Microsoft Quietly Researches Hosting Market

Microsoft is quietly conducting some informal SaaS and hosting research at the Parallels Summit in Miami. The cloud-centric conference has attracted several hundred service providers and VARs focused on recurring revenue opportunities. Clearly, Microsoft is working hard to connect more closely with summit attendees -- many of whom are checking out the Google Apps reseller program. Here's some perspective.

When I sat for this morning's conference keynote, I noticed a one-page Microsoft survey on my seat. The survey asks attendees which media sites they use to gather information about the hosting world. As part of the survey, Microsoft highlights three destinations (a website, blog and Twitter feed) to help attendees learn more about Microsoft's hosting community efforts.

No doubt, Microsoft wants to get the message out regarding Windows Azure (Windows applications in the cloud), SQL Azure (databases in the cloud) and Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS, including Exchange Online and SharePoint Online, among other options). I don't have any firm stats measuring Microsoft's cloud progress, but the company's decision to spend time surveying the Parallels Summit audience speaks volumes about the software industry.

As Microsoft gathers info, Google is working the crowd. The Google Apps reseller team has prime booth space here at the Parallels Summit. And Google this morning announced that the Google Apps Reseller program has attracted 1,000 partners.

Microsoft, apparently aware of Google's progress, cut BPOS prices in November 2009.

Are more moves coming? I'll be looking for more answers here at the Parallels Summit.

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