Microsoft and Intuit Pair Up to Push Cloud Apps

Despite being competitors, Microsoft and Intuit announced plans to pair up to encourage small businesses to develop cloud apps for the Windows Azure platform in early January 2010.

Intuit is offering a free, beta software development kit (SDK) for Azure and citing Azure as a “preferred platform” for cloud app deployment on the Intuit Partner Platform as part of its collaboration with Microsoft. This marriage opens up the Microsoft partner network to Intuit’s platform and also grants developers on the Intuit cloud platform access to Azure and its tool kit.

As a result of this collaboration, developers will be encouraged to use Azure to make software applications that integrate with Intuit’s massively popular bookkeeping program, QuickBooks. The companies announced that the tools will be made available to Intuit partners via the Intuit App Center.

Microsoft will make parts of its Online Business Productivity Suite (such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting and Office Communications Online) available for purchase via the Intuit app Center as well.

The agreement occurred just weeks before Microsoft began monetizing the Windows Azure platform (on February 1)—when developers who had been using the Azure beta free of charge began paying for use of the platform.

According to a spokesperson for Microsoft, the Intuit beta Azure SDK will remain free, with the timing for stripping the beta tag “unclear.”

Designed to automatically manage and scale applications hosted on Microsoft’s public cloud, Azure is Microsoft’s latest Platform-as-a-Service. Azure will serve as a competitor for similar offerings like Force.com and Google App Engine. Contact a Nubifer representative to see how the Intuit – Microsoft partnership can work for your business.

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