Microsoft Touts SaaS Incubation Effort

The initiative is designed to showcase Microsoft infrastructure, such as Windows-Based Hosting for Applications, as a reliable and secure platform for third-party hosted applications.

"Our goal is to enable partners to deliver services to their customers on our platform," said Michael van Dijken, marketing manager for Microsoft's Communications Sector in North America.

To build better hosted services, Microsoft is working with partners to establish facilities and provide business and architectural know-how to help them understand "service-based delivery."

Currently, the group offers hosted messaging and collaboration infrastructure and wants third parties to use them -- rather than, say, the LAMP stack, to operate them.

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But another fiefdom at the Redmond, Wash., software giant is pushing Microsoft-hosted solutions on the SaaS front The company's "Live" effort involves driving customers -- especially consumers and small businesses -- to Microsoft-hosted solutions going under the Windows Live and Office Live rubric.

So even as one Microsoft division recruits and pampers third parties to host services on SharePoint or other Microsoft infrastructure, another group at the company is starting to compete with those third parties.

Though this conflict isn't new for Microsoft, which continually evolves its products and services, that doesn't make it any easier for these hosting partners, including companies like SMBLive and Apptix, which are watching their vendor partner increasingly come onto their turf.

Some eight partners worldwide are involved in the incubation centers, and now a push is on to get ISVs aboard.

Many ISVs that might be interested in SaaS may not have their own data centers and face other infrastructure "challenges," Van Dijken told CRN.

"We work with hosting companies who have done this from the beginning. They know how to manage infrastructure, how to meet SLAs," he said. "We're bringing these two channels [ISVs and hosters] together to enable and accelerate service-based delivery."