Microsoft Does Developers Like Nobodys Business

IDC calls IBM the industry leader for ISV programs, but Microsoft maintains an intangible rapport that makes it the gold standard.

At its Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft has launched and enhanced a series of initiatives to help ISVs (independent software vendors) do more with Microsoft technology.

One of these efforts is around Office Business Applications, also known as OBAs. Microsoft launched its OBA OnRamp Program at the show. Microsoft defines OBA as a new breed of application that combines the familiar and ubiquitous Microsoft Office system with line-of-business applications including enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) and uses Office as a development platform.

Microsoft has long since been the gold standard for developer support—certainly for individual developers, with the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network), but also for ISVs, as so many companies have based their existence on Microsoft technology.

The OBA OnRamp Program includes technical resources, marketing assistance and sales acceleration for partners. And Microsoft distributed 10,000 OBA Quickstart Kits to 10,000 attendees at its Worldwide Partner Conference. The content of the kit is divided into "business ready," "developer ready" and "partner ready" DVDs and includes case studies, tutorials, demos, white papers and sample code.

/zimages/2/28571.gifTo read about Microsofts dip into the channel, click here.

Daz Wilkin, a program manager in the Platform Strategy Group at Microsoft, said the OBA OnRamp Program is about Microsoft enabling its partner ecosystem to extend and develop new solutions that leverage a key component of the Microsoft application platform: Office.

"The OBA OnRamp Program is the formalization of all the learning and training to facilitate partners for building OBAs," Wilkin said. "This is Microsofts effort to help its partner community build better applications based on Office."

"This is not a numbers game. Were making our existing ecosystem more empowered by giving them better tools," Wilkin said. "As a byproduct, this will help to bring more partners in, and they can extend solutions to the Office system."

Today, there are hundreds of ISVs building and deploying OBAs. And more than 50 partners have already enrolled in the OBA OnRamp program, Microsoft said.

Allen Emerick, director of Applications & Integration at Skanska USA Building, said Skanskas U.S. operation, which has worldwide headquarters in Solna, Sweden, uses OBAs.

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead here about how Ballmer urged its partners to embrace SAAS.

"Were always trying to do more with less and to simplify the user experience," Emerick said of why his unit pursued the OBA approach. "We saw tremendous value between Office and SharePoint and also, moving forward, with PerformancePoint."

Wilkin said he sees Microsoft software running on the client, "and we acknowledge a lot of change on the back end—a move to more SOA (service oriented architecture), modeling and Software plus Services."

Citing the Skanska example, Wilkin said OBAs enable companies to better exploit the expertise of their knowledge workers to create powerful applications customized for the business. "Its the next step in the software-as-a-service story in the enterprise," he said.

In any event, the OBA OnRamp program is just one of many programs Microsoft has for ISVs.

Next page: IBM is not far behind.