *massive* barrier to adoption of any new system. If Azure will support this, that's a killer feature.

  6. Hey David,

    We’re pretty stoked about the promise of Azure. Today, our customers all have robust on-premise IT infrastructures — but we see the handwriting on the wall, and realize that we will eventually be offering ThoughtFarmer in the cloud.

    ThoughtFarmer’s built on the Microsoft stack and, until now, moving it to the cloud seemed daunting. The cloud is LAMP-friendly, not MSFT-friendly.

    But if the reality of Azure lives up to the promise, we’ll be able to use the same platform (.NET / SQL Server), our developers will be able to use their existing tools (Visual Studio), our customers will be able to use their existing identity management systems (Active Directory), and we’ll be able to deploy a cloud-based solution that offers the same rich experience as an on-premise solution.

    An underappreciated component of that rich experience is Windows Integrated Authentication. I think this is a massive “missing” in current cloud systems: I have to remember yet another password. The beauty of an on-premise Microsoft-based application is you don’t have to log on to get a secure, personalized view. Using Windows Integrated Auth, the app can piggyback on the user’s desktop logon. This removes a *massive* barrier to adoption of any new system. If Azure will support this, that’s a killer feature.

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