IPP enables Intuit to move its ecosystem of small partners targeting small businesses to the cloud. It has also started to attract larger application partners, (SaaS ones), a trend that has now culminated in the Microsoft partnership. This will make it easier for Intuit to start moving upmarket (BPOS may be ahead of this particular curve though, as it may prove too rich an offering for many small businesses).
The partnership provides Intuit partners with a strong alternative to IPP whose front-end services and tools are based on Adobe Flex technology and tools (but with plans to open up IPP to other tools and front-end technologies). Instead it enables the partners to use Microsofts Silverlight or .Net technologies and the Visual Studio toolset. IPPs openness enables partners to use others PaaS platforms and related tools (such as those from Salesforce.com).
The partnership highlights the need for Microsoft to have a more balanced approach to PaaS
The partnership enables Microsoft to:
- shore up its small business credentials (following the discontinuation of its Microsoft Office Accounting product in November 2009)
- expand the potential developer audience of Azure to the Intuit partner ecosystem
- add a new channel for its SaaS offering as well as those of its partners.
It also highlights the need for Microsoft to have a more balanced approach to PaaS that focuses not just on the application services provided by the platform but also on the partner services that this platform needs to deliver, such as an application marketplace (an area where Salesforce.com, and to a much lesser extent Intuit, is currently ahead of Microsoft).
Laurent Lachal is an Ovum analyst.
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